Alright, time to get real.
Sectionals are behind us, meaning every potential foe from here on out is deserving to be considered a state title contender.
Which area teams have a chance to survive at least one more week? Which are facing uphill battles heading into Friday?
Outside the Huddle has you covered this week, breaking down each local regional matchup.
First up, Class 6A.
1. WE GOT HISTORY HERE
Way back in 1998, Homestead pummeled Carmel 27-3 behind the stellar quarterback play of Kelly Disser. In the three meetings since between the two teams, the Spartans have managed just a pair of touchdowns in three losses.
The last time these squads got together, the Greyhounds laid a 42-7 whooping on Homestead back in 2016, the last time the Spartans won a sectional title.
Will history repeat itself?
2. THE BATTLE UP FRONT
All due respect to the defensive fronts in the SAC, Homestead’s solid offensive line has not faced a D-line even closer to the caliber of Carmel.
The Greyhounds have compiled 61(!) tackles for loss and 25 sacks, a lot of which has come from the defensive front seven. Offensive line studs like juniors Owen Hire and Brady Parker and senior Robert McCrory will need to be on their game.
3. ARCHBOLD ENCORE?
After making USA Today’s high school page due to his performance last Friday, what does Jake Archbold do to follow up his four-touchdown, four-interception night against Carroll?
Do not be surprised to see Archbold in a more conventional role. While the Wildcat was utilized last week with Archbold behind center, will Homestead elect to do the same thing on Friday? Or is the cat out of the bag? Might the Spartans “win” by having just presented more for Carmel to have to be ready for come Friday? We shall see.
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
DL COLE BREVARD, SENIOR, CARMEL
The 6-foot-3, 300-pound behemoth can play right over the center at nose or off the ball at a normal defensive tackle spot. The Penn State commitment is rated a four-star prospect by 247Sports and has amassed 36 tackles and a sack this season.
Brevard isn’t as much a stat machine as he is a guy who clogs up the middle and filters plays to the outside, where they are cleaned up by Carmel’s superb linebackers.
QB LUKE GOODE, JUNIOR, HOMESTEAD
The basketball standout has thrown for over 2,600 yards and 26 touchdowns this season, showcasing the fact that he is far from a one-sport star.
Goode threw just his second interception of the season last week against Carroll, but made up for it with 211 yards passing and a TD.
Carmel’s defense will not leave much in the way of wide-open receivers, so Goode will have to be precise and accurate on his throws. One thing that the SAC lacked this year was exceptional secondaries. That is what Goode will face with the Greyhounds.
RB DYLAN DOWNING, SENIOR, CARMEL
While the quarterback position has seen turnover throughout this year, with three players throwing 20 or more passes, Dylan Downing has been the leading rusher for Carmel most of the season.
Downing began the season with 100-yard rushing efforts in three of the team’s first four games. However, he has been bottled up of late, combining to rush for just 80 yards in the last two games, including just 15 yards last week against Westfield.
Downing is also a threat out of the backfield in the passing game, which Homestead will put a focus on limiting come Friday.
WR/DB JAKE ARCHBOLD, SENIOR, HOMESTEAD
Carmel quarterbacks have struggled with turning the ball over, having thrown 10 interceptions on the year.
That’s where Archbold comes in. The senior doubled his interception total last year for the year and now has eight picks overall to go with 40 tackles. A big turnover or two from the Homestead secondary will help immeasurably.
Archbold’s positioning in the backfield also gives an added look to the run game, and Archbold is of course perfectly capable of throwing the ball out of the Wildcat after splitting time at QB last year.
And of course, do not dismiss the senior in the passing game, where he leads the Spartans in receptions (37) and touchdowns (12).
KEYS TO VICTORY – CARMEL
1. DISRUPT HOMESTEAD’S TIMING
A lot of what the Spartans do in the passing game is predicated by timing. Goode and his receivers are consistently on the same page on where guys are supposed to be in their routes at precisely the right time.
Carmel may try to disrupt that timing by playing close to the line of scrimmage and being more physical with Homestead off the line. While most teams play off Homestead’s receivers in an attempt to avoid getting hit deep, the Greyhounds may have the confidence of shutting down the Spartans close to the line of scrimmage.
2. RIDE THE WAVE
Carmel will be bringing plenty of talent to Homestead on Friday, including Indiana commit Ty Wise (86 tackles, 13 TFL, four sacks) at outside linebacker and tackling machine Dominic Padjen (106 tackles, 19 TFL) at middle ‘backer.
The Greyhounds will not be intimidated in the slightest taking the field against the Spartans. They have played the best of the best in the state and went to Louisville Trinity in Kentucky in Week 1. This team has the talent and the experience to ride to a victory on Friday, it just needs to play to its potential.
KEYS TO VICTORY – HOMESTEAD
1. WIN THE TURNOVER BATTLE BY A SIGNIFICANT MARGIN
Homestead will be the underdog on Friday, no matter what the records of the two teams is. In order to even the playing field, the Spartans’ defense needs to get some turnovers, leading to additional scoring chances.
For the year, the Spartans are a plus-15 in the turnover department, having picked off 13 passes and recovered seven fumbles. They must add to that advantage against the Greyhounds.
2. LET GOODE LOOSE
Luke Goode has eclipsed the 250-yard mark in passing yards six times this season, most recently a 267-yard effort at Noblesville two weeks ago. His best performance of the year thus far was a 366-yard, four-touchdown effort in a win over Snider in Week 5.
Goode needs that kind of night. It is tough to envision the Spartans beating Carmel up front enough to really establish a significant running attack. There may be a good gain on the ground here or there, but Goode will need to win this one by making plays vertically to his talented wide receiver corps.