While all of Class 6A and most of 5A puts its feet up on Friday night, the rest of the state will be playing football. Sectional play begins this week. Here’s a closer look at all of the area sectionals from Class 5A to A, with predictions:
Though 5A doesn’t begin fully until next week, there are a couple of games this week. So we’ll include all of 5A here as well.
Matchups (Oct. 28): McCutcheon (7-2) at Harrison (West Lafayette) (6-3); Westfield (7-2) at Lafayette Jeff (6-3)
The skinny: Westfield (No. 5) and McCutcheon (No. 7) are ranked in the top-10 and Harrison is receiving votes. Westfield’s only losses are to 6A teams – Brownsburg and Hamilton Southeastern – by one point in each game.
Player to watch: Evan Manley. The Westfield senior wide receiver is the Shamrocks’ big-play guy. Eight of his 25 catches have gone for touchdowns and he’s caught at least one TD pass in seven games. Manley is averaging 20.9 yards per catch and has 522 receiving yards.
Prediction: I picked Westfield to win state in 5A, though this is arguably the toughest sectional in the class. The Shamrocks beat Harrison 38-17 in the season opener.
Matchups (Oct. 28): Plainfield (5-4) at Tech (2-7); Decatur Central (7-2) at Zionsville (4-5)
The skinny: Zionsville and Decatur Central split sectional meetings in 2014 and ’15, with Zionsville winning last season, 50-32. The eighth-ranked Hawks are averaging 44 points a game.
Player to watch: Brenden Mikesell. The Zionsville senior running back has been a workhorse for the Eagles, accounting for 1,156 rushing yards and 12 TDs. He’s also caught 29 passes for 336 yards.
Prediction: Decatur Central. I’m not sure Zionsville can outscore the Hawks. Decatur Central hasn’t won a sectional since 2005.
Matchups: Columbus East (8-1) at New Palestine (9-0), Friday; Franklin (1-8) at Whiteland (5-4), Oct. 28; Columbus East-New Pal winner vs. Martinsville (1-8), Oct. 28
The skinny: No. 2 New Pal and No. 4 Columbus East have met three years in a row in the postseason. Two of those teams – Columbus East in 2013 and New Pal in 2014 – went on to win the state title in 4A. New Pal was the 5A runner-up last season. Whiteland has won five of its last six.
Player to watch: DuRon Ford. The New Pal senior running back has rushed for 1,774 yards and 32 TDs.
Prediction: New Pal. Hard to pick against the Dragons and their state-leading 57-point scoring average.
Matchups: Northview (6-3) at Roncalli (9-0); Beech Grove (7-2) at Lebanon (7-2); Mooresville (1-8) at Western (3-6); Greenwood (6-3) at Frankfort (2-7)
The skinny: Roncalli is ranked No. 1 in the state after completing its first undefeated regular season since 1999. Greenwood, Lebanon and Beech Grove are potential spoilers. Roncalli hasn’t played a 4A team this season.
Player to watch: Chase Andries. The senior Beech Grove quarterback has passed for 2,149 yards and 28 touchdowns and rushed for 761 yards and 11 TDs.
Prediction: Roncalli. Wins over Southport, Bishop Chatard, Brebeuf Jesuit, Decatur Central and Guerin Catholic should convince anyone that the Rebels are for real.
Matchups: Pendleton Heights (2-7) at Connersville (2-7); Mt. Vernon (6-3) at Richmond (4-5); Greenfield-Central (5-4) at Jay County (6-3); New Castle (3-6) at Delta (5-4)
The skinny: This is a wide open field. There’s not a top-10 team here but several good and improving programs.
Player to watch: Charles Degraff. The Mt. Vernon senior linebacker has 87 tackles and eight sacks this season.
Prediction: Mt. Vernon. The Marauders are 4-0 against other sectional opponents, including a 20-19 win over Delta.
Matchups: East Central (7-2) at Shelbyville (7-2); South Dearborn (0-9) at Franklin County (6-3); Silver Creek (5-4) at Seymour (6-3); Madison (2-7) at Jennings County (0-9)
The skinny: East Central rolled into the state title game last season before falling to Fort Wayne Dwenger. The Trojans are the favorite again, although Shelbyville and Franklin County could challenge.
Player to watch: John Lux. The senior Shelbyville quarterback is one of the state’s top passes (2,472 yards, 28 TDs).
Prediction: East Central.
Matchups: Tipton (5-4) at West Lafayette (7-2); Western Boone (5-4) at Benton Central (1-8); North Montgomery (4-5) at Crawfordsville (2-7); Hamilton Heights (5-3) at Twin Lakes (2-7)
The skinny: Fourth-ranked West Lafayette played in the state finals last season and could make another run. Western Boone, Hamilton Heights and Tipton are all solid teams.
Player to watch: Mikey Kidwell. The West Lafayette senior quarterback continues to put up huge numbers (2,488 passing yards, 30 TDs).
Prediction: West Lafayette.
Matchups: Northwest (5-4) at Danville (7-2); West Vigo (5-4) at Greencastle (8-1); Bishop Chatard (4-5) at Brebeuf Jesuit (4-5); Guerin Catholic (7-2) at Tri-West (8-1)
The skinny: This is the toughest sectional in the class. Chatard is the defending state champ but lost to Guerin earlier this month. Tri-West won state two years ago and Brebeuf owns a win over Cathedral. Danville is also much improved.
Player to watch: Carter McGinnis. The Guerin Catholic senior running back has rushed for 1,377 yards and 20 TDs in eight games, including a 195-yard outing against Chatard.
Prediction: Guerin. A tough-as-possible road of potentially Tri-West, Chatard and Danville. But the Golden Eagles have been playing well.
Matchups: Batesville (5-4) at Greensburg (6-3); Rushville (3-6) at Marshall (1-8); Indian Creek (5-4) at Washington (1-8); Manual (5-4) at Lawrenceburg (8-1)
The skinny: Lawrenceburg is 4-0 against sectional opponents, all by at least three touchdowns.
Player to watch: Reid Strobl. The Lawrenceburg senior quarterback has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,511 yards and 22 TDs.
Matchups: Park Tudor (3-6) at Broad Ripple (1-8); Frankton (5-4) at Lapel (6-3); Cardinal Ritter (5-4) at Heritage Christian (4-4); Scecina (7-2) at Speedway (1-8)
The skinny: Fourth-ranked Scecina and No. 5 Ritter are co-favorites in this field. Ritter defeated Scecina 21-18 two weeks ago. Lapel is also a team to watch.
Player to watch: Avery Hall. The Ritter senior running back has gained 637 of his 970 rushing yards in the past four weeks.
Matchups: Milan (7-2) at Union County (2-7); Northeastern (7-2) at Howe (5-4); Eastern Hancock (4-5) at Centerville (3-6); Switzerland County (3-5) at Triton Central (5-4)
The skinny: This is another sectional without a clear favorite. Milan, Triton Central and Howe are probably a step ahead of the rest.
Player to watch: Jordan Crouse. The Triton Central senior, a three-year starter at quarterback, has passed for 1,362 yards and 14 TDs.
Prediction: Howe. The Hornets are a different team than the one that made a run to the semistate last year, but still have enough talent to win this sectional. Howe’s four losses are to 3A and 4A programs.
Matchups: Cascade (2-7) at Cloverdale (3-6); Mitchell (5-4) at South Vermillion (2-7); Paoli (4-5) at North Putnam (6-3); Monrovia (5-4) at Southmont (2-7)
The skinny: Monrovia, last year’s 2A state champion, is the team to beat.
Player to watch: Garrison Lee. The Monrovia senior fullback was key to the Bulldogs’ run to the state title last season.
Matchups: Covenant Christian (9-0) at Turkey Run (1-8); North Vermillion (7-2) at Rockville (3-6); Fountain Central (8-1) at Riverton Parke (2-7); North Putnam (4-5) at Sheridan (5-4)
The skinny: North Vermillion is 4-0 against the sectional field, including a 20-14 win over Fountain Central. Fountain Central is ranked No. 10. Sheridan is a sleeper.
Player to watch: Joe Callahan. The Sheridan junior running back has rushed for 1,646 yards and 16 TDs, including eight games of at least 150 yards.
Prediction: Fountain Central.
Matchups: Indiana Deaf (7-2) at Tri (5-4); Lutheran (6-3) at Cambridge City Lincoln (1-8); Tindley (3-6) at Knightstown (2-7); Hagerstown (5-4) at Shortridge (5-3)
The skinny: Lutheran, coming off back-to-back sectional titles, is the favorite. Hagerstown has a shot.
Player to watch: Lance Wood. The Indiana Deaf senior quarterback has passed for 1,032 yards and nine TDs. He also has 444 yards and five TDs rushing.
Matchups: Springs Valley (4-5) at Eastern Greene (7-2); Oldenburg Academy (0-9) at West Washington (9-0), Edinburgh (3-6) at North Decatur (5-4); South Decatur (6-3) vs. Springs Valley-Eastern Greene winner, Oct. 28
The skinny: West Washington, the defending sectional champ, is again the team to beat. Eastern Greene is a sleeper.
Player to watch: Caleb Hamilton. The Eastern Greene junior has rushed for 966 yards.
Prediction: West Washington.
Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.