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Anderson at Wayne, 7 p.m.
Bishop Dwenger at South Side, 7 p.m.
East Noble at Northrop, 7 p.m.
North Side at Concordia, 7 p.m.
Snider at Bishop Luers, 7 p.m.
Bellmont at Woodlan, 7 p.m.
Columbia City at Warsaw, 7 p.m.
Goshen at Carroll, 7 p.m.
Homestead at Huntington North, 8 p.m.
Heritage at New Haven, 7 p.m.
Leo at Norwell, 7 p.m.
Mishawaka Marian at DeKalb, 7 p.m.
Adams Central at Blackford, 7 p.m.
Bluffton at Northfield, 7 p.m.
Garrett at Eastside, 7:30 p.m.
Winchester at South Adams, 7 p.m.
Angola at West Noble, 7 p.m.
Churubusco at Fremont, 7 p.m.
Fairfield at Central Noble, 7 p.m.
Tippecanoe Valley at Culver Academy, 7:30 p.m.
Southern Wells at Southwood, 7 p.m.
Whitko at Wawasee, 7:30 p.m.

Football returns with new storylines

The excitement for a new football season doesn’t stop with the players and coaches. Even the people calling the action on the radio are looking forward to what could be an interesting season, which begins tonight, despite the absence of some notable players.

While most years have sure-fire conclusions and expectations, 2013 is shaping up to be one of the most balanced, unpredictable campaigns in recent memory. Two teams that did achieve a fair amount of success last year – Class 2A state champion Bishop Luers and 5A state runner-up Snider – took a hit graduation-wise. The Knights might have taken the biggest loss across northeast Indiana when 2012 Mr. Football Jaylon Smith graduated and went to Notre Dame.

In his place is … well, a lot of players.

But there is plenty of talent and potential among area players and teams. It just won’t be one player or team that will make the headlines weekly..

Change also brought a new state tournament format from the IHSAA, which added a sixth class and also moved some teams up and down, with a lot of the upward movement caused by the new success formula.

The success factor bumps a school up a class if it accrues six points in two years because of postseason success.

The new 6A teams in northeast Indiana are Carroll, Homestead, Northrop and Warsaw. Even conference changes are beginning to take shape with teams jumping conferences, as well as new conferences in a couple of seasons. It could grow the amount of independent teams as well.

Huntington North, which is currently in the North Central Conference, and Leo, of the ACAC will join Bellmont, Columbia City, DeKalb, East Noble, New Haven and Norwell in a new conference. Garrett is going back to the NECC from the ACAC, which will bring in Jay County.

“If I could title this season before it starts I would call it a season of change,” Warsaw’s 1480 AM announcer Roger Grossman said. “A new class in 6A, new sectional assignments and upcoming changes in conferences throughout the area means, for some, this will be the last time some longtime rivals will lock horns. Get a good look at the way high school football is now, because will look much different starting in 2014.”

The radio coverage itself is changing this year with the addition of a pre- and post-game show on The Fan’s two stations – WKJG 1380 AM and WFGA 106.7 FM – in an attempt to give area football fans even more. The two stations will each have game coverage, putting five hours of high school football on the air every Friday.

“This may be the most comprehensive radio coverage for high school football the Fort Wayne area has ever had,” play-by-play announcer Brett Rump said. “From the time fans leave for the game until they get home, they can get everything from previews to scores and highlights all in one place.”

Games will also air each week on 1250 AM, as well as on other stations around northeast Indiana.

“People always look for the best game on paper, sometimes that turns out not being the one that you might expect,” play-by-play broadcaster Joe Parsons said about the upcoming season.

And don’t think the early games aren’t just as important as ones later in the season. Two SAC games tonight – Snider at Bishop Luers and Bishop Dwenger at South Side – will go a long way in determining the conference champion and whether anybody will be able to wrestle the Victory Bell away from Snider.

“We are still hurting from that one, our only loss in the city (on the field) that we had last year,” Luers senior quarterback Quinn Cook said of a 10-7 Snider win in 2012. “We want to come back and get it, and it is Week 1 of fighting for the Bell.”

Greg Jones is the High school sports editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in the Fort Wayne area since 1998. He can be reached by email; phone, 461-8224; or fax 461-8648.