At roughly 8 p.m. on Sept. 11, Hamilton Southeastern appeared on its way to a 2-2 start.
The Royals trailed rival Fishers by four touchdowns at halftime. Then it got crazy. HSE rallied for a 39-33 win and hasn’t looked back. The Royals are now 8-1, ranked fourth in Class 6A and the outright champion of the Hoosier Crossroads Conference.
Fishers was ranked No. 3 that night, on the cusp of a 4-0 start. The Tigers are now 6-3 and unranked, though coming off back-to-back wins over Westfield and Zionsville to end the regular season.
HSE returns to the scene of its heist Friday night, playing at Fishers in a 6A Sectional 4 game. Last year, in the same round, Fishers blanked HSE 21-0. Overall, the Tigers are 3-1 in tournament games against the Royals.
Prediction: There is a reason HSE has won every game since the season-opening loss to Carmel. There are many reasons, in fact. The Royals are talented and explosive on both sides of the ball. Carter Poiry (1,928 passing yards, 12 TDs) has shown the ability to throw for big numbers when necessary and seniors Greg Miller (47 catches, 713 yards) and Aaron Matio (613 receiving yards, 578 rushing yards) are playmakers. The defense has also been strong, led by senior Collin Miller (24 tackles for a loss, 11 sacks).
Can Fishers spring the upset? The offense will need to keep pace. Senior quarterback Zach Eaton (1,462 yards, 12 TDs) has played in a lot of big games. The Tigers could use some big plays from senior Jeremy Chinn, who plays mostly defense but leads the team with eight TD runs.
HSE wins this one without digging itself an early hole. HSE 31, Fishers 24.
Final AP regular season high school football rankings
I was 40-5 (88.9 percent) on predictions last week to improve to 317-72 (81.5 percent) overall on the season. Check IndyStar.com on Friday morning for a look at all of the area sectional football predictions. Here’s a look at five of the other top games this week:
Ben Davis (5-4) at Pike (4-5): It’s been up and down most of the season for these teams, but both come in with a two-game winning streak. Pike won the regular season meeting, 30-27, to end the Giants’ nine-game win streak dating back to last season. Ben Davis’ Reese Taylor (1,358 passing yards) has seized his opportunity at quarterback and Chris Evans is coming off his best rushing game this season in a 198-yard effort against Lawrence Central. Giants coach Mike Kirschner is just 2-4 against Pike in tournament games. Ben Davis 30, Pike 27.
Avon (7-2) at Brownsburg (4-5): Since losses to Ben Davis and Hamilton Southeastern, sixth-ranked Avon has ripped off six consecutive wins. One of those was a 56-21 win over Brownsburg on ESPNU as Brandon Peters passed for 362 yards and six touchdowns. Can the Bulldogs keep pace? Brownsburg could use a big day from Iowa recruit Toks Akinribade (1,304 yards, 15 TDs), who rushed for 202 yards in the first meeting. Avon 35, Brownsburg 28.
Cathedral (6-3) at Lawrence Central (3-6): Cathedral’s defense held No. 1 Center Grove to just 211 yards last week in a 7-0 loss. But the fifth-ranked Irish couldn’t get their offense off the ground. Cathedral will need it this week as it takes on a Lawrence Central team that it defeated 32-14 in the season opener. Lawrence Central running back Gerrid Doaks (1,625 yards, 21 TDs) has rushed for more than 150 yards against every opponent except Cathedral and Center Grove. Cathedral 24, Lawrence Central 17.
West Lafayette (8-1) at Western Boone (8-1): West Lafayette is coming off its first loss, 38-20 to Lafayette Central Catholic. But the Class 3A third-ranked Red Devils were mostly dominant in their first eight games. Eighth-ranked Western Boone has found a good connection with quarterback Nathanial Bye (1,858 yards, 24 TDs) and receiver Kaleb McCloskey (56 catches, 785 yards, 12 TDs). These teams last met four years ago in the sectional. West Lafayette 32, Western Boone 27.
Brebeuf Jesuit (5-4) vs. Bishop Chatard (5-3), at Tech: Brebeuf defeated Chatard 22-17 at the beginning of the 2013 season to end a 19-game losing streak to the Trojans. Since then, Chatard has won two more in the series, 17-14 last season and 27-17 this year. Brebeuf’s other three losses are to 5A and 6A programs. Bishop Chatard 26, Brebeuf Jesuit 21.
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.