Coach’s Corner is a weekly feature at Outside the Huddle written by Kevin Merz, former Bishop Dwenger quarterback and North Side offensive coordinator.
Can you feel it?
Now that sectional play has come and gone, a shift in focus begins for the remaining programs in our area. No longer will you be familiar with your foe, and Lucas Oil Stadium seems so close you can reach out and touch it. Two victories stand between them and playing football on Thanksgiving weekend.
In this week’s “Coach’s Corner”, a quick look at where the biggest test lies for each area team in route to a state title game appearance.
At 9-2, the Tigers are rolling under legendary coach Bart Curtis. The type of football Coach Curtis plays (Bart Ball) is unlike anything seen elsewhere in the state, a style of triple option that can wear down an opponent of any size.
Warsaw predicates its entire scheme on being able to win the battle at the line of scrimmage, and while I think that can be done against Merrillville, I don’t see the Tigers pushing around anyone from Carmel in that potential matchup.
The Spartans get their toughest test of the season this week as they host the Greyhounds from Carmel. Physical line play, attention to detail and near-perfect execution usually sums up the Carmel teams that roll into Fort Wayne historically for the regional or semistate rounds.
The three losses on the Greyhounds resume may trick some from Fort Wayne but I assure you, things are just different down there. That being said, if Homestead can find a way to pull the upset, I think it would be a sizable favorite against Merrillville or Warsaw. This week is an open-book test for Homestead. We have all seen who Carmel is and what they do, so before the biggest test of the season I know Homestead will be prepared.
Bishop Dwenger is playing for an state-record 22nd regional championship this week, so stop me if you’ve heard this before, but they are going to get it.
While Lafayette Harrison can’t be overlooked for obvious reasons (a sectional champion in its own right, a long bus trip, a 9-2 record, etc..) the Saints know their biggest test awaits a week from Friday. In an unfortunate series of events for Bishop Dwenger, it and Valparaiso will both have played the same number of road games heading into the semistate round. The Saints will get the short end of the stick once again and have to travel up into the “region”region to take on Valpo.
Bishop Dwenger preaches the one-game-at-a-time mentality better than anyone in the area, so while it will be prepared for its quiz Friday, the Saints have two weeks to prepare for the test!
Coach Luke Amstutz has the Knights in its first regional since 2003 with the team undefeated and confident!
East Noble knows its toughest test comes this Friday from the fact that it must travel to Mississinewa to claim a regional crown. I remember a few years ago the Indians being quite vocal on social media expressing their displeasure for Bishop Dwenger during the week and how they play “real football” down there. A 56-2 beatdown by Dwenger ended those comments pretty quickly.
But I digress.
East Noble may have the clearest path of any area contender remaining. If it can take care of business Friday (which I believe it should) then the Knights will find themselves at home next Friday with a very winnable game in front of a rabid fan base.
Imagine spending a month preparing to take a test on chemistry and then sitting down and having to pass the Bar Exam.
That is kind of what we’re dealing with this Friday for Concordia. I’d like to choose to remember a sectional championship, a season in which they have won five of its last six games and a program building each season rather than what is coming Friday.
Just being honest here, Friday is not going to be pretty and that is through no fault of the Cadets. Indianapolis Bishop Chatard is one of the premier teams in the state this season regardless of class and will end the season of the Cadets by halftime.
The Sagarin Ratings say 52-7 in favor of Chatard. I say hats off to Concordia for another impressive season in reaching the regional round and continuing to evolve as a program each year!
The Blazers head to Eastbrook this week in a meeting of 10-2 squads.
Blitz will be able to give you a better perspective on if Eastside can pull off a victory there, but I see Western Boone lurking in the semistate round for the winner of this game, and NO ONE wants to play them I assure you!
SOUTH ADAMS and ADAMS CENTRAL
I lump them both together for this reason, the winner of this game will play at Lucas Oil Stadium, period. The biggest test for both the Starfires and Flying Jets comes against each other on Friday and I think this one could be closer than the first time around (a 42-14 South Adams win).
While I like South Adams to represent the area in the state finals, I don’t expect a 28-point win on Friday as playoff Adams Central seems to be a different beast at times than regular season Adams Central!
PREDICTED REGIONAL CHAMPIONS
Coach’s Corner appears every Monday during the prep football season at Outside the Huddle. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers.