As IHSAA football tournament action kicks off around the state this week, three Putnam County schools open action in Class 2A Sectional 30, while the other will play in Class 3A Sectional 21.
As the teams prepare for the most important time of the season, each of the fourt matchups deserves a brief look.
COUGARS LOOK FOR 10-0
BAINBRIDGE -- Coming off its second consecutive undefeated regular season, the North Putnam football team (9-0) looks to carry this season even farther than last.
Last year, the Cougars made it all the way to semistate before falling to Southridge 22-7.
To open the 2007 sectional, the Cougars face off against South Vermillion, a team with only two wins to its credit in the 2007 campaign.
The Wildcats (2-7) are on a seven-game losing streak. The Cougars, on the other hand, are ranked second in Class 2A and on a nine-game winning streak.
Greencastle is the only common opponent of the two this year. The Cougars defeated the Tiger Cubs 41-7 on Sept. 21. The Wildcats fell to the Cubs 41-6 on Sept. 14.
In the Greencastle game, the Wildcats tried to use their athleticism to defeat GHS with a passing game. Quarterback Andy Walsh completed 18-of-37 pass attempts for 288 yards while tossing one touchdown and one interception.
The biggest key for Greencastle, though, was pounding the ball on the ground and controlling the clock. The Cubs rushed for 359 yards on 43 attempts.
That same style of ball-control running attack is the Cougars' specialty. North's attack is led by senior running backs Adam Vondersaar and Kyle Rooker, as well as junior quarterback Griffen Dahsltrom. Controlling the ball and keeping South Vermillion's athletes off the field should not be a problem for the Cougars.
The one statistic the Wildcats have in their favor is they won the two programs' last meeting. In their only meeting in the last 10 years, South Vermillion defeated North Putnam in the sectional semifinals 28-27.
Since that meeting, though, the Cougars are 27-6, while the Wildcats are 5-25.
The Cougars want to continue that trend when they host the Wildcats at 7 p.m. Friday at Cougar Stadium.
CLOVERS SEEK OLD FORM
CLOVERDALE -- The last time Cloverdale (3-6) and Cascade (1-8) met, the season was looking like a good one for the Clovers. By defeating the Cadets 22-8 on Sept. 14, the Clovers moved their record to 3-2 with their second consecutive win.
Since then, though, the Clovers are losers of four straight. The Cadets have faired even worse, losing seven straight.
Given their homefield advantage and previous win over Cascade, the Clovers are likely considered a favorite over the Cadets in Friday night's Sectional 30 matchup.
In the previous game, Cascade beat the Clovers everywhere but the scoreboard, gaining 62 more yards and running 39 more plays.
The Clovers, though, used big plays to keep the Cadets at bay all night, including a 79-yard kickoff return from Nick Keefer to open the game and a 37-yard interception return from Chad Cummings in the fourth quarter. Both plays set up quick scores, and ultimately made the difference in the game.
The Clovers will look to recapture some of that magic Friday as they once again face the Cadets. The game kicks off at 7 p.m. at Cloverdale field.
EAGLE DEFENSE A KEY
MONROVIA -- South Putnam (4-5)is a team entering the postseason heading in the right direction.
After beginning the season 0-4, the Eagles have won four-of-five. They closed the season with a two-game winning streak.
Of special note in those two games has been the Eagles' rush defense, which has allowed 38 and minus five yards in the last two weeks against Monrovia and Cascade, respectively.
With this in mind, the Eagles are likely happy to see Monrovia (5-4) as their opening-round sectional opponent.
Not that the Eagles are without their concerns heading into the postseason. Last week's 42-7 victory over Cascade revealed some weaknesses for South Putnam. The pass defense allowed 206 yards on 18-for-34 passing. The Eagles were also penalized 12 times for 115 yards.
The Bulldogs also had some passing success against the Eagles in the first meeting, gaining 52 of their 98 total yards on a single pass play that set up their only score.
The Eagles won that meeting 19-6. They also had one of their most balanced offensive games of the season, rushing for 151 yards and passing for 120.
The South rushing attack is shared by a number of backs, while Hunter Edwards has emerged as their passing threat.
With the success of the last meeting, the Eagles hope to repeat at 7 p.m. Friday at Monrovia field.
TIGER CUBS THINKING UPSET
When Sectional 21 action opens this Friday at Robert Harbison Field, the Greencastle football team will be facing one of its toughest challenges of the year.
While the Tiger Cubs (4-5), come into the tournament hot, having won three straight, the Warriors (8-1) are even hotter, having not lost since week one against Plainfield.
The Tiger Cubs don't look to back down, though, as they face the fifth-ranked Warriors.
The two teams have no common opponents this year, but did face off in the 2007 sectional semifinal, where the Warriors won 34-7. Danville has won all three meetings between the two schools in the last 10 years.
Greencastle is coming off of a 32-14 victory over Owen Valley last week, while Danville emerges from a 48-20 win against Tri-West.
As Greencastle looks to pull off the upset, it will need to rely on the one-two punch of senior runningbacks Drew Evens and Kendall Faust. Evens has gained 860 rushing yards on the year, while Faust is second on the team with 449. Add to this some timely passing from junior quarterback Graham Shuee, and you have the Tiger Cub offense at its best.
The Tiger Cubs and Warriors take the field at 7 p.m. Friday at Greencastle.