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The Journal Gazette

Friday, October 05, 2018 1:00 am

Top 15

Couple of teams on cusp of title

Dan Vance | For The Journal Gazette


(All games at 7 p.m. unless indicated)

Concordia at Carroll

Bishop Luers at South Side

North Side at Northrop

Snider at Bishop Dwenger

Homestead at Wayne

Bellmont at DeKalb

East Noble at New Haven

Leo at Columbia City

Norwell at Huntington North

Bluffton at Adams Central

Dayton Marshall (Ohio) at Jay County, 7:30 p.m.

Southern Wells at Heritage

Woodlan at South Adams

Angola at Garrett

Churubusco at West Noble

Eastside at Central Noble

Prairie Heights at Fremont

Wawasee at Elkhart Memorial

Warsaw at NorthWood

Northfield at Whitko

Wrapping up conference titles will be on the minds of team members this week with Bishop Dwenger and East Noble able to clinch a share or all of the SAC and NE8. However, both face opponents thought in the preseason to be their toughest. Have the Saints and Knights built themselves up enough in the first seven weeks to avoid pitfalls in Week 8?

In the ACAC, it is likely that the title will be decided next week. But co-conference leader Adams Central is in for a duel on the ground against Bluffton in Monroe.

1. Bishop Dwenger

The Saints passed their rivalry week test and now get a big-game test opposite Snider. As the top-ranked team in Class 4A, Bishop Dwenger has proven everything that it has needed to thus far. Yet, with the postseason looming, the defense will continue to be forced to make big plays.

2. Wayne

Inspired defensive play has taken shape over the last two weeks. Darius Alexander's fleet-footed play has made the General defense rather imposing heading towards the postseason and Tristan Pernell has also been a big physical force.

3. Snider

After Jon Barnes Jr.'s breakout game, the Panthers can now throw a wrench into the plans of Bishop Dwenger. Barnes Jr. will need to break out even more in order to pick apart the conference's most solid defense. If last week is any indication, he is surely capable.

4. Angola

While Garrett and Eastside don't represent Angola's toughest challenges in the last two weeks, it will be important for the Hornets to stay motivated. A perfect regular season would be nice, but the Hornets desire a postseason crown and cannot let up in the closing weeks.

5. Bishop Luers

Putting a scare into Bishop Dwenger had to have made the Knights happy, but far from content. They are peeking toward the postseason and tonight is a confidence matchup with South Side. Quarterback Norman Knapke (1,794 yards) will look to pass 2,000 passing yards for the season.

6. Homestead

Keeping opposing defenses on its toes has been significantly easier since Braeden Hardwick started running for 130-plus yards in each of the last two games. With Hardwick's run gameand the passing game of Luke Goode and Jake Archbold, opponents must be ready for anything facing the Spartans.

7. Adams Central

Logan Macklin against Bluffton's Everett Johnson is a headline individual matchup tonight, but Adams Central has focused all season on what it does better than their opponents. What the Flying Jets have better is depth, which means behind Macklin there are more guys in line, including Jalen Hammond, to carry the load.

8. East Noble

The Knights look to wrap up the NE8 against New Haven tonight by continuing a multifaceted attack. East Noble's aerial attack has continued to open up after the return of Hayden Jones, who is averaging 41.8 receiving yards in the last four games.

9. Concordia

To see a 2-5 team ranked high in the area tells you all you need to know about the potential of the Cadets. The ability of sophomore Brandon Davis to step up at quarterback in Jake Byrd's absence makes the Cadets more dangerous. Amir Drew is coming off a near 200-yard game and will charge at the Carroll defense tonight.

10. Churubusco

Coach Paul Sade's undefeated Eagles proved a lot about their defense in a big win over Central Noble. Tanner Allen, Sam Wood and Parker Curry will all be out to continue that defensive momentum after each picking up eight tackles in that win over the Cougars.

11. Carroll

Coach Doug Dinan has only known one 5-loss season at Carroll, that being his first. He will continue to be vigilant in making sure that does not happen again. With teams equally vigilant on stopping the Charger pass offense, there could be a breakout performance coming from leading rusher Rhett Saylor.

12. Northrop

With or without Bailey Meerzo, the Bruins are a tough stop. They have the athletes to make big plays, headed by leading rusher Jeremiah Green, who sits at 677 yards on the season, and they are hungry to end their losing skid.

13. Leo

The Lions are one of the area's biggest enigmas. A.J. Restivo is a threat in the air or on the ground, but, either way, Leo often goes as its senior quarterback does.

14. Columbia City

The Eagles have not lost back to back games all season and are coming off their worst loss of the year, though just 14 points.

15. South Adams

The Starfires are lost in the ACAC race, but still have the potential to make waves in a tough sectional. The first step in bouncing back from two straight losses is a matchup with a Woodlan team that would be 16th on this list if it went to 16.