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Three & Out – GLAC, Independents, Northwestern

In the final installment of “Three & Out” the RSN takes a look at the GLAC, along with EC Central and some “Quick Snaps” of the Northwestern Conference and other Independent teams.


Clark


1st Down:
After five years of guiding the Pioneers, Dave Verta is no longer the head coach at Clark as he takes over as the school’s athletic director. Verta had the highest winning percentage of any coach in school history and the third most wins. With Tim Gault taking over the program, will we see a continuation of what Coach Verta built or will it be starting from scratch for Clark?

2nd Down: Not only are the Pioneers going to have to adjust to playing under a new coach, but they are also facing a post-season change as they move up to Class 4A. In previous season in Class 3A, Clark was usually the second best team in the sectional behind Andrean, but now they’ll be competing with cross-town rival Morton, Hobart and Griffith for a sectional title, making the post-season trail even tougher.

3rd Down: Gault better have his new team ready in a hurry because of the second straight season, the “Battle of 119th Street” rivalry game against Whiting will take place in the first week of the season. Clark didn’t look very good in last year’s 23-0 drubbing at the hands of the Oilers, but nothing will endear Gault to the Pioneer faithful more than beating the arch-rivals in his first game as coach.

Gavit


1st Down:
Even though they finished with a 3-8 mark, the Gavit Gladiators may have overachieved in 2011. With a significant amount of freshman and sophomores receiving playing time and with little to no depth to speak of, the trio of victories ties Gavit’s high win mark since the 2004 season.

2nd Down: Just like the Pioneers, Gavit is going to be under the direction of a new coach as Robert Robinson takes over the program. Robinson, who already has earned a fair share of success at a Hammond school (22-11 in three years at Hammond High), was on the Gladiator staff last season, so there shouldn’t be too big of an adjustment.

3rd Down: This Gavit program hasn’t had a winning season since 2003, and don’t be surprised if that below .500 trend continues in 2011. There are winnable games on their schedule (Calumet, SB Riley, Roosevelt, Delphi, Hammond High), and maybe that experience that the youngsters earned last year will pay off, but we’ll believe that Gavit is on the rise once they start racking up those “W’s”.

Hammond High


1st Down:
Another Hammond school, another new coach. For the Wildcats, it’ll be former Bishop Noll head coach Eric Schreiber taking over in a surprise departure after one year of leading Michigan City. Along with Schreiber come his Griffith roots, meaning that triple option ball is coming to Hammond High. Will it work in just one off-season? Just by looking at his one year at Michigan City the answer is: probably not. This could be a rebuilding situation that takes time to come to fruition.

2nd Down: Following three straight winning seasons (all under Robert Robinson), Hammond High fell on hard times last year in Dedrick Dewalt’s lone campaign as coach with a 3-8 record, with the only wins coming against Bowman, Roosevelt & Lew Wallace. This is a Wildcat team we saw compete with some schools outside of Gary, none the less in their own city. The new coaching staff has to hope last year was just an aberration and that the ‘Cats still have enough talent to be in that 5-8 win range season when its all said and done.

3rd Down: Not to keep harping on the point, but the success of Hammond High is going to heavily rely on how quickly the team picks up Schreiber’s option based attack. If the team finds a nice mixture of athleticism on the outside by spreading teams out and then running the option along with the occasional inside power running with the fullback, this offense might be able to put up some points. If they are counting on going double tight-end and primarily running within the tackles, they could be in trouble.

Morton


1st Down:
Yay for stability! Morton is the only Hammond public school with their head coach returning as Roy Richards comes back for his 13th year leading the Governors. Clearly the best program in the city, Richards’ teams have captured three straight conference titles, but more importantly, two consecutive sectional championships. Advancing to Regionals in 2009 and Semi-State in 2010, can the Govs keep moving forward this year and head to Indy?

2nd Down: While I’d never count a Roy Richards team out, the Govs have a lot of talented players to replace. DJ Griffin, Jerry Watson, Andrew Glidewell, Kayln Aaron, Jaborie Rucks, Esker Peoples & Darius Taylor were all impact players (some more than others) for Morton last year and leave big shoes to fill. I’m sure the Morton faithful on the message board are going to tell me all about the new guys coming in and how great they are going to be, but until we see them perform at the same levels of the guys above on Friday nights, it’ll still be a question mark.

3rd Down: The graduation losses aren’t the only Indy roadblock for Morton. The playoff road got tougher with realignment. Morton is clearly the favorite in the sectional (this is where Griffith fans get mad), but a potential matchup against Mishawaka or Lowell looms in the Regional and following that a (very probable) rematch against FW Dwenger in the semi-state (yes, I know Dwenger lost a lot of key players, but they are a private 4A school in Fort Wayne. They get talent). If it seems like I’m bashing Morton…I’m not. In fact, I have high expectations for Morton this year – graduation losses or not, but advancing further in the post-season than they have in the past two years is going to be difficult.

Independent


EC Central

1st Down: Settling some of the coaching turmoil that has plagued EC Central in recent years, former Valparaiso University head man Stacy Adams lead the Cardinals to a .500 season (their first since 2007) in his first year on the job. EC won three out of their final four before being handily defeated by Valpo in the first round of the post-season, but that’s something they don’t have to worry about anymore…

2nd Down: Because of realignment, EC finds themselves out of Class 5A and in to 4A. In fact the Cardinals are the largest 4A school in the state of Indiana. Maybe this will give EC and advantage and maybe not, but this is a school that hasn’t won a post-season game since 2000, so any sign of playoff optimism is welcomed.

3rd Down: While EC may not be a favorite to make playoff noise, they could come out of the regular season with an impressive mark. There are only a couple of games on the EC schedule that you could say are “unwinnable”, but in the remaining seven, a Cardinal victory couldn’t be considered an upset by any means. Dropping Andrean and picking up Roosevelt and also adding Boone Grove in place of Central Noble helps the schedule. Who knows? Maybe EC can ride the wave of regular season momentum in to the post-season.

QUICK SNAPS

Boone Grove: Welcome to the big time Boone Grove! The Wolves play their first full varsity schedule this season after games against LaPorte LaLumiere and South Newton were played in conjunction with a JV schedule in 2010. First up to welcome the Wolves? Wheeler. Ouch.

Bowman: The Eagles have a new coach in 2011 with Rob Gross taking over for Andre Kelly. Luckily Gross still has Dylon Collins on the roster. The big play back will rack up the yards as he leads Bowman’s offense, but will it result in wins?

Lew Wallace: The Hornets haven’t won multiple games since 2005 and haven’t had a winning season since 1995. To say Lew Wallace has fallen on tough times might be an understatement. Plus, we’re only a few weeks away from the start of the season, and Wallace also still has two holes in their schedule. This team has a long way to go to.

Roosevelt: A combined two wins over the past three seasons has the Panthers in dire straights. With Lew Wallace, Gary Lighthouse and Boone Grove all on the schedule, maybe Roosevelt breaks out of their slump a little bit. Maybe.

West Side: West Side welcomes in their third coach in the program’s history as Jason Johnson takes over for Alex Pratt who was a victim of education budget cuts that are running rampant throughout the state. Pratt brought optimism at West Side as the team went 11-10 with a sectional championship appearance during his tenure. Johnson, a former Cougar himself, has a chance to continue what Pratt started as West Side looks to take control as Gary’s dominant gridiron team. Early reports say numbers are good for summer practice.

Questions or comments about “Three & Out”, e-mail Nathan Laird at nathan.laird@regionsports.com or message board users can use the “Private Message” function to “ballstatenate”

Stay logged on to Regionsports.com in the upcoming weeks before the season as we release our team previews!

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