Football

Insider picks: Which area HS football teams can stay unbeaten?

Hunter Johnson and Brownsburg are a surprise 5-0 so far this season.

Hunter Johnson and Brownsburg are a surprise 5-0 so far this season.

With four games left in the high school football season, there are just six local teams (33 statewide) with an undefeated record. Some are surprising, others not as much. Here’s a look at the six local 5-0 teams, from least surprising to most:

New Palestine: The Dragons, ranked No. 2 in Class 5A, haven’t lost a regular-season game since Oct. 12, 2012. That’s 32 consecutive regular-season wins. Fourth-year coach Kyle Ralph is 46-2 overall with the only losses coming in the 2013 semistate game to Columbus East and last year’s Class 5A state final to Fort Wayne Snider. Despite the graduation of several key players, New Palestine has a good chance to run the table in the regular season.

Shelbyville: The Class 4A sixth-ranked Golden Bears were 6-0 last season, so this start – with many key players returning – isn’t a shock. Shelbyville’s toughest game so far as a 28-21 win over Delta, though a matchup next week with New Palestine will be a completely different challenge.

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Indiana Deaf: This is the third consecutive season that the Deaf Hoosiers have started 5-0, though Covington – Friday’s opponent – has ended the streak there the past two seasons. Senior quarterback Lance Wood leads the team in passing yards (695) and rushing yards (312).

Roncalli: The Rebels were expected to have a strong team coming off a Class 4A semistate appearance a year ago, but a 5-0 start is somewhat of a surprise considering the schedule. Roncalli has knocked off Southport, Franklin Central, Bishop Chatard and Plainfield – all ranked among the top-60 teams in the state by the Sagarin ratings – and Class 2A contender Scecina.

Brownsburg: The Class 6A seventh-ranked Bulldogs were expected to be improved, but an undefeated start with wins over Lawrence North, Avon and Fishers has been impressive. Four of Brownsburg’s wins have come by eight points or less. The Bulldogs’ most recent winning season came in 2012, when it went 9-0 in the regular season.

Covenant Christian: This is only Covenant Christian’s second year as a tournament-eligible program and first season playing a full schedule under former Zionsville coach Larry McWhorter. With the right matchup, the Warriors might be able to win a game in Sectional 45.

I was 35-7 last week on predictions to improve to 176-37 (82.6 percent) on the season. Here’s a look at six of the top area games for this week. Check indystar.com on Friday morning for a look at all of the local predictions (games 7 p.m. Friday unless noted):

Decatur Central (4-1) vs. Plainfield (3-2), at Lucas Oil Stadium, 6 p.m.: This game could decide the Mid-State Conference, or at least designate a clear front-runner. It’s also a potential preview in Sectional 13, a four-team 5A field that also includes Tech and Zionsville. Decatur Central 28, Plainfield 27.

Greenwood (4-1) at Guerin Catholic (4-1): These teams meet for the eighth consecutive year with Guerin owning a 4-3 advantage. Greenwood is looking to bounce back from a 28-0 loss last week to Plainfield. Guerin Catholic 31, Greenwood 24.

Lawrence Central (4-1) at Center Grove (4-1): Lawrence Central quarterback Donyell Meredith passed for 236 yards and three touchdowns last week in a 52-33 win over Pike. Center Grove is looking for its fifth consecutive win. Center Grove 35, Lawrence Central 21.

Monrovia (4-1) at Beech Grove (4-1): Monrovia is tied with Scecina atop the Indiana Crossroads Conference race with Beech Grove one game behind. Monrovia junior Dalton Smith has rushed for 625 yards and six touchdowns. Beech Grove quarterback Chase Andries (1,126 passing yards, 443 rushing yards) leads the Hornets. Monrovia 37, Beech Grove 34.

Tri-West (4-1) vs. Lebanon (4-1), at Lucas Oil Stadium, 8:30 p.m.: Lebanon is off to its best start in three years and a win here should vault the Tigers into the Class 4A state rankings. Senior quarterback Evan Stambaugh has passed for 1,425 yards and 18 touchdowns. Tri-West has won four in a row since its loss to West Lafayette. Tri-West 27, Lebanon 24.

Westfield (4-1) at Brownsburg (5-0): Westfield is looking to bounce back from a 21-20 loss to Hamilton Southeastern last week. This may be Brownsburg’s toughest test to date. Brownsburg 21, Westfield 20.

Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.

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