1. EH’s aim for a perfect regular season has one major obstacle — Shenandoah
With all due respect to North Decatur (2-3) this Friday, Wes-Del (4-1) Oct. 4 and Indianapolis Tindley (2-3) Oct. 18, only one opponent jumps out when glancing at the remaining regular season schedule for Class A No. 7 Eastern Hancock (5-0): Shenandoah.
The Class 2A No. 5 Raiders are 5-0, winning games by roughly the same dominating margin — average score of 57.2 to 12.2 — as the Royals — 49.4 to 18.6.
Eastern Hancock will visit Shenandoah Oct. 11 in the next-to-last regular season game. In the Royals’ previous visit to northwestern Henry County in 2011, the Raiders won 53-6, a typical result in the series.
Shenandoah has six straight wins over Eastern Hancock by an average score of 42.3 to 7.7. The Royals haven’t defeated Shenandoah since the sectional semifinals of 2006, their last winning season.
For an EH program that struggled until recently, many football observers around the state are anxious to see how the resurgent Royals fare against the established Raiders, who have posted records of 9-4, 11-1, 11-1, 7-3 and 9-2 the last five seasons under coach Scott Widner.
The Royals are also looking forward to the test.
“You look at our schedule, year-in and year-out there’s always going to be two games circled on it, and that’s the two rivalries that have been going on for a long time: Knightstown and Shenandoah,” EH coach Pat Echeverria said. “Coach Widner does a great job up there at Shenandoah, and they’ve gotten the best of us for a long time now.”
Echeverria noted that the team’s immediate focus is North Decatur. A win Friday would clinch EH’s first winning season since the 2006 squad, as well as sole possession of the Mid-Indiana Football Conference championship. (Shenandoah is not a MIFC program).
North Decatur is on a three-game losing streak, including setbacks to Milan (55-0) and Knightstown (33-14), teams that EH defeated by wide margins.
Wes-Del’s 4-1 record includes a win over non-IHSAA member Southside HomeSchool, as well as Cambridge City Lincoln (0-5), Southern Wells (1-4) and North Decatur, by a 22-20 score.
And EH’s season-ender against Indianapolis Tindley (2-3) figures to be a repeat of last season’s 40-6 Royals victory.
So, the 9-0 quest comes back to the road trip to Shenandoah.
“With high school kids, you have to have goals that are right in front of them,” Echeverria said when asked if a 9-0 record was important. “Our first goal all along has been to be conference champs. Once we get to that point, we can start talking about bigger and better things.” — BH
2. When will G-C earn its next win?
The 1-4 Cougars’ lone win was against New Castle to open the season. G-C could get lucky with the sectional draw and face New Castle (0-5) again — or maybe Muncie South (0-5) or Beech Grove (1-4) — to start the postseason, but G-C has at least two winnable games remaining in the regular season: Friday at Rushville and Oct. 18 at Pendleton Heights.
The Week 9 matchup against the Arabians (2-3) will be a challenge, but John Broughton’s club is in the midst of a rare down year. Weeks 7 and 8 for the Cougars bring Mt. Vernon (4-1) and New Palestine (5-0) to the gridiron. It all makes this week’s visit to Rushville important for the Cougars in their quest to double their win total.
The bad news: Rushville, at 4-1, is enjoying its best start since 2001. The good news: the Lions beat New Castle “only” 21-17 in Week 2, seven days after G-C handled the Trojans 32-7.
A win Friday for the Cougars will put the brakes on a four-game losing streak. A loss could mean G-C doesn’t earn another victory until it faces New Castle — in Week 1 of 2014. — BH