After 3 weeks, one thing is absolutely clear to fans who keep up with high school football in Indiana. There is no clear cut favorite in Class 5A. Now mind you, it is a short list, but no team has proven it has the edge. So two heavyweights are going to go at it in the last game (8:15 pm) on Saturday evening at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Last weekend, over 10 future D1 players went at it at Lucas Oil in the inaugural "Horseshoe Classic" sponsored by the Colts. For the fourth week in a row, some great teams and future college players are going to take to the field turf and play all day at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Warren Central vs. Ben Davis
8:15 p.m. Saturday Lucas Oil Stadium
Over the course of the last 15 seasons, Ben Davis and Warren Central have met 22 times. The teams have a tendency to see one another in the playoffs. Last season in their last meeting in the regional final, Ben Davis stunned Warren Central 45 to 23. That game, no doubt, weighs heavily on the minds of the Warriors as they enter this contest. Ben Davis is 2-1 coming into this contest with a loss to northern Indiana power, the Penn Kingsmen. Warren Central was stunned by the Cathedral Irish 35 to 32 for an identical record of 2-1.
Each team brings an assortment of players listed by Scout with big time college potential. Some have made verbal commitments and others are close or will make commitments after the season. The offensive prowess of Warren Central has always been legendary. This year the running game is bolstered by Shakir Bell, Warren's little big man. At 5' 8" (with his cleats on) 180 lbs., he plays like he is 6' 0" 200 lbs. of greased lightning. In his first 3 games, he has already run for 642 yards.
Behind Michael Gegner, 6' 3" 251 lb. center, Jamoni Gentry, 6' 3" 356 lbs., and Kairo Holts, 6' 5" 275 lbs., can create some big alleys for Bell to ring some yards, and he has put up some big early numbers.
Derek Hart, 6' 4" 200 lb. quarterback, has created some balance with the ability to keep teams honest and not put 9 in the box to stop Bell. The Warriors are "The Irresistible Force."
Okay, I will say it flat out, Ben Davis has the best defense I have seen in Indiana this year. But they may also be the most undisciplined team I have seen, at least at the Penn game. Penalties and turnovers cost them being 3-0 going into this Friday's game. Don't get me wrong, I am not dissing Ben Davis, but every time I have seen them in person, they have more yards in penalties than on offense. I haven't seen Head Coach Mike Kirschner without a hat lately, but he may be bald for having pulled all his hair out!
But the defense is solid and they should be. They are big up front, they can move and they control the line of scrimmage. Dorian Bryant, 5' 11" 275lb., and Willie Hunter, 6'0" 300 lb., bring strength and speed up front that makes them hard to move and block. But the strength of their defense lies in the secondary. They can cover and they can run to the ball and make the hit. They have 3 players who have verbally committed to play football at BCS colleges. Jeff Garrett, 5' 9", 165lb., Keith Suggs, 5'9" 178lb. are both future adversaries in the MAC conference. Garrett is going to Northern Illinois and Suggs to Toledo. Isaiah Lewis, the biggest of the "Might Mites" at 5'11" 186 lbs., is going to Michigan State in 2010. All three of these players like to patrol the secondary, but will fly up to hit when they get the right read.
Ben Davis has a running back that has committed to Ball State in Philip Dudley 5'10" 185lbs., and running mate, Donte Asher 5'8" 177lbs. Both are capable of making the big run from anywhere on the field.
This is For Pride - Then the Playoffs
In Indiana, some will argue there is a 9 game pre-season, since every team makes it to the playoffs. But the MIC conference football championship isn't exactly chopped liver. The best football conference in Indiana has a national significance. Most of the teams could hang with any high school team in the nation. But, on this coming Saturday night, Warren will face the "Evil Empire" (as they refer to Ben Davis) and Ben Davis sees Warren as typical "Eastsiders." I think one of these two teams is going to be state finalists in class 5A, but honestly I don't know which one. It will be settled on the field and this is why I love this game.