WL, North Montgomery meet for sectional title

WL, North Montgomery meet for sectional title

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WL, North Montgomery meet for sectional title

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Action as West Lafayette visits Western Boone for sectional football Friday, October 23, 2015, near Thorntown. West Lafayette defeated Western Boone 41-23.

Action as West Lafayette visits Western Boone for sectional football Friday, October 23, 2015, near Thorntown. West Lafayette defeated Western Boone 41-23.

The surprising part isn’t that West Lafayette and North Montgomery are playing each other for the sectional championship, it’s that they’ve never played each other before.

Less than 23 miles of US 231 separates the two schools, which have similar enrollment.

The Chargers travel to Tippecanoe County where at Gordon Straley Field, they’ll share the same gridiron with the Red Devils for the first time.

“That’s crazy,” WL coach Shane Fry said.

The two programs previously played several years at the junior varsity and freshmen levels, but never in varsity competition.

It will be a clash of two offenses averaging better than 40 points per game.

“Shootouts are fun being on the offensive side and being able to put points up,” WL senior running back Travis Rolle said. “But I am confident our defense can do their job and get some stops.”

Chargers offense loaded with weapons

North Montgomery got to the sectional untested, outscoring Benton Central and Twin Lakes by a combined 88-7.

West Lafayette overcame a challenging first half against Western Boone and a competitive second half to beat Hamilton Heights and now readies for perhaps its toughest challenge in postseason play.

“We’re watching them on offense and it is almost like no ball carrier gets the ball twice in a row.,” Fry said. “They spread it all over the place. They have different receivers that catch it. The quarterback will run it. They hand off to numerous guys.”

Likewise, North Montgomery knows West Lafayette poses the biggest test of the season for them.

“They’re good. We’re also good. It’s going to be two teams that can put up points,” Chargers tight end Jordan Banta said.

West Lafayette added a new offensive wrinkle in the past couple weeks with senior Nai Carlisle, who is playing football for the Red Devils for the first time.

Carlisle had an 18-yard reception and a 74-yard touchdown run among his 162 rushing yards last Friday.

The Red Devils also welcome back leading tackler Brendan Adams, who was injured three weeks ago against Central Catholic. Lineman Jeffrey Kim, who played sparingly last week after injuring an ankle two weeks ago at Western Boone, also returns at full strength.

Back in the fold

Bernard Celestin rushed for 542 yards and seven touchdowns in the season’s first seven games.

For the past month, the Lafayette Jeff senior running back has watched from afar after suffering a broken collarbone. Celestin returned to the practice field this week, getting reps as the Bronchos prepare to play Westfield in Friday’s sectional championship game.

“He’s a great motivator and brings energy to practice,” quarterback Devon Colonis said. “He is just a fun guy to have on the team and he gets us all excited.”

In wins over Anderson and Harrison, Celestin rushed for 155 and 170 yards, respectively.

Sophomore Latrell Brown rushed for 388 yards and five touchdowns over the last three games in Celestin’s absence.

Brown’s emergence helped the Bronchos win their first sectional game and advance to their first sectional championship game since 2006.

The Bronchos, who won nine combined games over the previous six seasons, are shooting for their ninth win of the season and first sectional title in 13 years.

“I honestly don’t think I’ve worked as hard for something as I have this season,” Colonis said. “As a team, we are starting to play at a level we knew we could.”

On the brink

For the fifth time since 2001, Clinton Prairie is in a sectional championship game.

The Gophers, who did not compete in the postseason a year ago, have come up empty the previous four times, last losing to 2013 Class A state champion Tri-Central in their most recent playoff run.

Clinton Prairie has never won a sectional title and in its last three meetings against Friday’s opponent, Central Catholic, the Gophers have been shut out. Clinton Prairie forfeited the 2009 meeting, a season after losing 96-0, due to a flu outbreak.

Those teams ran a Wing-T offense.

Central Catholic has to prepare to face first-year coach K.C. Woods’ spread offense.

“It’s a big change from what they used to be,” CC coach Kevin O’Shea said. “Defensively, we’re looking at this game like we’re trying to defend (last week’s opponent) Attica, except they’ve got a better running game. They have a big 6-4 quarterback who is not afraid to throw the ball downfield and a 200-pound running back who can make some plays.

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