Make no mistake about it. When you walked around the Decatur Central football field this week, the Hawks (5-4) all knew what they were preparing for in Friday’s opening Sectional game against Cathedral (4-5). The Hawks know they are playing against one of the most historic programs in the state, the defending Class 4A State champions for three straight years, and more important to this season, a team that is much better than their losing record suggests.
Decatur Central knows what they have on their plates on Friday night, and where perhaps most teams might not be looking forward to the opportunity to play the Fighting Irish, the Hawks seem to be very welcoming to the idea.
“This is the first time that Decatur Central has played Cathedral,” said Hawks Senior Jack Weldon. “I know we have definitely played a bunch of great teams in our past in our sectional cause we’ve had a tough sectional. But Cathedral definitely holds up to that tough sectional name, and we’re proud to have the opportunity.”
And that sets the tone for “Football Friday Night’s” Buffalo Wild Wings Game of the Week, as Cathedral looks to win in their first ever Class 5A State tournament game, and the Hawks are looking to get a proud win over a team they respect.
Decatur enters Friday night with some momentum on their side, winning five of their last six games after starting off the season 0-3. Of course that 0-3 record is a little bit different than most teams that started defeated to start the season, as the Hawks scored a combined 175 points in those three losses. Decatur has continued their scoring ways since, averaging 48.8 points per game throughout the entire season, but the defense has held up and allowed under 20 points per game three times since. That statistic includes a 28-7 victory over Franklin last Friday.
“I think defensively that is the best that we’ve played all year,” said Decatur Central Head Coach Justin Dixson. “Franklin is a big team that wanted to run the ball, and I think our defensive line and our linebacking core did outstanding, probably the best they have played all year. I thought we tackled well, and anytime you hold a team that wants to run to those stats, I think it shows an outstanding effort.”
On Friday night the Hawks will have to bring that type of effort against the Irish, a team that can put some points on the board as well averaging 28.3 points per game. As they normally do Cathedral has played competition from all across the state and neighboring states, having lost last Friday’s game to Cincinnati Moeller 35-14 in a road contest. However Cathedral is 4-2 against in-state competition, with those two losses coming to top-ranked Class 6A squads Ben Davis and Warren Central.
Which is why the Hawks know they will have some top-notch competition coming to visit them on Friday night, even if Cathedral is playing in Class 5A sectional-play for the first time.
“They are a great football team and are always a great football team,” said Dixson. “I don’t think anything is different this year and it’s going to take an outstanding effort from our guys to be able to compete. But I know we will play hard and compete for four quarters, and hopefully we can minimize mistakes and be right there at the end of the game.”
The Buffalo Wild Wings Game of the Week will be recapped on “Football Friday Night” on WXIN Fox59 at 10:35 pm, and make sure to join Fox59 Sports Chris Hagan out at the pregame tailgate for free wings at around 5:30.