Can Warren Central repeat in 6A?
Jayson West restored Warren Central to power in short order, leading the Warriors to a Class 6A state title in his first season as coach. Warren Central isn’t a clear-cut favorite to repeat, however, as fellow Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference powers Ben Davis and Carmel arguably have more talent returning. Center Grove would appear to have a good shot of at least making the semistate once again. The muscle still resides in the MIC.
Is the IHSAA’s tournament success factor having its intended impact?
It’s probably too early to tell, but it’s no surprise that the smaller private-school programs have been impacted the most so far. The IHSAA implemented the rule primarily to deal with the dominance of private schools in football but applied the rule to all schools and all sports. Of the five programs to move up last year, all were private schools. Only Cathedral, in 5A, advanced beyond the regional. That would seem to indicate the success factor is leveling the playing field. With a regional title this year, Cathedral will move up to 6A for the next two-year cycle.
Is there another Southport out there?
In part aided by the defection of Lawrence Central and Pike from Conference Indiana to the MIC, surprising Southport ran off 11 consecutive wins before losing to Center Grove in the regional. Who is this year’s sleeper team? Don’t overlook Southport again, which returns quarterback Luke Johnston. Fishers or Hamilton Southeastern would first have to get past Carmel in Sectional4 and Avon could be a team to watch but has to deal with Ben Davis and Pike in Sectional 5. Whiteland is coming off a 9-3 season in 5A and Tri-West returns a lot of skill position talent from a nine-win season in 3A.
Who are the front-runners for IndyStar Mr. Football?
Last year, Cathedral’s Terry McLaurin became the second wide receiver to win IndyStar Mr. Football since it was first awarded in 1992. This is a strong year for defense, with highly talented linebackers like Asmar Bilal of Ben Davis and Darrin Kirkland Jr. of Lawrence Central and Warren Central safety Mykelti Williams. Offensive names to watch are quarterbacks Kyle Castner of Ben Davis, Tommy Stevens of Decatur Central and Isaac James of Carmel, along with running backs LeVante’ Bellamy (Brebeuf Jesuit) and Tirone Young (Warren Central). Outside the area, Columbus East running back Markell Jones, a Purdue recruit, can make some noise.
How serious is the concussion issue?
High school coaches are tired of hearing and reading about the topic, I’m assured. But on our preview questionnaire, many coaches pointed to the concussion issue as the No. 1 topic facing high school football. We probably need two or three more years at least to understand how the numbers are impacted by the studies on concussions and sub-concussive impacts in football. A better indicator will be the numbers at the youth levels.
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.