We are midway through the high school football regular season. I thought now would be an appropriate time to look at the best teams, from top to bottom, in Southwestern Indiana. I started out sorting this by Sagarin ratings, then moved schools up or down based on injuries, strength of schedule, common opponents. It’s not scientific, and admittedly subjective. But without further ado, here are my power rankings through five games, divided into six tiers:
Cue the Titan bias accusations! I promise I’m not basing this on the Gibson Southern-Reitz scrimmage this summer (which I heard did not fare well for the Panthers). But obviously, you could make a case for all three teams at the No. 1 spot as each are the top-ranked team in their respective class. Gibson has not been challenged, but will face its first true test Friday against Heritage Hills at The Jungle. This week, Mater Dei has to beat Castle, who in all honesty, should’ve upset Reitz in Week 3 if not for a bogus high school onside kick return rule. If the Wildcats can hold on, we’re likely to see another 8-0 showdown between the Westside rivals at the bowl. Again, these three are fairly interchangeable to me, but Gibson has looked invincible so far.
Fair or unfair, I give Castle the nod over Heritage Hills because of the aforementioned Knights’ upset that didn’t materialize. The Patriots have done everything in their power — including a win against Jasper in Week 4 — to show last fall wasn’t just a flash in the pan season. So it comes down to this hypothetical: Do you think Heritage Hills could’ve come as close as Castle did to beating Reitz? Kenton Crews’ heroics aside, I think their offense still has question marks. But heck, even Castle looked suspect moving the ball last week after the first quarter. Jasper is right there in the mix and its defense has lived up to expectations. But how much better are the Wildcats than Harrison and Central? Could we see a 4A Sectional 24 title game that doesn’t feature Reitz and Jasper? I think there’s a decent chance.
There’s a fairly steep drop-off here, according to Sagarin. Even after being shut out 28-0 against Reitz and a back-up quarterback last week, I still believe in Harrison. Athletically, they match up against any team in Tier II and you could make a case for Tier I as well. These next two weeks will tell me a lot about the Warriors (two home games against Central and Castle). Southridge is off to another 3-0 start in the Pocket, albeit against a weak schedule, but Scott Buening’s Wing-T offense continues to churn out points despite losing several key players from last season. Central arguably has the most elusive backfield in the SIAC with Tias Stewart and Dorian Williams, but haven’t put up much of a fight against Reitz and Castle. And I’ll be honest. I’m not sure what to make of Perry Central, but they’re 5-0 and that deserves recognition.
Tons of parity here, particularly in the Big Eight. The first year of Darin Ward era in Boonville has gone as well as possible. The Pioneers host Mount Vernon this week, with the winner staying alive in the conference title race. Princeton’s upset against Mount Carmel (for the first time in 43 years) was significant, but is looking less so by the week with the way the Aces defense has played. By Sagarin, Memorial probably should be in Tier III but injuries to key players cause them to move down in my opinion. North looks like a one-win team in the SIAC. Vincennes pounded Mount Vernon a couple weeks ago, but the Alices are down significantly since winning a share of the conference last year.
How the mighty have fallen… Before the season, I booked a Mount Carmel story assuming they were the favorites to win the Big Eight in returning an offense that appeared highly dangerous on paper. The Aces offense took a hit when junior Daxton Peach suffered a season-ending knee injury. But it’s been their defense that has struggled big time — 49 points per game the past two weeks.
There’s another big drop between Tier V and VI. I’m not going to get into every team here, but I do find it is eye-opening that there are five teams in our area worse than Bosse.
So where did I go wrong? Let me know where you disagree.