After a season-opening loss to Center Grove, Warren Central High School football coach Jayson West said his team could finish the regular season 2-7 and still have a chance to make a deep run in the playoffs.
He was half-joking, I think, at least about the record. But the days of the 15-0 state champion (as West’s Lawrence Central team was last year in Class 5A) in Class 6A may be out the window.
Take a look at this week’s Associated Press top 10: No. 1 Center Grove, No. 2 Penn, No. 6 Homestead and No. 9 Southport are the last of the ranked unbeaten teams. Previously top-ranked Lawrence Central (3-1) saw its 18-game winning streak snapped last week by fifth-ranked Carmel (2-2) in a 17-7 defensive struggle at Lucas Oil Stadium and fell to No. 4 in the poll.
This week offers the Bears an opportunity to cause more shakeup in the rankings, if not reclaim their No. 1 spot. Center Grove visits Lawrence Central in a rematch of last year’s semistate game won by Lawrence Central 28-15.
Center Grove has already navigated through Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference rivals Warren Central, Carmel and Pike, the latter a narrow 14-13 victory last week as Luke Calvert passed for 173 yards and a touchdown.
I’m ashamed to admit that my 34-8 record last week (81.0 percent) was not good enough to beat challenger Don Helmick, who had a 35-7 record (83.3 percent). My record overall, however, improved to 132-40 (76.7 percent) on the season.
Check out blogs.indystar.com/preps for a look at predictions on all of this week’s area high school games (all games 7 p.m. unless noted). I’ll take on another challenger this week.
Center Grove (4-0) at Lawrence Central (3-1): All signs point to a defensive struggle. Center Grove’s offense has been more consistent than Lawrence Central’s of late. Center Grove 17, Lawrence Central 14.
Cathedral (2-2) at Cincinnati St. Xavier (2-1), 7:30 p.m.: It was another excellent performance by Cathedral quarterback Collin Barthel last week in a 37-35 win over Bishop Chatard. Barthel was 22-for-31 for 213 yards and three touchdowns passing and led the Irish 86 yards for the game-winning score with 10 seconds remaining. St. Xavier, which defeated Ben Davis 34-7 three weeks ago, has dominated this series through the years. St. Xavier 34, Cathedral 24.
Cardinal Ritter (3-1) vs. Bishop Chatard (2-2), at Lawrence North: Chatard’s Sam Gleaves passed for 163 yards and three touchdowns last week against Cathedral and Alex Kimack rushed for 131 yards on 27 carries. That offensive balance would seem to bode well against Ritter, a team that allowed 49 points in its only loss of the season, to Brebeuf Jesuit. Jake Purichia has already passed for 1,026 yards and 16 touchdowns (one interception) through four games. Bishop Chatard 35, Cardinal Ritter 32.
Whiteland (3-1) at New Palestine (4-0), 7:30 p.m.: This has all the makings of a fun, offensive shootout. New Palestine has scored 41 points or more in all four games, while Whiteland has done it in three games. New Palestine quarterback Blake Luker is having a great season, passing for 844 yards and touchdowns and rushing for 387 yards and seven TDs. New Palestine 45, Whiteland 31.
Zionsville (2-2) at Westfield (3-1): Take a second look at that Westfield score last week: Westfield 37, Brownsburg 13. The Shamrocks are a three-overtime loss to Fishers from a perfect record right now and a step closer to their first winning season in six years. Westfield 21, Zionsville 20.
Pike (2-2) vs. Ben Davis (2-2), at Lucas Oil Stadium, 7:30 p.m. Saturday: Pike could easily be 4-0 right now after heartbreaking losses to Cincinnati Moeller and Center Grove. Ben Davis’ 24-7 loss to Warren Central showed the Giants have a long way to go. A win here would be a good start in the other direction. Pike 28, Ben Davis 21.