A week before the IHSAA season had kicked off, I sat on the Fox 59 "Football Friday Night" set and declared that week seven had the biggest game of the season in it. Well, eight weeks later and would anybody question that Class 5A number-one Warren Central vs. number-two Carmel isn't a contest that is comparable to the clash of the Titans?
But look past the most obvious game on the schedule, and there are some hidden gems along the way. Conference titles are being won and lost across the state of Indiana on Friday night, and possibly even more importantly, teams are finally hitting the post-season groove that they hope to ride into the playoffs.
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 5A #1 Warren Central (6-0) vs. Class 5A #2 Carmel (6-0)
301-40.8. That is the total score of the Carmel Greyhounds have scored against their opponents so far in 2011, in which those teams the Greyhounds have beaten have a combined winning record. Yet somehow, the Greyhounds enter Lucas Oil Stadium tomorrow night as the underdogs. Never mind that quarterback Brandon Denning and Jalen Duncan have combined for 21 rushing touchdowns, the defense has allowed only one scoring possession in the past three games, and that Carmel has an underrated passing game.
The Warriors are the creme de la creme in high school football until somebody knocks them off the pedestal. Boasting a two-game winning streak of the Greyhounds that includes a 37-27 victory over the Greyhounds last season, Warren Central cruised past Terre Haute North 50-19 last Friday in a performance that saw Kyle Faunce near flawless, going 13-16 with 251 yards and three touchdowns. Throw in the three touchdown return of Senior Deionte Buckley and a defense loaded with division-one prospects that let all nineteen points score when the squad was up 50-0, and you can understand why Warren Central is viewed to be this good.
I would be shocked to see any of these two teams dominate the other, and wouldn't be surprised if a 17-14 victory came down to the wire for one squad. These two teams may possibly see each other in Sectionals in just three weeks, but bragging rights and the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference championship could be at stake.
2. Indianapolis Northwest (1-5) vs. Indianapolis Howe (4-2)
Anytime a conference championship can be won, I'm counting myself in. Making it's Pick Six debut for the first time since I've been writing this column in the past two years, the Indianapolis Public School Conference can be sealed up by Indianapolis Howe with a victory over Northwest. Howe is coached under first year head coach Anthony Henderson, who's Hornets have bounced back from an 0-2 start from the season to win it's previous four games by twice defeating opponents by forty-plus points in the previous four contests. Senior Tim Johnson at quarterback is a dual-threat player and is one of the better raw athletes in Central Indiana, and you don't want to take your eyes off of him before he breaks out a 50-yard pass or throw.
3. Fort Wayne Dwenger (4-2) vs. Class 3A #1 Bishop Chatard (5-1)
Vince Lorenzano's Trojans have proved all season long that they are an unstoppable force in class 3A football, and after disposing Class 4A Northview 37-0 last Friday, they maybe a top-four team in Class 4A if they were allowed. Senior quarterback Max VanVliet threw for two touchdowns and 172 yards, while star back Ryan Kleinschmidt ran for 83 yards and a score. But Dwenger supports a rushing attack that has tremendous depth, led by Steven Espinoza's 503 yards and eight touchdowns. The Saints are the last team above the Trojans' class in which they play all season long, and I'm sure Dwenger would love nothing better than defeating Chatard to help forget the 42-3 loss to Cathedral two weeks before.
4. Class 5A #4 Ben Davis (5-1) vs. Center Grove (5-1)
On one hand, you have a Center Grove squad that has cruised to three straight victories by a combined score of 101-21. The Trojans have two key rushers in Spencer Weeks (117) and Logan Hutson (104) coming off great games against Lawrence North, not to mention they have defeated the Giants in six straight match-ups.
Ben Davis on the other hand are pretty good at playing football too. Averaging 39.3 points per game on offense, the Giants put up a 63-spot en route to victory over Terre Haute South last Friday. Matt Brock continues to get better each week under the helm at quarterback, Lamont Osborne (two touchdowns, 50 yards in previous weeks' victory) continues to prove why he is one of the most explosive backs in the state.
Both of these squads will be fighting for an outside shot at a share of the MIC championship, but it will be interesting to see how the Giants respond into playing in front of Center Grove's impressive home crowd, where the Trojans haven't lost all season long.
5. Decatur Central (5-1) vs. Greenwood (4-2)
Both of these squads are undefeated in Mid-State conference play, with the Hawks holding a 4-0 to 3-0 lead over the Woodmen. A win for Decatur Central all but wraps things up for Coach Dixon and his boys, who are coming off an impressive 30-6 victory over Plainfield. Greenwood just dropped a tough 17-14 loss to Guerin Catholic at home last Friday night, but quarterback Ben Heller is coming off his third 100-plus rushing game of the season.
6. Munster (2-4) vs. Hobart (1-5)
The Brickies, also known as the team with the best nickname in the land, are coming off a crushing 19-17 loss to Lowell thanks to a 12-play, 72-yard drive the Red Devils ran late in the fourth quarter. You live, you learn, and then you dominate. Yes my boys haven't won a game since an opening week 33-6 victory over Gary West, and yes the team has failed to crack the 20-point barrier since, but I have to believe Coach Ryan Turley's boys are playing possum until they come alive right before the playoffs!
And if not, you only have three more columns left of me banking on my boys to bring home a big victory.