The Southmont-Taylor winner faces the Delphi (4-5) at Benton Central (1-8) winner next week.
BLUFFTON (4-5) at EASTERN (2-7)
Eastern welcomes Bluffton to Greentown in a 7 p.m. sectional matchup.
The Comets boast the area’s best passing attack, led by QB Austin Bates, who is 128 of 240 through the air for 1,834 yards, 15 TDs and 12 interceptions this season. Cree Johnston has 40 catches for 545 yards and two TDs, while Will Porter adds 35 catches for 618 yards and seven TDs. Running back Papee Byers has been hampered by injuries for much of the season, but appears to be back at full strength just in time for the postseason. He ran for over 1,000 yards last year.
“I like the way we’ve gone about things offensively in the last seven weeks,” Eastern coach Josh Edwards said. “There were some games where we just got outmanned. But, I think in games where we had similar competitive balance I like where we’re at, especially now with getting Papee back and having most of the team healthy. If we can get a semblance of a running game going, that makes our passing game even better.”
Bluffton has lost three straight since a 4-2 start to the season. The Tigers have shown balance on offense this season, led by running back D’Wayne Eskridge, who has 87 carries for 839 yards and six TDs. QB Malcom Marshall has completed 69 of 148 passes for 1,094 yards, nine TDs and seven picks. Marshall’s favorite target has been Cody Harris, who has 32 catches for 502 yards and four TDs.
“We’ve got to slow them down,” Edwards said. “Matchup for matchup it seems like a pair of pretty equally matched teams. They struggle in some of the same areas we do. They have a very good offense that has scored some points on some good teams. We have to make sure we get at least a handful of stops. If we can get a couple stops I think we can do some good things offensively.”
The Bluffton-Eastern winner will face the Oak Hill (6-3) at Madison-Grant (3-6) winner next week.