Earlier today I stopped by both Lawrence Central and Pendleton Heights for their football practices, and one idea seemed to stand out among all of the players and coaches I had spoken too.
"We're getting better in time for the postseason."
Fox 59 Sports.
This can be viewed as a critical time for a football team and it's fans. Conference title races have officially shaped up, homecoming games will be taking place across the state, and now that the weather is hitting 60 degrees and below at a rapid pace, hot chocolate (and perhaps apple cider if you are lucky) will be served at all the vendors located in the south end zones.
With that known, and both the professional and college football scene looking a little sloppy at the moment, has there ever been a better time to check out your local gridiron on a Friday night?
So as always, if you're wondering what games to check out, here are my picks for the top six games for week four of the 2011 IHSAA football season.
1. Class 4A #1 Evansville Reitz (5-0) vs. Class 5A #6 Castle (5-0)
Now normally I would go a game a lot closer to Central Indiana to open up this weekly space, but I wouldn't dear want to go through the wrath fellow coworker Jeremiah Johnson did for slighting Evansville Reitz a couple years back. Though this Panthers squad has a defense that has played a little sloppier compared to years in the past (23.8 points allowed per game), the offense has shown to be up to par averaging 36.4 points per game. Last week the Panthers snuck by Class 3A Memorial 42-32 on a controversial call in the fourth quarter, but a crew of running backs that include Maurice McRae (two touchdowns, 20 yards), KeAndre Vaughn (75 yards, one score), and De Wayne Esters (103 yards, one touchdown) have been keeping a very talented offense afloat. And don't think because they don't pass the ball that the ball isn't moved quickly, as Reitz scored in 64 seconds in less in every one of their scoring drives. So it's a different Reitz squad than the pass-heavy Panthers squad that Cathedral is used to seeing in the Semi-State, but Reitz Head Coach Tony Lewis is still supporting a 42-3 record in his four years at the school and it'll be difficult to imagine them losing anytime soon.
However, Castle isn't going to be a squad that is any for of pushover. With an offense putting up 44.8 points per game and a defense to match it's intensity (9.6 ppg), Doug Hurt's Knights have been one of the more impressive teams in Class 5A football all season long. Last Friday the Knights defeated Evansville North 35-14, and Sophomore running back Adam Finch had an another spectacular day with 164 yards and three touchdowns on 32 attempts. It's the most that Finch has carried the ball all season long, but is the third time in a row he's rushed for at least 100-plus yards, and he's scored multiple times so far this season three times. It will be interesting to see if the Reitz defense, which had eleven penalties for over 100 yards penalized last Friday, will be able to control Finch on the field.
2. Class 5A Floyd Central (5-0) vs. Class 4A #4 Columbus East (4-1)
After a 60-20 offensive outburst against New Albany last Friday night, the Olympians have outscored their last three opponents by the final of 156-41. Future Hoosier Gunner Kiel threw for 13-17 and three touchdowns on 228 yards (also rushed for a score), but Senior Andrew Wilson topped Kiel's overall yardage with 292 yards on the ground and four touchdowns. After scoring three touchdowns in the previous week, it was Wilson's first 100-plus yard game of the season, and he definitely made up for lost yardage in previous games he left early due to blowouts. When Wilson, Kiel, and the Olympians are running on full-cylinders, this Columbus East squad very well may have the best offense in the state of Indiana.
Floyd Central's defense is going to have some struggles against the Olympians (25.2 points allowed per game), but as there 52-42 victory over Jeffersonville last Friday proved, they simply will just outscore their opponents. This is in large part due to star running back Kyle Bramble, who rushed for a total of 380 yards and had six total touchdowns, including an 80-yard reception, to keep the Highlanders undefeated. However last Friday against Jeffersonville the Highlanders gave up a total of 389 pass yards, so it will be interesting to see what type of performance Gunner Kiel can have.
3. Class 5A #1 Warren Central (5-0) vs. Terre Haute South (1-4) and 4. Class 5A #2 Carmel (5-0) vs. North Central (2-3)
I'm usually not a fan of putting games that could undoubtedly be a blow-out in this column, but it will be interesting to see what types of messages the Warriors and the Greyhounds will send to one another before their highly anticipated duel at Lucas Oil Stadium next Friday. Last Friday Warren Central defeated North Central 48-16 in a game that Shaquille Breeding (156 yards, two touchdowns) carried the load for the Warriors.
Carmel on the other hand defeated Lawrence North 42-0, a team the Warriors defeated 55-7 in week three, bringing the Greyhounds overall margin of victory to 40.8 points per game. If I had to choose which one of these squads will go for the big victory tonight, I would predict that Carmel would attempt to go for the 50-point victory to see make a statement to their fellow-MIC rivals that they will be ready for one of the top teams in the nation next Friday.
5. Class 1A #1 Lafayette Central Catholic (5-0) vs. Class 2A Tipton (3-2)
I truly didn't think entering the season that there was any chance that Kevin O'Shea's Lafayette Central Catholic Knights would lose a game all season long, and halfway through the regular season, I've been completely right. Last Friday the Knights gave up a rare touchdown in a 54-7 defeat of Benton Central, with Danny Anthrop having an eye-popping type of stat sheet. Anthrop rushed for 146 yards and three touchdowns on only four rushing attempts. For good measure, he also caught three receptions for 57 yards and a receiving touchdown as well.
But last Friday night, despite the fact they lost, Tipton only lost to a very talented Class 3A West Lafayette (5-0) squad by the score of 17-7. This despite the fact that Sophomore Austin Hooker, who has been stellar for the most part and had a total of 10 touchdowns in the previous three games (including 403 yards against Benton Central) threw for three interceptions against the Red Devils.
So if there were one game that the Knights could be caught off guard, doesn't it seem likely that it could be at a small school, in an open field, on a chilly night during a game in which they are traveling a long distance to play against a tough squad like Tipton?
6. Class 4A Lowell (3-2) vs. Class 4A Hobart (1-4)
At the expense of Dan Dakich last Friday, my Hobart Brickies got creamed 48-0 on the road to the Class 2A Andrean 59ers. Yes Andrean is ranked #3 in the state for Class 2A, but against a school that's two class sizes smaller, the Brickies couldn't get into the end zone?!?!
So here's to hoping that Hobart is as enraged about this as I am, and that can will them to an upset against Lowell, who has seemed to have the Brickies number for the past decade or so.
IHSAA Football Pick Six: Week six edition
Fox 59 Sports' Ken Sothman picks what he believes are the top six games of the upcoming weekend's high school football games.
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