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  • 9/17/2019 

    Here are some things we know and don’t know about the 2019 Indiana high school football season after the first four weeks:

    Will the current Noblesville football team post a win this season?

    The crystal ball is still a bit foggy, says my friend the Football Wizard who has watched a lot of Noblesville football over the years.

    Right now, all that seems certain is that you don’t win if you can’t score points.

    And the Millers haven’t scored many points. Not so far, anyway. They’ve scored 14 points twice; 7 in another; and have been shut out in yet another.

    They are averaging 8.8 points per game . . . and their defensive average is 35.3 points. In addition, Noblesville has rushed for only 292 yards, passed for 124 and produced 130 reception yards. 

    In all fairness to coach Justin Roden and his staff, Noblesville lost a nucleus of good players from the 4-6 team in 2018, and the 2019 team is young and inexperienced in several spots.

    And keep in mind that the Millers started the season 0-4 against a murderous schedule, featuring Cathedral, Carmel, Fishers and Westfield, all ranked teams.

     Regardless, due to Hamilton Heights’ rousing, 36-0 victory over Northwestern last week, Noblesville now finds itself as the lone winless football team in Hamilton County. 

    Can Noblesville turn the tables on Zionsville (2-2) this week? That’s Homecoming for the Millers. Certainly all of the hoopla surrounding that could, and likely should, help the cause.

    Can the Millers defeat Franklin Central or Hamilton SE in road games? Possibly, but keep in mind that those teams have shown much improvement so far this season, and they’re certainly much better, more competitive than they were in 2018. Senior QB Andrew Hobson passed for 259 yards against Fishers.

    What about Brownsburg on the Millers turf on Oct. 11 and then the regular-season finale on Oct. 18 against Avon?

    Those last two are likely much taller orders.

    Noblesville must win its final five games to go 5-4 and secure a rare regular-season winning record. A lot of good things must happen for that to happen. And posting the school’s first winning season since 2001 obviously remains a long shot.

    So back to the crystal ball: All the Football Wizard can see is a shadow of someone scratching his head in all of that fog.

  • 9/12/2019 

    I know that class basketball has gone over well for some schools.

    Especially the small high schools, the ones that can’t compete with the big schools on a regular basis.

    But when schools like Muncie Central and Marion dropped down a notch in classification from 4A to 3A a few years back, well — it just didn’t seem right.

    Yeah, I get it. It’s all about school enrollment figures. They don’t lie.

    Muncie Central, which won eight state basketball championships under our former single-class system, was the first shocker I recall when the Bearcats became a 3A school.

    Then a little later on Marion, which now has won 8 state championships, followed. The Giants won state in 2016 as a 3A school.

    There are those who’ll say that winning is winning regardless of the class. I get it. I also don’t think Marion regrets being the 3A champion, since that’s all the Giants could play for in 2016.

    It’s also safe to assume that teams winning in the other two classes have no regrets, and they’ll gladly display their banners. And why shouldn’t they?

    The IHSAA makes the rules and the teams must play by them regardless of the ‘class’ alignment.

    I can remember when Guerin Catholic won two Class 3A state titles. No one was complaining. It was just a healthy dose of hoopla, a lot of hoopla! Pats on the back and hugs were also the greeting of the day!

    Still, I’m glad that Muncie Central and Marion are back where they belong — in the state’s top class. They have a lot of history, much positive history for sure.

  • Mudsock Football: Let the battle begin!
    9/10/2019 

    It’s the Battle of Mudsock. 

    It’s not the fisticuffs display where the “Battle of Mudsock’’ got its name after a long night of throwing punches during an altercation of patrons from two rival saloons in the late 1800s in Fishers.

    Nope, this one just offers high school football-style intensity. 

    And quite frankly, well, that’s a great deal of intensity!

    Still, win or lose, though, the participants will line up and congratulate one another at midfield.

    It’s just a good, healthy rivalry. 

    This Battle of Mudsock will be renewed Friday night at Reynolds Tiger Stadium, pitting high school rivals Hamilton Southeastern and Fishers against each other. 

    If you like rock-em-sock-em football, that’s the place to be! The Tigers and Royals will certainly ‘get it on’ the best way they know how. 
    And, yes, the grudges are real . . . and so are the bragging rights for the victors.

    It’s where you’ll feel and hear the presence of each student body even before the opening kickoff. And the students of each school will be stomping on their set of bleachers once the action gets under way . . . and providing even more enthusiasm and oh-so-much boisterous behavior throughout the contest.

    It’s where many City of Fishers residents, likely numbering around 10,000 fans, will be piling in and tailgating at both ends outside the stadium and whooping it up as they prepare for the annual slugfest.

    It’s where a big traffic jam will follow during the rides home or to a local gathering place after the smoke settles from what is regarded as one of the state’s biggest and the season’s most fierce gridiron battles.

    It’s where the late Dub Clark created and presented the Mudsock Award for the first time in 2007; and, his family continues to carry on the tradition.

    The game will be furious and physical, a smash-mouth showdown; and the setting is always a breath-taking atmosphere where everything about it will reach a fever-pitch level.

  • 9/5/2019 

    The importance of football versus basketball in high school sports?

    Some controversy here, I’m guessing.

    And we can probably count on a few more spirited debates on this.

    I had a long chat with an acquaintance, a former Indiana high school football and basketball All-American who has actually become a good friend of mine since 2010. He’s also an Indiana Basketball Hall of Fame inductee . . . and he knows a great deal about sports in general.

    “I do think because of the specialty camps and the good athletes in Indiana that football has a much bigger role in our Indiana high school sports,’’ he said.

    I don’t think anyone would disagree that football is as important in the high school setting as basketball.

    Like me, many of you likely have seen more full football stadiums on a consistent basis than basketball arenas at some of our bigger high schools in Hamilton County.

    What about comments we’ve heard that football has become as big as basketball in Indiana? 

    Well, think about it: Maybe it’s not so much that basketball has dropped in stature as it is that football has grown in stature.

    Make sense? Quite possibly!

    There’s room for both sports, and we need both sports. High schools also depend on both sports to generate funds at the gate. I mean, they are the sports that generate the most revenue of all sports played in a calendar season.

    No argument there.

    Some other factors to consider . . . 

    *—How many athletes turn to football because there is no room on the school basketball team?

    *—How many kids turn to private schools, with smaller classrooms and more opportunities to participate in sports?

  • 3 County football teams enter Week 3 unbeaten
    9/3/2019 

    What happened in Week 2 of the Indiana High School football season told us a lot.

    And Week 3 could even tell us more.

    After last week, Class 6A Fishers and Westfield, and 3A Guerin Catholic are the lone unbeaten Hamilton County teams, and there’s a good chance there won’t be any changes this week.

    All three teams have posted impressive offensive and defensive statistics.

    Carmel and Sheridan are each 1-1, as is Hamilton Southeastern, which suffered a 17-16 setback at North Central.

    And Noblesville and Hamilton Heights enter Week 3 at 0-2, where the Millers and Huskies also stood going into Week 3 a year ago.

    Noblesville, which upended Fishers in Week 3 in 2018, plays host to the No. 10 Tigers on Friday.

    And after losing to ranked Cathedral (42-14) and Carmel (37-0) don’t make the mistake of thinking the 6A Millers have an easy assignment this time in a Hoosier Crossroads Conference opener. 

    Carmel’s defense held Noblesville to 79 total yards, and Greyhounds’ senior running back Dylan Downing rushed for 216 yards and two touchdowns.  

    Repeating what the Millers did in Week 3 last season, and then going on to defeat Westfield and HSE again looks like a tall order this time around.
    Fishers, Westfield and Hamilton SE have shown much improvement from a year ago.

    Quite frankly, this could be labeled as ‘gut-check’ week for the Millers, who are allowing an average of 39.5 points per outing. 

    I’m guessing that Noblesville can take a punch that’s likely coming, but can the Millers bounce back and find a way to put enough points on the scoreboard?

  • 8/29/2019 

    Some of this, some of that:

    There are good fans. There are bad fans. There are angry fans. There are also many fair-weather fans.

    And there’s likely a mixture among Colts fans.

    Look into your bathroom mirror and ask yourself, honestly now, which “fan’’ are you?

    We’re all shocked and saddened that Andrew Luck retired.  It’s too bad the news leaked at last week’s preseason game against the Bears. Really poor timing to be blunt!

    And we should all be saddened that Luck was booed while leaving the sidelines and heading to the dressing room for the final time as a player and team captain.

    He’s done many good things for the Colts and the City of Indianapolis, for that matter. But injuries are injuries and Luck made a decision that he felt was the best for him. No matter how you might feel, you need to respect him and the decision he made.

    The prized quarterback delivered so many great games, and it’s really a shame that one of his last memories will be leaving the field at Lucas Oil Stadium with boos ringing in his ears. He deserved better than that from fans who used to cheer pretty much his every pass, his every move on the field that included many late-game comeback drives.

    Someone at a local gathering place said he thought that the season ticket holders — obviously stunned by the sudden and shocking news, as were most of us — felt so let down, which probably triggered such an outpouring of boos.

    Another person referred to the moment as simply a gut reaction.

    Hmmm, OK, fine . . . maybe, but still . . . it was shameful and obviously hurtful. 

    There are some really great fans in the metropolitan Indy area who could have done better, could have reacted better, and could have displayed more class while overcome by sorrow instead of exhibiting such a poor behavior. 

    And something to think about: Before you question an athlete who’s prone to injuries, you need to walk in his shoes. You really should! That’s been said many, many times, I know . . . but it’s true. 

    You really couldn’t blame Luck and his wife if they might have decided to pack up and leave the city after what transpired

  • 8/27/2019 

    The new Football “Mercy Rule’’ made its debut in Indiana High School football last Friday night.

    You know the rule, right?

    . . . If a team is leading by 35 points at halftime, then the clock continues running continuously in the second half . . .

    And even if the score dips below 35 points in the second half, well, it still continues to run.

    The only exceptions once that happens are timeouts, scores, and injuries.

    The clock may not revert back to standard timing regardless of the score. Coaches will not have the ability to override it.

    The Mercy Rule was done jointly by the IHSAA and the Indiana Football Coaches’ Association, which began researching the topic with its membership on this for three years before approaching the IHSAA with the proposal.

    Some Mercy Rule games involving Indianapolis-area teams last Friday:

    *—Class 5A No. 1 New Palestine built a 56-0 halftime lead at Kokomo on its way to a 63-13  victory.

    *—Heritage Christian led Manual 50-0 at halftime and won 56-0.

    *—Lawrence North pounded Perry Meridian 55-0.

    Some near misses enabled a few teams to save face and escape the Mercy Rule in Week 1:

    *—Louisville Trinity had 5A No. 1 Carmel down 34-0 at intermission and then won 41-14.

    *—Class 2A No. 1 Western Boone also just missed the mark, outscoring Sheridan 34-0 in the first 2 quarters on its way to handing the Blackhawks a 41-6 setback, their ninth straight season-opening loss.

    *—Martinsville came up 4 points short, outscoring Bedford North Lawrence by 31 points in the first half en route to a 40-7 victory.

    The Mercy Rule speeds up the game, it takes the decision out of the hands of the coaches when it becomes a lopsided game. It’s also a safety factor for the kids, not to mention good sportsmanship.

    Is it a good rule?

    You bet.

  • Turn on those Friday Night Lights!
    8/22/2019 

    The long wait is over, finally!

    Indiana High school football kicks off today at 7 p.m.

    One Hamilton County home game of particular interest should be at Noblesville, where the former Hare Chevrolet Field has been renamed Beaver Materials Field.

    One thing will remain the same when Class 5A No. 2 Cathedral comes calling for the 2019 opener. Bob Tremain will be seated in the press box as usual. He begins his 25th season announcing Noblesville Millers football.

    That’s a long time. What a milestone . . . yeah, and that’s a BIG deal. A really BIG deal!

    The Millers plan to honor him in the regular-season-ending home game on Oct. 11.

    And Noblesville Schools will commemorate 150 years of excellence during the 2019-20 school year.

    “It’s a great day to be a Miller!’’ said Tremain, a former teacher and Girls Athletic Director at Noblesville High School.

    Hopefully, there won’t be a similar outcome to last season’s opener against the Irish at Lucas Oil Stadium. That ended in favor of Cathedral, 31-7. Noblesville should certainly have much incentive. And hopefully the Millers can add plenty of excitement in what could be a big-time game for them.

    Not sure how tough Cathedral is this season, though the Irish are usually good and competitive. The program also has produced 12 state champions, the last coming in 2014. And that preseason ranking is impressive. The Irish are ranked right behind defending state champion New Palestine in the Coaches’ poll.

    The Irish are young and inexperienced in some areas, similar to Noblesville. But Cathedral does have a proven quarterback in Orin Edwards. He threw for 2,500-plus yards and 23 touchdowns last year as a junior. He also scrambles well. One would think that containing him looms imperative for the Millers.

    Noblesville has a pair of 3-year starters in offensive linemen Cam Knight and receiver Jayden Barrett. Junior receiver Zach Blevins and fullback Elijah Butler, a senior move-in from Toledo, Ohio, could play a big role on offense. More experience comes at linebacker, led by Jacob Hamm; and in the secondary, led by Aidan Richardson and Carson Sanders.

  • Tod Windlan eager to make mark coaching Lady Kats
    8/20/2019 

    Strange how things can change . . .  and then seem to happen for a reason.

    Tod Windlan, recently named the varsity girls basketball coach at Kokomo High School, might still be coaching girls basketball at Hamilton Heights had things worked out.

    But after leading the Class 3A Lady Huskies to a state runner-up finish in the 2012-13 season, a year after winning school’s first girls sectional title since 2002-2003 in his first season at the Hamilton County school, finding the right teaching job didn’t work out for him.

    “I interviewed for the PE job and I was devastated when I didn’t get it. And I was wanting to get out of the golf business,’’ said Windlan, who was the PGA Club professional at Grandview in Anderson, his hometown. “The only job available involved maintenance and outside athletic work; it wasn’t enough (not a career move).

    “I loved it at Heights. I loved the community and the people, and we had a good girls’ basketball program there. I really could have seen myself retiring there under the right circumstances. Now, I feel the same about Kokomo. I really love my new opportunity!’’

    Windlan originally was the girls coach at Frankton for four years. He was at Anderson Highland for two years, but there was no teaching vacancy when the Anderson schools merged. He was at Yorktown and Delta, each for 1 year.

    You might say he had some bad luck at some of his previous stops.

    Things happen for a reason . . .

  • 8/15/2019 

    When it comes to Carmel football, the talk is more about “reloading’’ not “rebuilding.’’

    One former Carmel coach mentioned that to me during a preseason interview a few years back. It seems like not much has changed since then.

    Coach John Hebert and his Greyhounds figure to come into the 2019 season with their usual high hopes for making another strong run in the high school football season . . . and possibly the IHSAA tournament once again.

    Not only did Hebert win the Class 6A state title in 2016, his first year as Carmel’s head coach, he brought home a state runner-up banner in 2018, finishing with an 11-3 won-lost record. He has a 39-15 won-loss record and has never lost in the sectional.

    Carmel has reached the 6A state finals four times since 2013. The Greyhounds also have won six consecutive sectionals and regionals.

    Overall, the Hamilton County School leads the state with 30 sectional football titles, and Carmel shares the all-time record of regional titles with Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger at 21.

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