It’s #1 vs. #2 for the football Sectional title

Irish travel to Decatur Central on the road to State

The+Irish+celebrate+a+touchdown+during+their+Sectional+semifinal+win+over+Plainfield.+

Ashlynn Bakemeyer

The Irish celebrate a touchdown during their Sectional semifinal win over Plainfield.

Will Mayer, Sports Editor

After two blowout wins in their first two tournament games, the Class 5A top-ranked Irish will take on second-ranked Decatur Central for the Sectional championship. Head Coach Mr. Bill Peebles ‘88 expressed his excitement for the Nov. 5 game, which will be played at Decatur. 

After the Irish defeated Plainfield 54-7 in the Sectional semifinal, Dazzmon Garrett was named Player of the Game with 110 receiving yards and 20 rushing yards. Peebles said, “He played a great game. He ran the ball at quarterback in the wildcat formation, had a nice run there. He also had opportunities in the screen game and passing game. He took advantage of them and ended up having probably his best game of the year.”

The Irish came out with the new wildcat formation for the first time this season in the second half of the Plainfield game, with Garrett at quarterback. Peebles said, “We’ve actually had that in the playbook for the entire year. We just decided that it’s time to pull it out and get the wildcat formation on film so that we use it more if we need it. Obviously, if we don’t use it, other teams are going to have to prepare for it because it is an option for us. We have an entire new offense we haven’t even shown this year that we can execute if need be.”

They have a very talented team. They’re big and strong up front on both sides of the ball.”

— Head Coach Mr. Bill Peebles '88

Like the Irish, Decatur Central, also has a one-loss record. The Hawks are led by Javon Tracy, their leader in all-purpose yards. Tracy averages 156.3 yards a game. Peebles said, “They have a very talented team. They’re big and strong up front on both sides of the ball. Skill-wise, they’re probably as good a team as we’ve played all year. Tracy gets the most accolades. He’s a Miami of Ohio recruit. He plays quarterback, defensive back and returns punts and kicks.

“They also have a plethora of skill position players that are able to take it to the house at any time. Defensively, we’re going to have to stop the run first. We’re going to force the pass. We have to challenge their guys and put them in uncomfortable positions playing both ways.”

Decatur Central’s leading rusher, Kaleb Hicks, who averages 134.8 yards a game, is a stellar athlete as well. Peebles said, “Hicks is really good. He’s their free safety and their leading rusher. He’s a Division I talent type of player at 6-feet, 1-inch (and) 205 pounds. He’s as good a running back as we’ve faced all year.”

The Irish seemed to struggle with penalties in the game against Plainfield with six for 42 yards in the first quarter alone. One of them was an unsportsmanlike penalty. Peebles said, “They responded well to the penalties. Against Plainfield, that was our first touchdown (allowed) in the first quarter all year and we gave it to them. We had a late hit on the quarterback, multiple offsides, a delay of game (and) they threw a screen pass and we picked it up and ran with it after the whistle blew, which resulted in the delay of game. Then, we responded to that delay of game penalty in an inappropriate way, which gave us the unsportsmanlike penalty.

“First of all, it’s a learning lesson. We’re going to play better teams. If we do that this week and allow Decatur Central to score on us early and get some momentum, it’s going to be a long game because they are a very good team. We can’t those same mistakes week in and week out.”

Competing for the Sectional championship again this year is nothing new for the Irish. Peebles said, “I don’t think we prepare for these games any different than Week 1 of the season. We all know it’s one and done. If we lay an egg and turn the ball over and commit dumb penalties, the season is over. When it comes to preparation, it’s the same way every week. There’s a consistency and routine to what we do in preparation each week.”