What we learned from IHSAA football regionals in SW Indiana
EVANSVILLE — Two teams in Southwestern Indiana saw their seasons come to a close night while three others survived to play at least another week of football.
Only one more game stands between the IHSAA state finals at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. And three Pocket Athletic Conference teams, Heritage Hills, Gibson Southern and North Posey are all still in the running for state.
Here is what we learned about the regional action from across the Evansville area.
The Patriots have thrived on takeaways all season. They've had at least one in every postseason game. And Hunter Meredith's game-sealing interception on the road against Batesville was one of the season's biggest plays.
Heritage Hills is one of the two PAC teams moving on to the next round after defeating the Bulldogs 24-21. Sophomore quarterback Jett Goldsberry totaled three touchdowns (two rushing, one passing) to give him 33 on the year while fellow classmate Tyler Ruxer notched his seventh receiving touchdown while snagging one of the Patriots' three interceptions.
The Class 3A No. 7 Patriots (12-1) have 10 interceptions this postseason; this was also their third postseason game with multiple picks. They will face No. 6 Gibson Southern at "The Jungle" for semistate. The last playoff meeting between the two teams was the 2021 sectional championship, which the Titans won 42-7. Both teams have won semistate titles within the last four seasons.
Gibson Southern (11-2) also looks to complete a season sweep after defeating Heritage Hills 31-28 in Week 6 at Fort Branch.
The party still rolls on in Poseyville.
Class 2A No. 4 North Posey will get to host its first semistate matchup since 2005 after it defeated top-ranked Triton Central 28-13 in Fairland. The Vikings' offense continued to roll against the Tigers (11-2) as Liam Stone totaled three touchdowns. This was the third time this postseason the senior quarterback had more than one rushing touchdown.
The Vikings (12-1) held Triton Central to their season-low in points — it was averaging over 39 points per game. North Posey has held its opponents to under 30 in all but one game this season, which was the overtime sectional semifinal victory against Mater Dei.
It will host a Southmont (8-5) team seeking its first-ever semistate title. The Mounties are having quite a playoff run after ending the regular season on a four-game losing streak. Two of their four postseason wins have come in overtime.
High school football in SW Indiana:Complete coverage from the 2023 season
Although North and Memorial saw their season come to an end, there's plenty for them to be proud of about their 2023 campaigns.
Memorial was blown out 47-7 to Class 4A No. 1 East Central (13-0) behind a five-touchdown performance from standout running back Josh Ringer. The Tigers (9-4) last allowed over 40 points in a playoff game in the 2021 semistate loss to Mount Vernon (Fortville).
But many key faces will return next season for the Tigers, from Luke Ellspermann to Matthew Fisher to Alex Broshears. They overcame plenty of adversity this season to win another sectional championship and with that experience, the Tigers should continue to be a contender within the SIAC and beyond.
And while North fell 42-21 to Class 5A No. Bloomington South (11-1), this was the Huskies' winningest season since 2007. It went through 12 losing seasons in between regional appearances. But things have turned around for North (8-4) with Joey Paridaen at the helm, and having back-to-back winning campaigns after three straight 5-5 years is certainly something to be proud of.
Tanner Boyd and Sean DeLong also lead one of the area’s most prolific offenses. The Titans' offense is averaging over 35 points per game and their defense is just as dominant.
Gibson Southern has not allowed an in-state opponent to reach the 30-point mark since last year's sectional opener against Vincennes Lincoln. It's limited opponents to fewer than 20 points nine times during that span. And while the Titans rallied from a 14-0 deficit against Tri-West, it was the defense that continued to step up to get the 38-21 victory.
The Titans have advanced to semistate title for the fifth time in Nick Hart's tenure. Their upcoming showdown with Heritage Hills is the fourth time they're on the road for the semistate round. This is also the first time since 2007 more than one PAC team is playing at semistate at the same time.
As the magical season continues for the PAC, we're now guaranteed to have at least one area team in Indianapolis.
Courier & Press sports reporter Treasure Washington can be reached via her email, firstname.lastname@example.org, and on X, formerly known as Twitter, @Twashington490.