First third: Wild SAC has Bishop Dwenger at the top heading into Week 4

This is part of a series on the state of area football conferences after the first third of the regular season.

By Justin Kenny of Outside the Huddle

Now this is fun.

In a conference in which the hierarchy of teams is typically well positioned by the one-third mark of the regular season, the unpredictability of the SAC in 2018 is a welcome change.

Entering this week, only Bishop Dwenger remains undefeated. Yet the Saints’ strength of schedule, or lack thereof, leaves plenty of questions. While Coach Jason Garrett’s team impressed in a Week 1 shutout of Wayne, the rain and mud seemingly slowed down the Generals’ offense just as much as the Saints did. Lopsided wins over North Side and South Side the last two weeks did nothing to solidify just how good Dwenger is.

So while the Saints stand atop the SAC as of this week, road showdowns at Homestead and Carroll the next two weeks will be telling.

Behind Dwenger is a huge logjam of teams that each can make a case for being the strongest in the league. Carroll demolished Snider in the most eye-opening victory in the area thus far. But the Chargers lost to Bishop Luers, who beat Homestead, who…well, you get the idea.

Despite the loss to Dwenger, Wayne at 2-1 has some momentum with a double-digit win over Bishop Luers and a slim victory over Northrop. With North Side and South Side the next two weeks, the Generals should be 4-1 entering a brutal final month of the regular season. Is Wayne up to the task of securing Ws over Snider, Concordia, Homestead and Carroll in consecutive weeks?

Many were quick to jump on the Snider hate train after its worst SAC regular-season loss in 34 years in Week 2, the aforementioned 38-14 loss to Carroll. But the Panthers rebounded with a 37-7 demolition of Concordia last Friday. The quarterback position is still in flux with junior Jon Barnes Jr. and sophomore Antoine Taylor splitting time, but it was the play in the trenches on both sides of the ball that was the most concerning in the loss to Carroll. As the line play improves, so will the Panthers’ chances to be an elite team in the second half of the year.

Speaking of the Chargers, one wonders what could have been if the Week 1 game against Bishop Luers was played on a dry field. Then again, the Knights’ playmakers would have had better footing as well. Gaven Vogt has been exceptional at quarterback for Carroll, already throwing for 770 yards and eight touchdowns against a single INT over the first three weeks.

Homestead once again has the offense to compete with anyone around, but the team’s slow starts has led to the team having to come from behind in a close win against Concordia and a last-second loss to Bishop Luers in Week 3. Can the Spartans be ready to play from the opening kick against Dwenger on Friday?

And then there is Luers, which has earned two close wins Carroll and Homestead sandwiched around a Week 2 defeat at Wayne. Will the rigors of the SAC wear down the Knights as the season progresses?

Concordia and Northrop have both shown the ability to play with anyone on the schedule. While the duo of Jake Byrd and Kamari Anderson-Drew garners headlines for the Cadets, Northrop QB-WR tandem of Bailey Meerzo and Davieun Berry may be the best pairing in the SAC.

North Side has improved from a year ago, although the winless record doesn’t show it. As for South Side, the offense has not been able to score much against opponents’ front-line players, which has been problematic.

All told, the SAC is as wide-open as it has been in years. The next six weeks will be fascinating indeed.

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