KENDALLVILLE – About the same time that an East Noble defensive back was leaping in the air to pick off a Carroll pass late in the Knights' 27-7 thrashing of its Northeast Hoosier Conference rival on Friday, I struck up a conversation along the Carroll sideline with Charger girl's basketball coach Mark Redding about how unpredictable high school athletics can be.
“If we could figure out how teenagers were going to think (during games),” Redding laughed, “we'd all be millionaires.”
Teenagers and turnovers. That is essentially what doomed Carroll, which eight days ago was regarded by many to be the best team in northeast Indiana. This morning Doug Dinan's team woke up in sixth place in the NHC. That is unbelievable. As is high school football in this area.
Carroll losing at East Noble isn't a massive surprise; the Knights are pretty good and now control their own destiny in a quest for at least a share of the NHC championship. But it's how they lost (eight turnovers) to an East Noble team, which didn't even play its most productive player (leading rusher and scorer senior running back Brandon Mable sat out the game due to suspension), that was so shocking.
But Carroll's outcome wasn't the only eye-popper from Friday, far from it, in fact.
Sticking in the NHC, Bellmont got by Homestead 14-13 in overtime to beat Sparty for the first time since the Brave seniors were in diapers (18 years), if they were even alive.
Homestead hadn't been beaten in league play in 28 games, but they have been now, and the NHC is a muddled mess (five teams within a game of leader New Haven) because of it.
“New Haven is still undefeated,” Knight coach Luke Amstutz said. “We'll get our shot at it eventually, but we've got to take it (one game at a time) and beat Norwell.”
That whole “one game at a time” shtick is for real. The fans and media may not buy it, but how do you think Snider coach Kurt Tippmann was feeling as Concordia Lutheran lined up for a game-winning attempt on a two-point conversion late Friday?
The Cadets' upset bid (they've now lost to the Panthers seven straight times) fell short in a 14-13 loss, but the margin demonstrates that no one ever really knows how a particular game will unfold.
Snider is one of just two unbeaten squads remaining in Summit Athletic Conference play, but neither the Panthers nor co-leader Bishop Dwenger has proven infallible.
Snider squeaked by Northrop 35-28 two weeks ago, and the Bruins have fallen off of the football map over the last 14 days.
The Saints needed a furious rally (and possibly some divine intervention) to survive at North Side earlier this month. Every week is a “must watch” for area fans and a “must prepare” for area teams.
For a rare occurrence on Friday, Bishop Dwenger was actually regarded as an underdog in its game at Ohio-power Cincinnati LaSalle. However, when Saint senior Ryan Watercutter managed to intercept a Lancer pass in the end zone in overtime, the play preserved a 31-24 Dwenger victory.
Even in Ohio prep football, this rule applies.
If there was a “sure thing” anywhere in northeast Indiana on Friday, it had to have been Garrett hosting a beleaguered Bluffton squad, which got smoked at Woodlan 56-0 a week ago. The Railroaders were riding a hot streak (three consecutive victories) and had won 12 straight times on their home field. So of course the Tigers doubled up Garrett 28-14.
Bishop Luers lost its fifth straight game to remain winless (yet will probably still receive votes in the latest IHSAA poll) after being shutout by Wayne 15-0, while Churubusco barely got by Angola 14-7, and South Side, which was inches from being winless (the Archers got an overtime win against Luers, for what that is now worth), looked like world-beaters at Northrop (a 47-21 Bruin beat down).
All of this reinforces the notion that the only money that should be laid down on Fort Wayne-area prep football should be for tickets to a “never know what you'll see” event, because bettors would be losing their shirts over this stuff.