Six more games. My last shot at a perfect week of high school football predictions.
It’s been a pretty decent year. My record was 3-1 last week (I missed on the Roncalli-East Central game) and now 397-83 (82.7 percent) on the season. The predictions are always good for some good-natured ribbing from coaches, fans and players. Hopefully you enjoy them.
On with the picks (we’ll go in the order of the state finals games at Lucas Oil Stadium):
• Lafayette Central Catholic (14-0) vs. Linton-Stockton (13-1), Class A, noonFriday: Only two teams have come remotely close to competing with top-ranked Lafayette Central Catholic. One of them, West Lafayette, is playing in the 3A state finals in the following game Friday. The Knights, going for a seventh state title, defeated West Lafayette 38-20 and Pioneer 31-14 in the regional. Other than those two games, it’s been a cakewalk.
Third-ranked Linton-Stockton, a strong football program for years, is playing in the state finals for the first time. The Miners knocked off defending champion North Vermillion 56-27 last week. Their only loss was a forfeit due to playing an academically ineligible player, a violation that was self-reported to the Indiana High School Athletic Association.
LCC is a versatile offense, but leans on senior running back Jackson Anthrop (2,097 rushing yards, 43 TDs). Linton-Stockton has four players with more than 1,000 rushing yards. The difference may be LCC’s defense, which is allowing just 5.8 points and 171 yards. LCC 31, Linton-Stockton 20.
• West Lafayette (13-1) vs. Bishop Chatard (11-3), Class 3A, 3:30 p.m. Friday: Fifth-ranked Chatard has knocked off four state-ranked teams en route to this point, including a 29-20 win over No. 1 Gibson Southern last week. No. 3 West Lafayette has played just one ranked team in the tournament, beating No. 7 Mishawaka Marian 14-10 in the semistate. Chatard is looking for its 13th state title and West Lafayette its third.
West Lafayette is unbelievably balanced on offense, averaging 239 rushing yards and 229 passing. Mikey Kidwell, a junior, has passed for 3,063 yards and 39 touchdowns. Senior Travis Rolle has 2,238 rushing yards and 27 TDs.
Chatard is strong as usual in the run game as junior Gabe Coleman has rushed for 1,769 yards and 15 touchdowns. Max McGinnis, a junior receiver, adds an element in the pass game with 409 receiving yards and four TDs. This should be one of the best games of the weekend. Bishop Chatard 24, West Lafayette 21.
• Fort Wayne Snider (12-1) vs. New Palestine (13-0), Class 5A, 7:05 p.m. Friday: This is an intriguing matchup. Snider has athletes, tradition and has played a tough schedule to get here. The fifth-ranked Panthers are more talented than any team top-ranked New Pal has played this season.
Snider can test New Pal’s secondary with quarterback Isaac Stiebeling (2,657 passing yards, 27 touchdowns/five interceptions) and receivers Mac Hippenhammer (61 catches, 844 yards), David Turner (57 catches, 773 yards, 14 TDs) and Malik Bramley (47 catches, 768 yards). Dominick Scott (980 yards, 24 TDs) and Money Woods (959 yards, 18 TDs) are closing in on 1,000 rushing yards.
But New Pal is here for a reason. Quarterback Alex Neligh (2,351 passing yards, 1,931 rushing yards) is as tough as they come. Nick Brickens (1,553 rushing yards) and receivers Duke Blackwell (820 yards) and Logan Greene (629 yards) are playmakers. New Palestine 31, Fort Wayne Snider 28.
• Whiting (13-1) vs. Monrovia (13-1), Class 2A, noon Saturday: After watching Monrovia in a 37-31 win over Howe in the semistate, it’s apparent how difficult the Bulldogs are to defend. Monrovia is averaging 428 rushing yards per game and Jaden Rhea (1,926 yards), Garrison Lee (1,560 yards) and Dalton Smith (1,479) have rolled up massive numbers on the ground.
Whiting isn’t as spectacular statistically, but quarterback Stuart Glascow (1,766 passing yards, 1,050 rushing yards) has caused opponents plenty of problems. Martin Petruf (910 receiving yards, 100 tackles) is a standout on both sides of the ball. Monrovia 37, Whiting 26.
• Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger (13-1) vs. East Central (12-2), Class 4A, 3:30 p.m. Saturday: Dwenger survived a couple of close calls in the tournament, beating Leo 24-22 and Plymouth 8-0. The Saints like to run the ball, led by Amaun Clark (1,719 yards, 23 TDs). East Central is also a heavy run team, led by quarterback Luke Patton (1,808 yards, 33 TDs) and Logan Rosemeyer (1,464 yards, 14 TDs). Dwenger 28, East Central 21.
• Penn (12-1) vs. Center Grove (13-0), Class 6A, 7:05 p.m. Saturday: After several close calls, Center Grove is back in the state finals for the first time since 2008. Can the Trojans finish the job? Penn is a legit threat, as evidenced by a 16-10 win over Carmel last week in the semistate. Penn is led by Harvard recruit Camden Bohn, who has passed for 1,268 yards and 13 touchdowns and rushed for 1,209 yards and 24 TDs.
The Kingsmen, a five-time state champion, also has an excellent defense. Penn is allowing just 13.8 points per game and 255 yards per game.
Center Grove’s wing-T has produced 308 rushing yards per game and its defense, led up front by Jovan Swann and Cameron Tidd (a combined 30 tackles for a loss), has allowed just 14.8 points per game. Titus McCoy, a potential frontrunner for IndyStar Mr. Football next year, has rushed for 1,720 yards. Center Grove 26, Penn 23.
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.