Here are IndyStar Prep Insider Kyle Neddenriep’s top-10 games involving area teams for the regular season.
If this list seems frontloaded with games early in the season, there’s reason for it. By the last couple weeks of the regular season, I’m usually ready for the tournament to begin. We’ll count it down from No. 10 to No. 1:
No. 10: Bishop Chatard at Roncalli, Sept. 2
Chatard is coming off another Class 3A state title, its state-record 13th championship. Senior running back Gabe Coleman (1,887 yards, 16 TDs) carried the load last year for the Trojans. Roncalli reached the Class 4A semistate last year before losing to East Central. Chatard has won 11 of the last 13 meetings in the series.
No. 9: Lawrence Central vs. Lawrence North, at Lucas Oil Stadium, Sept. 2
There’s nothing Lawrence North would like more than to knock off the rival Bears for the first time in 11 tries (the 2007 season-opener was the most-recent Lawrence North win). The Wildcats were 3-8 last year under fourth-year coach Patrick Mallory and could make a statement with a strong start (games vs. Noblesville and Brownsburg the first two weeks). Lawrence Central plays McCutcheon and Bishop Chatard in its first two games under new coach Bill Peebles.
No. 8: Cincinnati St. Xavier vs. Cathedral, at Butler, Sept. 16
A game the previous week against Bishop Chatard will be a challenge, but I’d expect Cathedral to go into this one against the traditional Ohio power with a 4-0 record. Despite some close calls along the way, Cathedral has lost 13 consecutive games to St. Xavier. That includes a 31-17 loss last year. This could be the year for the Irish to end the streak.
No. 7: Avon at Brownsburg, Sept. 9
Granted, Avon won last year’s two meetings by a combined 117-35. But Brownsburg has some renewed enthusiasm with John Hart entering his first year as coach and Hunter Johnson, arguably the nation’s top high school quarterback, behind center. Avon loses an excellent senior class led by quarterback Brandon Peters, but the Orioles have a lot of talent returning from a 10-3 team that came about as close to a state finals appearance as humanly possible (a 35-34 double overtime loss to Center Grove in the semistate).
No. 6: Fishers at Hamilton Southeastern, Sept. 9
One of the state’s best rivalries added a sensational chapter last year when Hamilton Southeastern rallied from a 28-point deficit to win 39-33. Fishers turned around and defeated HSE 38-22 in the sectional before losing to Carmel. Both sides are looking to replace several key pieces but this is a can’t-miss game on the schedule every year.
No. 5: Ben Davis at Warren Central, Sept. 16
Both these teams have serious talent at the skill positions even with the Giants losing all-everything Chris Evans to graduation (now at Michigan). Both teams have several tough games before this one. Warren Central was 8-4 last year, hitting its stride before a 24-13 loss to Center Grove in the regional. I’d expect that game to fuel the Warriors into this season. Ben Davis also has a lot to prove after a somewhat disappointing 6-5 season following the Class 6A state title in 2014.
No. 4: Carmel at Warren Central, Oct. 7
I might put this one higher but it’s the second-to-last game of the regular season and we’ll already know the tournament draw (it’s Oct. 2). Still, this is another classic Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference rivalry. Carmel will be coming off a game against Ben Davis, while Warren Central plays Pike and Lawrence North leading up to this one. Carmel has won three of the last four in the series, although Warren Central made its win count (7-6 in the 6A championship in 2013).
No. 3: Carmel at Center Grove, Sept. 2
Another game that rarely disappoints. Carmel is 7-4 against Center Grove since 2007 and only one of the games has been decided by more than 10 points either way. Center Grove has several key players returning from its undefeated state championship team, including Mr. Football candidate Titus McCoy (1,912 rushing yards, 28 TDs). Carmel will be talented as well with senior wide receiver Jalen Walker, a Cincinnati recruit, returning after posting good numbers a year ago (855 receiving yards, 11 TDs).
No. 2: Center Grove at Ben Davis, Sept. 9
This is the fourth game of the regular season and a chance for both teams to make a big step forward. Ben Davis returns seven offensive starters, including quarterback Reece Taylor. Center Grove pushed around Ben Davis last year in a 31-19 win that wasn’t as close as the score indicated. Titus McCoy rushed for 148 yards and three touchdowns in that game. This is a matchup of the past two Class 6A champions.
No. 1: Warren Central at Center Grove, Aug. 19
Maybe it’s due to it being the season opener, but this is the game I’m most excited about right now. Last year’s regular season matchup was a good one – a 42-38 comeback win for Center Grove. The Trojans’ defense was dominant in the rematch, a 24-13 win. I’d expect this one to be a shootout. Warren Central returns a lot on the offensive side, including quarterback Zach Summeier and receivers Paul Minor and David Bell. We’ll know a lot more about both these MIC powers after Week 1.
Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.