Bishop Chatard moved back down from 4A to 3A last year and went on to win its state-record 13th state championship. The Trojans have competition here, however, with a number of competitive local teams in this class.
(IN ORDER OF PROJECTED FINISH)
West Lafayette (13-2)
Hamilton Heights (7-4): Expectations are high as the Huskies return seven starters on both sides of the ball. The skill positions are loaded with seniors Clayton Cowan (1,311 rushing yards), Sterling Weatherford (25 catches, 418 yards) and Jesse Brown (45 catches, 589 yards) all returning. It could be a special season if the lines develop.
North Montgomery (8-4)
Western Boone (8-2): The Stars had a tough draw last season, getting state runner-up West Lafayette in the first round of the sectional. Justin Pelley’s team will be reliant on several young and inexperienced players at key spots. Junior quarterback Justin Gilliam (42 catches, 440 yards) moves over from receiver.
Twin Lakes (6-5)
Benton Central (1-9)
Bishop Chatard (11-3): The Trojans returned to the winner’s circle with a 13th state championship last year. Vince Lorenzano’s squad should be strong up front with senior Ben Solomon on the offensive line and senior David Marsh on the defensive line. Senior running back Gabe Coleman (1,901 rushing yards) and senior receiver Max McGinnis (32 catches) anchor the skill positions.
Brebeuf Jesuit (5-5): The Braves played state champion Chatard to a 20-14 game in the first round of the sectional a year ago. It was the fifth consecutive year Brebeuf has lost in the tournament to the eventual state champ. Senior quarterback Luke Iffert and senior receiver Max Kucer will lead the offense.
Tri-West (8-4): The Bruins put together a solid season on the heels of its state championship in 2014 but were routed in the sectional championship by Bishop Chatard. Chris Coll’s team has several key players back, including tight end Peyton Hendershot, quarterback Jake Hill and receiver Casey Coll.
Guerin Catholic (8-3): Guerin lost to Chatard 14-7 in the second round of the sectional and Tom Dilley’s team returns with high goals this season. The Golden Eagles should be able to lean on a strong running game with an experienced offensive line and senior running back Carter McGinnis (1,281 rushing yards).
Danville (2-8): Danville looks to alum K.C. Woods to get the program going in the right direction. The Warriors return several key players, including senior quarterback Christian Schabel (1,749 passing yards, 10 TDs) and junior receiver Ben Stevens (52 catches, 552 yards) on offense.
West Vigo (7-4)
Northwest (5-5): Coach Abe Tawfeek goes into his second season looking to build off the Space Pioneers’ best record in a decade. Keshaun Brooks, a 5-8, 150-pound senior will be a playmaker for Northwest at receiver. Rayjon Wynter is a capable junior quarterback.
Indian Creek (7-4): The Braves look for their first sectional title in five years with a talented group of receivers led by senior Bryce Hogue. Junior Taylor Voris will be the quarterback for Mike Gillin’s team. The defense will be led by junior linebacker Grant Goforth, the team’s leading tackler last season.
Manual (3-7): Second-year coach Robert Orkman believes this team can double its win total from a year ago. He’ll lean on sophomore quarterback/running back De’Angelo Dean, junior quarterback/running back Coadie Barnett and senior receiver Domonic Halbert to lead the offense.
Marshall (0-10): James Brown returns for his second season as coach for the Patriots. Marshall was shut out four times last season and lost six games by 47 points or more. The Patriots open with Class A defending state champion Lafayette Central Catholic.
Washington (1-8): Andy Mappes returns for his second season at the helm for the Continentals. The overall numbers are low but the staff is more concerned with continuity than wins and losses. Players expected to lead are seniors Curtis Ferguson (tailback), Kaylin Curtis (fullback), Jalen Weathers (wingback), Johnny Hickey (quarterback), Landon Weber (tight end) and Marquez Nichols (tight end).
Call IndyStar reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.