Four Downs: State Finals

Southridge Raiders

Record: 12-2 overall, 6-1 in Pocket Athletic Conference

Ranking: No. 5

Coach: Scott Buening (47-15 in fifth year at Southridge, 59-43 in nine years overall)

Road to state: Sectional — thumped South Spencer 46-7, blanked Linton 20-0, edged No. 7 Evansville Mater Dei 38-31 in OT. Regional — hammered Providence 47-7. Semistate — overpowered No. 2 Indianapolis Scecina 24-7.

Previous state finals appearances: 1982, 2002, 2006 (all runner-up in Class 2A)

1. In succession, Southridge eliminated three private schools from the postseason, trimming the number of private schools in the state finals this season to just two. That’s the lowest number since 2005. The Raiders are 9-15 all-time against private schools.

2. Southridge’s four trips to the state finals have been led by a different coach — Bob Hawkins in 1982, Brad Hanner in 2002, Kelly Murphy in 2006 and Scott Buening this season. Each of Buening’s five Raider teams has won at least eight games, marking the first time that’s happened in program history. Southridge is 51-34 all-time in the postseason, including a 13-4 mark during Buening’s tenure.

3. The Raider defense has limited four postseason opponents to seven or fewer points. The 2006 state finalist team also accomplished the feat before losing 20-7 to a Harding team coached by current Woodlan coach Sherwood Haydock. This unit, led by 75 solo tackles from Cole Calvert (Soph., LB), 22 tackles for loss by Mitchell Carter (Sr., DL) and six interceptions from Jacob Masterson (Sr., DB), gives up 14.2 ppg and has held 11 of its 14 foes to two touchdowns or fewer. The Raiders have forced multiple turnovers in all but one game (the 28-21 loss at Jasper) and have forced multiple turnovers in all but four games. In the last three weeks, they’ve intercepted seven passes, including two by both Masterson and Seth Nunamaker (Jr., DB).

4. Jayce Harter (Sr., QB) has accounted for 2,842 career passing yards and 1,947 career rushing yards with just one interception over the last six games covering 63 attempts. In this year’s postseason, he’s run for 117 yards per game, while Tucker Schank (Jr., RB) has gained 99 rushing yards per game during the same span, pushing his career yardage total over 3,000. In Schank, Harter and Colin Smith (Sr., RB), the Raiders have three players with more than 730 rushing yards. Among the state finals teams, only Columbus East and Pioneer run for more yards per game than Southridge’s 287.


Woodlan Warriors

Record: 12-2 overall, 5-1 in Allen County Conference

Ranking: No. 6

Coach: Sherwood Haydock (55-28 in seven years at Woodlan, 188-147 in 30 seasons overall)

Road to state: Sectional — obliterated Prairie Heights 68-0 then dumped Wabash 32-8 and Central Noble 44-19. Regional — topped North Newton 40-28. Semistate — clipped No. 1 Eastbrook 15-14.

Previous state finals appearances: 1981, (runner-up in Class 1A)

1. Woodlan is located in eastern Allen County, between Fort Wayne and the Ohio border in the town of Woodburn. Southridge’s last three opponents at the football state finals have all been from Allen County: Fort Wayne Bishop Luers in 2002 and Harding in 2006. Haydock coached against Southridge in the 2006 state finals when he was the head coach at Harding. In his 30th year of coaching overall, Haydock spent nine seasons at Harding before shifting to Woodlan, where he’s been for the last seven years. Woodlan was 4-16 in Haydock’s first two seasons but the Warriors are 51-12 over the last five years, including a 25-game regular-season win streak from the end of 2014 until midway through this season.

2. Jack Rhoades (Sr., RB) has 2,089 rushing yards this season and more than 4,700 for his career. He carried the ball 35 times for 145 yards in the semistate win over Eastbrook. Rhoades missed the regional because he was suspended after being ejected for kicking an opposing player in the sectional title game (IHSAA rules stipulate that ejected players serve a one-game suspension). Without Rhoades in the regional, Amarion Hicks (Sr., WR/RB) ran for 234 yards and three TDs.

3. To win the semistate, Luke Crilly (Sr., K) crept a 28-yard field goal over the cross bar as time expired as Woodlan wiped out a 14-6 deficit in the fourth quarter. Crilley is 3-for-6 in FG attempts and has missed at least one extra point in eight of the 11 games in which he’s tried a PAT. Aaron Hahn (Sr., P) averages 42.2 yards per punt.

4. In three years, Justin Durkes (Sr., QB) has better than 5,600 career passing yards. Donald Guerrant (Sr., TE) leads the team with 59 catches while Ah’Lan Howard (Sr., WR) has 10 TD catches. Durkes throws for 172 yards per game but he’s been intercepted 14 times; one of those interceptions was returned for a TD in the semistate. Woodlan, whose losses were 27-20 to Lima (Ohio) Central Catholic and 30-21 at Adams Central, allows 12.9 ppg. Sebastian Spieth (Jr., LB) has 99 solo tackles.

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