A pre-sectional championship comes Friday night with Churubusco (9-1) heading to Southern Wells (8-2) for class A sectional 35.
Two teams state ranked for the entire season square off in what has the feeling of a championship caliber game.
On the other side of the bracket two 5-5 teams await a title shot. The winner of the Raiders-Eagles game will go into the match-up as the odds-on favorite with only three losses between the two programs.
“A very good football tradition at Southern Wells,” Churubusco head coach Lee Etzler said. “This year they’re good like any other year.”
The contest pits two run-based offenses against one another with neither team totaling more than 700 yards passing on the season.
Churubusco’s bread and butter comes in the Wing-T offense. Southern Wells, meanwhile, puts the options into play with two talented running backs in Kyle Jones and Seth Biberstine.
Alone, Jones has 1,134 rushing yards to his credit. Biberstine comes off an injury that kept him off the field for much of the season. Biberstine, a 1,000 rusher when healthy, has a 9.4 yard-per-carry average in just 51 attempts.
“They are one of the best option football teams around,” Etzler noted. “They know what they’re doing. They have an answer for whatever the defense gives them. We don’t feel we’re going to shut them out. They’re going to move the football on us and score some points.
“We’re going to have to make some plays to kill some drives and move the ball consistently on offense.”
Fortunately for the Eagles, senior Kyle Mathewson is on the roster for the semifinal.
Churubusco’s all-time leading rusher in school history comes into the game with the most rushing yards of any Eagle in a single season with 1,876.
His 10.5 yards-per-carry average moves the chains on offense for Churubusco. The fullback has been the brunt of the Eagle offense all season scoring 29 touchdowns in a team points average of 43.5.
Stopping the run will be what it comes down to for the Eagles. ’Busco has had experience facing the option this season in its only loss at Fairfield.
The Falcons put up 52 points on the Eagles. According to Etzler, lessons can be learned by that.
“The biggest lesson we need to take from that game is, we need to play harder and be consistent,” Etzler commented. “There were several things we didn’t do very well that game. We were not emotionally prepared for the battle we got into at Fairfield.”
Churubusco has seen its share of blowouts having trailed in only two games this season at halftime.
For the Eagles, a close contest be as mentally tough as it will be physical.
“Most importantly, we need to play hard and be prepared for all the circumstances that may arise throughout the game,” Etzler said. “We may be down in the game. We need to handle that emotionally well. We’ve had periods of time in the season where we’ve not dealt with the highs and lows very well. This is going to be extremely important Friday night.”