The diehards out there will get their fill of football this week on TV. Three NFL games on Turkey Thursday and some key college games on Friday and Saturday. And then on Sunday you get the cherry on top with the Bears and Patriots.
But something’s missing this weekend and I’m sure most of you know what I’m talking about. If you’re a diehard high school football fan you’re interesting in all five state championship games regardless of who’s playing, and some of you might even head south on I-65 to take in some of the pigskin showdowns at the RCA Dome. But no Region teams representing! It doesn’t happen very often (actually the first time in three years), but it wasn’t for a lack of trying.
Griffith, the team that advanced the farthest in the Region (throw in LaPorte if you’re talking about our corner of the world), ran into a talented Norwell team in Saturday’s 3A Semistate. I’ve seen the debates all over the regionsports message board. I listened to the entire game and have talked with numerous people who were there. Sounds like Norwell was the better team (and I’ll give them that), but I have to wonder what the second half would have been like if the game was tied 7-7 like it should have been.
Everybody and their brother (well, everybody except that blind official) said David Alexander never touched that punt. What if Griffith scored on that final drive before the half instead of Norwell? What if the Panthers didn’t onsides kick (since they wouldn’t have had to) to start the third quarter? We can all play Monday morning quarterback and throw our opinions in the ring, but I can’t help but wonder if that Griffith defense plays as inspired as it did in the first half if the game is still tight. Momentum is everything in football and when you’re down 20-7 it takes a lot out of you, especially 16, 17 and 18-year-old kids. As bad as Norwell was drilling teams during the season, I would have loved to see the game knocked at 7-7 at half and wonder what would have been going through the Knights’ heads in the locker room.
Hat’s off to the Panthers, the entire coaching staff and the community. It hurts now, but nobody can take away the fact you went to back-to-back semistates. That’s the Final Four two years in a row and that’s pretty impressive (and special). Every Griffith game I covered this season (six to be exact) I couldn’t help but see a packed house at every one of them. Griffith fans love their football and they’re passionate about their team. A great senior class departs, but the word is there’s plenty of talent coming up in the lower ranks. Looks like the Panthers will be back again next season, the following season, and seasons to come.
I said five weeks ago I didn’t see any Region teams playing on the carpet and I guess I was right (not that I wanted to be). That being said, this was my state championship picks before the tournament started: Warren Central (5A), Concord (4A), Indianapolis Chatard (3A), Jimtown (2A) and Sheridan (A). Since Jimtown lost last week in the semistate, I have a chance in four of the five.
Warren Central is shooting for a state-record fourth consecutive state title in Class 5A. If it’s any consolation to the Carmel Greyhounds they only lost 28-0 during the regular season! Considering Warren Central beat teams by over 40 points a game, Carmel has to feel good about something, right?
Personally, I think the 4A game is going to be a classic. You have Concord and Indianapolis Cathedral butting heads. Concord’s aerial show would be worth the price of admission to see on the turf and we all know Cathedral’s history. On paper, it looks like a classic matchup.
In 3A, I’m not changing my pick. Norwell’s schedule doesn’t hold a candle to Chatard’s and the Trojans play at the Dome almost as much as the Colts. Norwell is really good, but I still think Chatard is even better.
In A, you have to love Sheridan and what this program continues to do. Larry Wright is into his 41st season at the school (I’m not kidding) and is shooting for his eighth Class A state title. Bears punter Brad Maynard played at Sheridan and I’ll take the defending champion Blackhawks over Indianapolis Ritter just because of that.
In 2A, this is one game I’m not too sure about. My head tells me Harding (or Fort Wayne Harding), but my heart says Southridge since I worked for a newspaper down there back in the day. I think after what Harding did to Jimtown at Jimtown last week (28-0) I’m going with the speed of Harding and the fact the Hawks are coached by former Whiting head coach Sherwood Haydock.
Sad to say, but that’s as close to a Region connection as we’re going to get this week. Harding has to come through, right?