It’s rivalry week on the local high school football scene as week seven arrives Friday night.
Bragging rights and traveling trophies will be on the line for a pair of conference games.
Motivation should not be a factor as Warsaw travels to Syracuse to face country and Northern Lakes Conference rival Wawasee and Tippecanoe Valley welcomes in Three Rivers Conference foe and neighbor Rochester.
The Tigers, who have won three in a row, will try to keep the W Trophy. The Warriors will not only try to get it back, but also snap a three-game losing skid.
Valley, fresh off its first win of the season, will face a winless Rochester team. The Zebras do hold the Bell Trophy after a 17-10 win last year.
In other action, Whitko looks to bounce back from its first loss of the season at winless Manchester and Triton looks for its first win of the year on the road at North Judson in another pair of league matchups.
Also, the pairings for the state tournament series are set for Sunday night at 8 p.m. in Indianapolis. First-round sectional games are set for Friday, Oct. 21 in Class 1-A through Class 5-A with Class 6-A sectional openers on Friday, Oct. 28.
Here is a quick look at the local docket for Friday night.
Warsaw (4-2, 3-1) at Wawasee (3-3, 1-3) 7 p.m.
Warsaw wants to stay in contention for a championship.
Wawasee wants to right the ship.
The pair of Kosciusko County rivals both have plenty to play for that’s for sure.
“There’s a lot on the line for us,” said Warsaw coach Phil Jensen. “Two of our goals in the W Trophy and in staying in contention to have the chance to play for a conference championship.”
The Tigers are 3-1 in the NLC, trailing league leader NorthWood (4-0). Warsaw travels to Nappanee next week to face the Class 4-A No. 2 and undefeated Panthers.
But, first things first.
“Wawasee’s quarterback (Tyler Smith) is really good,” Jensen said. “He’s big, strong and athletic. Their defense is pretty physical. They are almost the opposite of us in a lot of ways.
“We have been solid in all three phases of the game and that’s what we need Friday night. We need to keep getting better each week.”
Warsaw routed Goshen 43-14 a week ago as senior quarterback Michael Jensen fired four touchdown passes, including three to D’Andre Street. The Tigers are averaging almost 35 points-per-game and have outscored Memorial, Northridge and Goshen 126-22 the past three weeks.
Wawasee dropped a tough 33-16 final at Plymouth. The Warriors have lost to Concord, NorthWood and Plymouth the past three weeks and have allowed 135 points. Missed opportunities on offense proved costly to Wawasee last week in the loss to the Rockies, who like Warsaw are 3-1 in the NLC.
“We just need to execute and finish,” said Wawasee coach Josh Ekovich. “We have to eliminate the would of, should of and could ofs. Our guys are positive. There’s plenty of motivation for them this week.
“We need to go in and play our game. We need to limit their big plays and put pressure on Jensen (quarterback Michael Jensen). We have to take what they give us and try and keep the ball out of their hands. They have the potential to score every time.”
Warsaw beat Wawasee 21-0 a year ago.
Rochester (0-6, 0-4) at Tippecanoe Valley (1-5, 1-3), 7 p.m.
It’s pretty simple to Valley co-coach Jeff Shriver.
“The Bell game is a big deal to all of us,” said Shriver. “They have it and we want it.”
Shriver throws out the notion that this will be an easy time for his team despite the fact that Rochester is reeling. The Zebras lost 70-6 to Northfield last week and have been outscored 340-47 this season.
“We are treating them like they won 70-0 last week,” noted Shriver of the Zebras. “This is a great rivalry game with two teams who are trying to get better. It’s an emotional game for bragging rights that comes down to who wants it more.”
Valley got some big plays from its defense last week and then held on to top Manchester 31-28 last Friday.
“Our kids deserved a win and I was excited for them,” remarked Shriver. “They are resilient. We just need to keep getting better.”
Rochester beat Valley 17-10 a year ago.
Whitko (5-1, 3-1) at Manchester (0-6, 0-4), 7 p.m.
The Wildcats look to rebound after tasting defeat for the first time in a 52-35 setback to pass-happy Southwood last week.
“It was a total team letdown last week, including myself,” said first-year Whitko coach Jeff Sprunger. “We weren’t prepared. I have to get better.
“I think that our guys have responded well. We had a good practice Monday night. They had a look of hunger. They know that loss does not hurt our goal of playing for a TRC championship if we take care of business. I think that they will come out Friday night and want to make a point and gain some respect back.”
Southwood threw for 453 yards in outscoring the Wildcats. Manchester dropped a 31-28 final to Tippecanoe Valley last week.
“They are one of the better 0-6 football teams that I have seen,” said Sprunger of the Squires. “They play good football. I know that they will be motivated. We’ve made some tweaks with our defense and will be ready. We went back to the basics as far as tackling and fundamentals.”
Whitko beat Manchester 35-0 last season.
Triton (0-6, 0-5) at North Judson (2-4, 2-3), 7:30 p.m.
The Trojans will need to stop the run if they want to slow down the Bluejays.
“Judson will try to grind it out and get chunks of yards,” noted Triton coach Ron Brown. “They have a huge offensive line and fullback. We need to fill the gaps and control the line. I truly believe that if we can stop them we have an excellent chance to win.”
Triton was bit by the turnovers bug, committing six miscues, in a 34-7 loss to Winamac last week. The Bluejays came up with a 36-6 victory over a winless West Central team.
Triton, which finished 2-8 last year, will finish the regular season versus Knox (5-1) and West Central (0-6) before the postseason arrives.
“I think that it’s extremely important for us to get some wins here in the last three games,” said Brown. “We need that going into the sectional, which is a new season.”
North Judson defeated Triton by a 62-6 final last year.