The regular season has concluded and its time to look ahead to the next six weeks as we look to crown six state champions.

Will any local teams be among those six? It is tough to say. You could make a case in at least three different classes that we have teams capable of making it to Lucas Oil Stadium.

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But before we delve into playoff predictions, Blitz decided to release his final power poll of the season. Keep in mind that this is not necessarily a ranking of the teams most likely to advance deep into the playoffs, but rather how they stack up against other squads in the area.

1. SNIDER

WHY #1?

After leaving the top spot vacant last week, Blitz decided to move the Panthers up after a convincing victory over Bishop Luers in the regular season finale.

We have been so quick to criticize the Snider offense all season long, but the Panthers were held under 20 points just twice in the regular season. An opportunistic defense and quick-strike special teams contributed to that, but this isn’t as inept of an offense as many like to think.

While Snider occupies No. 1 in this poll, the Panthers aren’t in the top five in Blitz’s mind in terms of teams most likely to make a state run. Carmel looms in regional. Penn in semistate. Is this team capable of beating those teams? Maybe, maybe not.

One thing is for sure, this 7-2 Snider team isn’t as mediocre as some like to claim.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

No. 1 reigns supreme

2. BISHOP DWENGER

WHY #2?

In a year in which seven SAC programs averaged 27 points or more, the performance by the Dwenger defense stands out even more.

The Saints allowed a league-low 12.4 points a game, holding all but Snider (21) and South Side (20) in the teens or less in points.

Friday’s 40-13 win over Northrop last week was the latest impressive performance from the defensive unit. The Bruins had not been held under 21 points prior to that game, but Dwenger showed out once again.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

The Saints are who they are. They are not going to beat good teams by outscoring them. They will go as far as the defense takes them.

3. HOMESTEAD

WHY #3?

Following a 2-3 start, the Spartans concluded the regular season with four straight wins, including triumphs over Carroll and Wayne.

The question going forward is if Homestead has what it takes to give Snider a game, but for now let’s look at the body of work. The offense has run well with two quarterbacks and the running game has found consistent traction with sophomore Braeden Hardwick (645 yards, 6 TDs).

But this team’s greatest asset right now may be a defense that has allowed just 37 points in the last four games, the best four-game stretch since Homestead joined the SAC in 2015.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

With losses to both Snider and Dwenger, it is tough to put Homestead above those programs even with the improved play.

4. WAYNE

WHY #4?

Largely lost in the SAC title conversation of the last few weeks is the fact that Wayne, a program that talked itself up throughout the offseason, actually delivered on the hype.

The Generals lost just two games in the regular season, just the second time in the last 22 years the program has had two or fewer losses entering the playoffs. Coach Derrick Moore’s team slayed a giant in Snider, the benchmark for success in the SAC.

A narrow win over Carroll was probably closer than it should have been, but Wayne is still entering the playoffs with plenty of positivity and an eye on a rematch with Dwenger.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

A concern could be the offense. Despite much being made about Dwenger’s offense, Wayne has scored 35 less points this year than the Saints. The Generals are eighth in the SAC in scoring.

5. ANGOLA

WHY #5?

The Hornets capped their second-consecutive undefeated regular season with a rout of Eastside last Friday, the latest of many lopsided contests that Angola has had this year.

As good as last year’s team is, the Hornets may be better in 2018, at least on one side of the ball. The defense has allowed a touch under seven points a game, a full 10 points better than a year ago.

How does it translate in a tough 4A sectional field? Time will tell.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

Impossible to gauge Angola against the best in the SAC due to the lack of head-to-head matchups or even common opponents. Blitz is basing a lot on last year’s regional game that saw Bishop Dwenger pick apart Angola in every facet of the game.

6. BISHOP LUERS

WHY #6?

The up and down second half of the season for the Knights concluded with a loss to Snider in Week 9.

This team feels like one that could run roughshod over 3A defenses through most of the playoffs. It was held in check by Dwenger and Snider, but otherwise has put up big numbers against every opponent. And lucky for Luers, both the Saints and Panthers are not in 3A.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

This is not an elite Luers team. Then again, is any local squad elite this year?

While the defense appears to be playing better of late, it is far from a dominant unit.

7. EAST NOBLE

WHY #7?

We have talked up the NE8 all season long on how competitive it has been, yet we gloss over the fact that the Knights went through it undefeated.

The running game has been nothing short of spectacular. Kaiden Harshberger gets the accolades, and for good reason with over 1,000 yards rushing, but quarterback Bailey Parker (780 rushing yards, eight TDs) and sophomore Jacob VanGorder (304 yards, 2 TDs) have been solid as well on the ground.

Why does it feel like 8-1 East Noble is an also-ran when being compared to undefeated teams NorthWood and Angola in Sectional 19? It’s a big mistake.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

Lack of SAC competition is a big reason why the Knights aren’t higher. Maybe we should give more respect to a team whose two non-conference foes (Plymouth and Warsaw) finished the regular season a combined 13-5.

8. CONCORDIA

WHY #8?

After two hard-fought wins to conclude the schedule, the Cadets feel like a team on the rise as the playoffs begin. Jake Byrd is back at quarterback and the brothers Drew continue to perform, with Amir running the ball and Kamari catching everything thrown near him.

3A Sectional 28 is going to be interesting.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

Five losses in the regular season. But consider that three of those losses came by seven points or less. This was a competitive team in the SAC, which in 3A makes for a very dangerous team.

9. ADAMS CENTRAL

WHY #9?

Did anyone outside of Monroe see the 31-3 demolition of Woodlan last Friday coming?

It was not a shock that the Flying Jets won. But the lopsidedness of the game further showed that no one at the 1A level (and probably 2A) in the area can match up with AC.

Coach Michael Mosser will do his best to keep his team focused on going one week at a time in the playoffs. Blitz can afford to look ahead and circle that semistate showdown with Pioneer.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

As dominant as AC has been, the higher-class programs above them in this poll are there for good reason.

10. LEO

WHY #10?

Who would have thought the Lions would crack Blitz’s top 10 after starting the season 2-3?

But let’s go over the body of work for a second. A shutout at the hands of Angola is nothing to sneeze at, and close defeats to New Haven and East Noble are far from bad losses. The Lions have since won four straight and looked pretty darn good in doing so.

Unfortunately, Sectional 20 is pretty unfriendly. A visit to Jay County this week isn’t a sure win and a collision with Dwenger looms with a W.

WHY NOT HIGHER?

Tough to make a case that Leo should be higher than No. 10. If you have a case, Blitz is all ears.

NEXT FIVE

11. Northrop

12.  New Haven

13. Carroll

14. Columbia City

15. Churubusco

 

2 Comments »

  1. Lack of SAC competition is a big reason why the Knights aren’t higher.

    I would argue that the lack of NE8 competition would paint the SAC teams as overrated.

    Northwood only beat Warsaw by one point. I bet they didn’t play them without two offensive starters including their leading rusher and their leading receiver. Players who also make major contributions on defense.

    Like

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