Kats claim share of crown
Sectionals on tap as week nine of regular season closes out conference campaigns
Thursday, October 20, 2016 5:00 AM
The Kokomo Wildkats capped an impressive regular season with a 44-21win on the road at Indianapolis Arsenal Technical to claim a share of the North Central Conference championship. Eastern and Western also improved on their season records in the week before sectional while Taylor and Northwestern fell.
Tyler Knepley helped lead the Western Panthers to a regular season ending victory over Twin Lakes in Hoosier Conference action. The Panthers, along three of the four other Howard County squads, begin its quest for a state championship on Friday night. (Herald Photo/Randy Messner)
The Wildkats claimed the NCC title for the second consecutive year and 19th time overall. The Kats will share the title with Harrison and McCutcheon after taking down Tech in Indianapolis. Coach Brett Colby now has seven NCC titles in his 10 years at Kokomo. Colby’s 79 victories are second most in Kats history (Bob Hamilton has 147) and his .760 winning percentage is the best ever.
Steven Edwards started the scoring machine for Kokomo with a 10-yard run early in the first quarter and Keenen Wheeler’s 18-yard dash give minutes later made it 14-0 Kats. Tech cut the lead to seven before Wheeler scored his second touchdown of the first quarter with 27 ticks left. Wheelers third touchdown – a 4-yard jaunt – gave Kokomo a 28-7 halftime lead.
Kyle Wade’s quarterback scramble for a 20-yard score made it 35-13 early in the third and Nick Fox put two points on the board for the defense when he stopped Danny Wiley Jr. in the end zone for a safety to close the third stanza. Wheeler added a fourth touchdown in the final stanza as he recorded 155 rushing yards for the game. Edwards also went into triple-digits with 108 rushing yards while the Kats defense held Tech to a mere 23 yards on the ground.
The Eastern Comets are getting red-hot as the state tournament approaches as the defeated previously ranked North White 65-38. The Comets have won three straight games for the first time since 2011 and had its highest point output since that same season. The Comets turned four interceptions into 30 points to finish fifth in the Hoosier Heartland Conference. Clayton McKillip had two of the interceptions and Dontae Nolder took the opening kickoff to the end zone for an early lead.
Northwestern ran into a buzz saw by the name of West Lafayette quarterback Mikey Kidwell, who passed for 135 yards and a touchdown and ran for another 146 and a score as the Class 3A fourth-ranked Red Devils won 51-22. Jonah Williams added three touchdowns, including a 75-yard pick-six and a 47-yard run as the Red Devils led 35-8 at halftime in the Hoosier Conference third place game. Justin Ballenger ran for 109 yards for the Tigers; Noah Dowden, Trey Richmond and Wesley Satterfield scored.
For the fourth time in five seasons, the Taylor Titans have failed to win a regular season football game as they lost the ninth place contest in the Hoosier Heartland Conference 21-18 to Frontier. Claeb Murdock led Taylor with 196 yards rushing. The good news for Taylor is it drew another winless team, Blackford, in the opening round of the sectional.
The Western Panthers are a different team with Tyler Knepley at quarterback, and now that his injury is in the past, the squad is ready for a sectional run. The Panthers took home a seventh place finish in the Hoosier Conference as Knepley had 241 yards rushing and three touchdowns while adding a pick-six on defense in a 43-19 win over Twin Lakes. Kitchel Gifford had a touchdown run and a half-back pass for a score to Reed Hubberts and Andrew Ault rushed for 111 yards.
Finally. first-year Lewis Cass head coach grabbed win No. 1 to stay out of last place in the Hoosier Conference with a 41-21 victory over Benton Central. Brady Johnson and Drake Hall scored in the first quarter to give the Kings an early lead. Johnson scored a second touchdown in the third quarter, and after a Benton Central score, Caden Zeck put the game away with a 13-yard touchdown run. Johnson scored a third touchdown on a 70-yard fourth quarter run.
This week’s sectional opening round schedule includes (all games at 7 p.m.): Mooresville at Western, Fort Wayne Bishop Luers at Northwestern, Lewis Cass at Winamac, Taylor at Blackford and Eastern at Eastbrook. Kokomo has a bye week.