The Class 6A sectional football picture for area high schools will have a new look with the recent Indiana High School Athletic Association’s realignment.
The Class 6A Sectional 4 will include Carmel, Zionsville, Westfield and Noblesville. Hamilton Southeastern and Fishers are now paired with Fort Wayne Northrop and Homestead in Sectional 3. Last year’s Sectional 4 included Westfield, Noblesville, HSE and Fishers.
Zionsville was slated to move up from Class 5A because of the IHSAA success factor rule after finishing as the Class 5A state runner-up to Cathedral the past two seasons. However, Eagles coach Scott Turnquist said increased enrollment puts Zionsville in Class 6A, anyway. Zionsville is 25th among the 32 schools in enrollment (2,242 students in 2021-22)
“Wherever you go in 6A, there is going to be tough teams, and certainly our sectional is no exception,” Turnquist said. “From top to bottom, those programs we’re going to be in competition with are as good as you get in the state in every way, coaching, players and support. Everything about their programs is fantastic. It’s going to be a big challenge. It’s one we’re excited to take. We’ve kind of been in limbo the last few years (not knowing if the enrollment would cause a switch). It’s time to move forward with it and jump in with both feet.”
Fishers coach Curt Funk said there was a chance his team and Hamilton Southeastern could be paired with some Ft. Wayne schools in the new alignment.
“We figured with both schools’ location to I-69, it was a strong possibility,” Funk said. “No matter how you draw up the sectional, it is going to be tough in 6A, but we are excited for the challenges it brings.”
Hamilton Southeastern coach Michael Kelly expected the move as well.
“We are excited about the possibility of playing someone new in the fall,” Kelly said “Our focus is trying to get guys to buy into what’s important now and to not focus on the end of the season. I reminded them that this past year was our first (sectional title) in 6A. We don’t want to look too far down the road.”
Class 6A was added for football in 2013 for the state’s largest schools.
Carmel returns to the northern half of the Class 6A sectionals after having to go through the south sectional for the past two seasons.
“We are really focused on preparing ourselves for the playoffs the best way we can,” said Carmel coach John Hebert, whose team played in Sectional 5 in 2021. “Looking at the new sectionals, I just see great challenges, just like if we are going south. In our sectional alone, you have two straight, two-time state runners-up in Zionsville and Westfield. That’s pretty remarkable. Whoever makes it out of there will play a very tough team from Sectional 3.”
Westfield coach Jake Gilbert said Sectional 4 will be highly competitive and entertaining.
“Get your popcorn ready,” he said.
Gilbert said the IHSAA had to move two Hamilton County teams north no matter what. He said it would be either HSE and Fishers or Westfield and Noblesville moving to Sectional 4.
“We’ve won six sectionals in eight years,” Gilbert said. “We’ve got our work cut out for us for that to continue.”
Lawrence North and Lawrence Central are in the Class 6A Sectional 6 along with Cathedral, which moves up with the success factor rule.