Northridge to face undefeated NorthWood in sectional championship

Published: Nov. 3, 2022 at 1:01 PM EDT
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MIDDLEBURY, Ind. (WNDU) - High school football playoffs in the state of Indiana have reached the sectional finals, and just like last season, a Northridge team that went 5-4 in the regular season is playing November football.

In fact, just like last season, the team standing in the way of the Raiders and another sectional title is undefeated.

Last season, Leo was the victim of Northridge’s playoff run. This year, it could be NorthWood – a team the Raiders are very familiar with, considering they are conference rivals.

“They know it’s a new season,” said Northridge Head Coach Chad Eppley. “The stuff in the regular season doesn’t matter at all now, so they just focus on the ‘now’ aspect of it. It’s the first of a five-game series to get to state, and we talked about plateauing at the right time at the end of the season. That’s what we preach a lot, so I think that’s what’s ingrained in them, and they believe.”

“Last year, we played an 11-0 team for a sectional championship,” said Jethro Hochstetler, senior wide receiver and defensive back. “This year, we play an 11-0 team for a sectional championship. This year, we’ve got to go and play like we have nothing to lose.”

“It’s definitely exciting, especially against a team like NorthWood,” said Qade Carrington, senior quarterback. “They’re a really good team, and it’d be nice to beat them just because we live so close to them. There’s kind of a little bit of a rivalry there. Just knowing last year, we beat an undefeated team. If we can do that again, definitely a lot of confidence going into the regional game, and like I said maybe even going all the way to state again.”

In the regular season meeting, the Panthers got the win in Middlebury, 42-7. In the postseason, they’ll meet in Nappanee.

The Raiders discussed how the familiarity of NorthWood affects this win-or-go-home scenario.

“It’s nice for us,” Eppley said. “Last week, we went against a Logansport team that we as a staff hadn’t faced, and as a high school, I think we’ve faced one other time, so we were very unfamiliar with them. We didn’t know what we were going to get, things like that. But being able to play NorthWood and being familiar with them, it’s going to help us out a lot just because we know what to expect. We know what we’re going to get.”

“We’ve seen them before, and they’ve seen us before,” Hochstetler said. “But at the end of the day, it’s no different than previous games. We’re both very solid teams. It’s just whoever comes out with the best gameplan is going to win.”

Kickoff on Friday night is set for 7 p.m.