1. Can anyone slow down Mt. Vernon, or are the Marauders on a collision course with Delta?
Akin to a snowball tumbling downhill, the Marauders (4-1, 3-0 Hoosier Heritage Conference) have gained strength as the season has wore on en route to achieving the title of the top scoring 4A team in Indiana (45.6 points per game). After rushing for 179 yards in a season-opening OT loss to Kokomo, Mt. Vernon has gained 320, 396, 443 and 513 yards on the ground in four straight wins, the last of which was a 58-26 dismantling of two-time sectional champion Pendleton Heights (3-2, 1-2 HHC).
“We seem to block with a lot of passion and effort on offense. When I talk to the kids, I say, ‘You got to fight for a block.’ We fight for our blocks,” MV coach Doug Armstrong said. “And our backs block for each other, so our overall blocking is really what’s impressed me the most.”
With a win over Shelbyville (2-3, 2-1 HHC) Friday, Mt. Vernon can make the conference race a two-team contest between themselves and Delta (4-1, 3-0 HHC). If Anthony Burnett, Tyler Dicks and Kameryn Risper can dive, dodge and drive their way through the Eagles on Oct. 5 in Muncie, the Marauders should capture their first league crown since 2003.
2. Multiple QB options for New Pal
Max Disman was slated to be the starter at quarterback entering this fall before suffering a knee injury over the summer, less than a year after enduring a season-ending knee injury early last season. The six-foot-5 senior, a natural drop-back passer, made his return last week offers a nice change of pace to incumbent Blake Luker, who is more of a dual-threat signal-caller.
However, Charlie Hill says there is no QB controversy.
“Blake Luker is clearly our starting quarterback. The plan would be to be in position with the game to get Max a chance to play a little bit,” said the first-year head coach. “He’s working to be in better condition, to get tempered to the collisions of the game. For now, Blake’s carrying the flag for us.”
NP (2-3, 1-2 HHC) has a chance to salvage its season in the coming weeks, with its first home game of the season Friday against Yorktown (2-3, 1-2 HHC), followed by a road game at Shelbyville and then finally home tilts against G-C and MV to close the 2012 regular season.
3. Can G-C finish above .500 for 3rd year in a row?
The Cougars (2-3, 1-2 HHC) haven’t finished above .500 in three consecutive campaigns since 1973-75. Taking care of business against Shelbyville last week and Rushville (1-4, 0-3 HHC) Friday will aide G-C in its cause, though the finishing slate of at Mt. Vernon, at New Palestine and home vs. Pendleton Heights could put a dent in those hopes.
So far, the blue-and-gold have ridden the legs of QB Derek Conley (346 yards), Brant-Boles Lattimore (272) and Joe Hoskins (224).
Look for a similar formula Friday against the Lions, who have had trouble stopping MV and NP’s ground games (443 and 212 yards rushing, respectively) the past two weeks.
“Winning is what you’re trying to do each week,” G-C coach Roger Dodson said. “It makes things a lot easier and takes care of a lot of things."
4. Will the real Eastern Hancock please stand up?
The Royals (2-3, 1-2 Mid-Indiana Football Conference) were the talk of Hancock County football after throttling Tindley and South Decatur 101-13 in their first two go-arounds, but have been felled in three straight weeks to Indian Creek, Milan and Knightstown. To be sure, the latter three teams represent a step up in competition, but the road gets no easier for Eastern Hancock.
North Decatur (4-1, 1-0 MIFC), fresh off a 17-7 road upset of Milan, arrives in Charlottesville Friday looking to remain atop the conference. And with a home tilt against Shenandoah (3-2) on Oct. 5, the Royals will need to raise their game and rely on the running of Spencer Gilbert, though EH does have Hancock County’s most prolific pass-and-catch combination in QB Logan Splater (688 passing yards, 11 touchdowns) and WR Derrik Noel (248 receiving yards, seven TD catches). The blue-and-white are striving for the program’s first winning season since 2006.
5. Who will wind up with the HHC traveling trophy?
According to Mt. Vernon co-athletic director Greg Roach, the helmet was instituted in 1998, with Rushville acquiring the HHC hat by topping Shelbyville in Week 2 of that season.
So which school is going to end up with control of the old-school football helmet at the end of the regular season? It very well could land right where it started the season, in New Palestine.
Consider this scenario:
Greenfield-Central, currently the bearers of the headgear, earned the trophy for the very first time by virtue of its 42-27 win over Shelbyville last weekend. Let’s say the Cougars defeat Rushville Friday and bring the helmet with them to Fortville on Sept. 28. Mt. Vernon then beats G-C and Delta, and hardware tags along with MV to New Palestine on Oct. 12.
After winning 20 consecutive HHC contests, the Dragons finally relinquished the trophy on Aug. 31 to Pendleton Heights. At the the HHC challenge at Lucas Oil Stadium on Sept. 8, Shelbyville claimed the helmet after upsetting the Arabians.
It’s going to be a wild finish.