Eastern Hancock has already toppled one giant this postseason. The Royals will get the chance to take down another heavyweight Friday night.
In the Sectional 37 championship game at the University of Indianapolis’ Key Stadium, Eastern Hancock (6-5) will look to upend Class A No. 7 Scecina (8-3) — the defending state runner-ups — and capture their first sectional title since 2006.
The Royals shocked Class A No. 5 and previously unbeaten Hagerstown in the sectional quarterfinals before defeating Northeastern 34-6 last Friday.
With a victory, EH would host either Attica (9-3) or No. 6 North Vermillion (12-0) next Friday. Scecina would either travel to Vermillion be home against Attica.
Eastern Hancock coach Pat Echeverria is attempting to funnel that momentum into another Friday night stunner, as his Royals enter as 18-point underdogs against the Crusaders.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to play for a sectional championship,” offered the second-year coach. “I told the kids, ‘It’s not like the NBA or MLB. It’s not a seven-game series. We just have to win on one night.’”
Echeverria compared Scecina to Indian Creek — who defeated EH 42-32 on Aug. 31 — instead of Hagerstown.
“They’re two completely different teams,” he offered. “Scecina is a very physical, nasty team up front. Hagerstown was more of a finesse team.
“(But) beating Hagerstown showed our kids that they can play with anyone.”
The Eastern Hancock defense stands to receive a stiff test versus a run-heavy, multiple-back Scecina offense that ranks 10th in Class A in scoring (33.5 points per game) and has been tested against two formidable teams in 4A No. 3 Roncalli and 2A No. 1 Ritter.
“We’re a running team. We’ve got five or six running backs that we’ll run in and out to try and keep them fresh,” said Ott Hurrle, 138-107 in 21 seasons at Scecina. “We’ve got a 5-9 QB (Robert Rennick), so we’re going to run the ball unless we’re forced to throw.”
Hurrle said injuries have limited the Crusaders’ ability to pass. The team’s top two left tackles will be unavailable Friday.
“We can’t afford to lose any more linemen,” he noted.