The Red Devils are conquering demons this postseason.
On the way to a Class 5A regional showdown at No. 1 and unbeaten Lawrence Central tonight, unranked Pike has taken out Ben Davis, Zionsville and Avon. The first two were a combined 16-3 coming into the games, while the latter had knocked Pike (9-3) out of the playoffs three years running.
Beating Lawrence Central will require a reversal of a 34-23 loss to the Bears earlier this season in a game that was delayed on Sept. 7 due to inclement weather and completed the following morning.
The Bears feature one of the most prolific offenses in the state, averaging 38.2 points per game. Quarterback Drake Christen (1,378 passing yards, 940 rushing yards) and running backs Alex Rodriguez (1,048 yards, 14 TDs) and Isaiah Townsend (971 yards, 10 TDs) have thrived behind a strong offensive line.
Expect a close game, within a touchdown into the fourth quarter. Also pay close attention to the predictions. I was a scalding 12-1 last week (92.3 percent), missing only on Heritage Christian’s loss to Shenandoah, to improve to 363-85 (81.0 percent) on the season. Lawrence Central 31, Pike 24.
Fishers (9-3) vs. Fort Wayne Snider (12-0) at Fort Wayne Wayne, 7:30 p.m.: These teams met two years ago, with Fishers winning 47-34. This Snider team is better than that one, but it’s difficult to compare the teams due to a lack of similar opponents. Fishers has been up and down this season, but is riding a wave of emotion into this game. Fishers 26, Fort Wayne Snider 23.
Castle (12-0) at Center Grove (11-1): Center Grove has won its tournament games by a combined 145-25. Castle is undefeated but also untested. Center Grove 42, Castle 17.
Mt. Vernon (11-1) vs. Cathedral (7-5) at Tech: There may be no stopping the Irish now. Last week’s throttling of Roncalli was impressive. Cathedral 31, Mt. Vernon 10.
Hamilton Heights (11-1) at Eastbrook (9-3): None of Eastbrook’s three sectional opponents finished above .500. Hamilton Heights 43, Eastbrook 21.
Greensburg (10-2) vs. Bishop Chatard (10-2) at Lawrence North: With a win, Chatard will achieve the required points under the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s tournament success factor and move up to Class 4A for the next two seasons. Despite the records, this looks like a mismatch. Bishop Chatard 35, Greensburg 14.
Shenandoah (9-3) vs. Cardinal Ritter (12-0), at Marian: Shenandoah ruined the potential Heritage Christian-Cardinal Ritter rematch with a stunning 41-35 win over the Eagles last week. Another upset? Nah. Cardinal Ritter 45, Shenandoah 28.
Sheridan (8-4) at North Miami (9-3): This is North Miami’s first regional appearance since 1994. Sheridan coach Bud Wright is going after his 10th state championship in his 47th season. Not a bad percentage. Sheridan 33, North Miami 20.
Scecina (9-3) at North Vermillion (12-0): These teams met last year in the regional with Scecina winning 35-8. Anticipate a closer game. Scecina 28, North Vermillion 21.