Floyd Central football coach Brian Glesing’s prediction of unpredictability in the Hoosier Hills Conference has proven quite accurate.
Only one thing in the league is almost 100-percent certain: Columbus East is going to win it. Again. Barring an upset on a miraculous scale, the Olympians are steamrolling toward their 12th straight HHC championship. Anybody, and everybody, could have envisioned that without any foresight or alleged Nostradamus abilities.
Determining the second-best team in the conference is much more difficult. That was confirmed on Friday night when Bedford North Lawrence – a star-crossed team with three hard-luck losses – waded through the rain to upset the Highlanders 28-21.
After Week 7, four teams could still claim the runner-up spot behind East, for what that will be worth. Floyd Central is one of those stuck in that traffic jam, and the Highlanders still have motivation for the regular season with a Senior Night game against Jennings County (4-1 in the league) and a rivalry finish at New Albany.
Anyone wanting to stamp their certificate as a legitimate prognosticator should try to figure out Class 5-A Sectional 16.
BNL’s clash with Floyd Central was a possible sectional preview. The Stars are 3-4 with a road win over the Highlanders (4-3), while Castle (3-4 after blowing a 38-7 lead against Evansville Harrison and suffering a staggering 39-38 loss) and Evansville North (1-6 under former BNL coach Bret Szabo) will meet this week.
The IHSAA will announce the draw on Oct. 11. The champion could ultimately be decided by the bounce of a ping-ping ball in Indianapolis. The team that receives two home games for the sectional will determine the favorite more than the regular-season results.
“Anybody can win that thing,” Glesing said. “We’re all about average. That’s what it is. Anybody can beat anybody on a given night.”
“We may see each other again,” BNL coach Steve Weber said. “It’s a very wide-open sectional for any of the teams. If we’re moving in the right direction, it can be won.”
The luck of the bounce is not exactly the fair way to crown a champion. But football mirrors life, and life is certainly not fair. The Highlanders discovered that when two Floyd fumbles slipped out of wet hands and set up BNL’s go-ahead touchdowns in the fourth quarter.
“We had turnovers at the wrong times and Bedford capitalized,” Glesing said. “That’s the kind of team they’ve been all year. They just hadn’t won at the end. They made the plays and we didn’t. They were the better all-around team, and it showed. That was the bottom line.”
BNL also had ball-protection issues in the cold, rainy, windy and constantly miserable conditions. BNL quarterback Brayden Tidd coughed up a fumble on a sack, and Floyd’s Bradley Philpot scooped it to score for a 14-7 lead in the third quarter.
But Tidd was also deadly accurate in the passing game, completing 10 of 12 for 174 yards and three touchdowns. Throwing through a damp deluge is not easy.
“In this kind of weather, anything can happen,” Weber said. “If it happens to us, you just have to overcome it, shake it off and go. They always say, in the rain, an offense knows where it’s going. Baloney. It hurt us, but Brayden did a great job.”
The final intangible to consider before making any postseason prediction will be the weather. It was brutal on Friday, and could be again on the final two Friday nights of October, when the Sectional 16 champion will be crowned.
“The sectional is up in the air,” said BNL’s Tiger Baldwin, who was given a great name for a middle linebacker. “We’re going to put up a good fight for it.”
Best of the Rest
x-Antonyo Gaddie ran for 209 yards and four touchdowns as Charlestown exploded for a 56-19 victory over Corydon. Gaddie had touchdown runs of 48 and 66 yards as the Pirates improved to 5-2 with their third straight win.
Charlestown’s defense also limited the Panthers, who were 28th in the state in scoring at 42 points per game, and running back Austin Kopp, the state leader in touchdowns. Kopp, who was fourth in the state with 1,318 rushing yards, totaled only 111 yards – most of that on a 70-yard touchdown run. Kopp also had a kickoff return for a score.
x- Class A No.14 West Washington won its first outright PLAC title since 1994 with a 31-14 victory at No.10 Perry Central. Landon McPheeters ran for 228 yards and four touchdowns for the Senators (7-0). McPheeters had scoring runs of 58 and 37 yards, and Hunter Holliday added a 75-yard interception return for a score.
x- North Harrison clinched a share of the Mid-Southern Conference title with a 32-12 victory over Silver Creek. The Class 3-A No.9 Cougars (7-0 overall, 6-0 in the league) can claim the outright crown with a victory over winless Clarksville next week.
Justin Sokeland can be contacted at [email protected]