With the IHSAA’s all-in tournament formats, sectional time is typically heralded as an opportunity for teams that didn’t have the regular seasons they’d hoped for to wipe the slate clean and start anew.
For the Class 3A Sectional 26 football squads, however, the regular season success will be hard to ignore.
Every team but one, Peru, enters the playoffs with a winning record, including a pair of conference champions in Three Rivers Conference co-champ Rochester and Northeast Corner Conference crown-sharer Fairfield. Perennial power Jimtown (7-2) also looms, as does a Culver Academy (5-4) squad that owns a win over Lafayette Central Catholic this season.
“There’re obviously good teams in there that play in strong conferences,” Maconaquah coach Mark Hartman said. “I think the sectional is strong with a large number of wins. The teams are very spread out, too, so there will be teams who haven’t seen each other. It should make for a very interesting sectional.”
The following are looks at the first-round matchups for Maconaquah and Peru.
FAIRFIELD (8-1) at MACONAQUAH (6-3)
The Braves enter the postseason having reached the six-win plateau for the first time since 2004. They’re now looking to pick up their first postseason victory since 2002.
“I think we’re in such a better place mentally and the guys are much more focused,” Hartman said. “They truly care about what’s going on with our football team and how we play. We can’t say that’s happened in year’s past. We have great leadership, and the guys have done a great job the last three years of getting themselves ready for this opportunity.”
Fairfield will make the trek from Goshen to Bunker Hill Friday looking for its eighth straight win. The Falcons are seeking their first sectional title since 2009.