Indiana Football Digest Games - 2019 Week One

The Indiana Football Digest Top Games is a weekly preview of the top match-ups in Indiana high school football.



KICKOF: 7 p.m. CDT, Demaree Stadium.

COACHES: Chris Skinner, 23-12 in fourth season at Andrean. Brad Seiss, 20-24 in fifth season at Merrillville, 33-41 in eighth season overall.

LAST YEAR'S RECORD: Andrean 10-2, Merrillville 7-4.

TOP PERFORMERS: Ryan Walsh recorded 65 tackles for the No. 4 (Class 2A) 59ers last year. Aahric Whitehead tossed for 1,691 yards and 15 touchdowns for the Pirates.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Merrillville, 20-14, on August 17, 2018.

CHALK TALK: "Offensively, we need to be varied in our play-calling. We can't let Merrillville's defense dictate the flow and tempo of the game. We'll also need to play a clean game. Penalties and missed assignments will halt drives and put us in unfavorable down and distance situations. Last year we committed six turnovers. That just can't happen again. Defensively, we need to swarm the football. We had all 11 flowing to the football last week in our scrimmage, and it covered up some individual mistakes. Merrillville has a few players that can make us miss. We won't win every one-on-one tackle, but if we get multiple defenders running to the football, it'll help limit the explosive play. We also have one of the best kickers-punters in Indiana with senior J.J. Wadas, so he needs to help us win the hidden yardage game on special teams." – Andrean's Chris Skinner.

"Week one is just as much about controlling your own team as much as it is who you play. Turnovers and mistakes in the kicking game, conditioning, and tackling seem to be the difference between winning and losing. Although we are fortunate to have several returning starters, you still have to adjust to once again to playing on Friday nights. The Battle of Broadway is a very emotional game and important to both Merrillville and Andrean. As always, we look for it to be extremely close. We were very fortunate to come away with victory last year, so we know Andrean will come back motivated to win." – Merrillville's Brad Seiss.


KICKOF: 7 p.m. EDT, Roard Stadium.

COACHES: Jason Simmons, 3-7 in second season at Ben Davis, 29-26 in sixth season overall. John Hart, 26-6 in fourth season at Brownsburg, 294-88 in 35th season overall.

LAST YEAR'S RECORD: Ben Davis 3-7, Brownsburg 10-1.

TOP PERFORMERS: Trent Gipson went 115-of-212 for 1,387 yards with six touchdowns for the No. 9 (Class 6A) Giants. Ben Easters was 121-of-232 for 1,711 yards and 15 scores for the No. 4 (Class 6A) Bulldogs.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Ben Davis, 49-13, on October 28, 2016 in Class 6A sectional semifinal.

CHALK TALK: "We will need to win the line of scrimmage, minimize explosive plays by their offense, and maintain a high level of discipline to negate their pressures defensively and play action passing game offensively." – Ben Davis' Jason Simmons.

"We have the best offensive lines I have had in many years and maybe ever & a (NCAA) D-1 running back in Donovan Marcus), so we need to block the box and make them pay when they bring more guys in the box. Our defense needs to get pressure on their quarterback (Trent Gipson) and not let him run. That's our biggest fear is his ability to run the ball effectively." – Brownsburg's John Hart.


KICKOF: 7 p.m. EDT, Bishop Chatard Stadium.

COACHES: Mic Roessler, 47-27 in seventh season at Brebeuf Jesuit. Rob Doyle, 18-9 in third season at Bishop Chatard.

LAST YEAR'S RECORD: Brebeuf 10-3, Bishop Chatard 11-3.

TOP PERFORMERS: Gabe Wright ran 33 times for 627 yards and five scores for the No. 4 (Class 3A) Braves. Daylen Taylor scampered 243 times for 1,447 yards and 20 touchdowns for the No. 2 (Class 3A) Trojans.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Bishop Chatard, 38-7, on August 17, 2018.

CHALK TALK: "We expect a great challenge Friday night. For us to be successful, we need to win the turnover battle and finish each offensive drive with points. I expect our defense to play solid football for four quarters. We need them to score or set up a score to be victorious." – Brebeuf's Mic Roessler.

"Brebeuf is a very talented team with tremendous team speed. We will need to contain (Jay) Higgins, (Gabe) Wright, and (Caleb) Ellison. We need to win up front as we appear to have a bit more depth but (Joe) Strickland is a top level lineman for them. Offensively, we just need to run our offense and balance our run and pass game as normal. Controlling the ball will be key for us." – Bishop Chatard's Rob Doyle.


KICKOF: 7 p.m. EDT, Warrior Stadium.

COACHES: Eric Moore, 188-66 in 21st season at Center Grove, 236-71 in 25th season overall. Jayson West, 59-16 in seventh season at Warren Central, 111-28 in 12th season overall.

LAST YEAR'S RECORD: Center Grove 9-4, Warren Central 14-0.

TOP PERFORMERS: Carson Steele accumulated 2,270 yards on the ground with 29 touchdowns on 367 attempts for the No. 2 (Class 6A) Trojans. Marquise Cross racked up 40 tackles for the No 3 and defending Class 6A state champion Warriors.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Warren Central, 27-20, on November 16, 2018 in Class 6A semistate

CHALK TALK: "Warren Central vs. Center Grove is the best start of the season in any sport anywhere in Indiana. We must not turn the ball over in the first quarter, like we have the past 3 times we have played them Our offense must control the ball and get first downs because they can be as big as touchdowns. Our defense must eliminate Warren Central's big plays and make them work for everything. Hoping that this will be the typical physical knock down battle as we have had in the past." – Center Grove's Eric Moore.

"We have to win the big play and the turnover battles and limit (Carson) Steele the best we can from taking over the game." – Warren Central's Jayson West.


KICKOF: 8:30 p.m. EDT, Lucas Oil Stadium.

COACHES: Tim Bless, 130-83 in 20th season at Columbus North, 142-92 in 22nd season overall. Mark Bless, 75-32 in 10th season at Avon, 224-99 in 30th season overall.

LAST YEAR'S RECORD: Columbus North 8-2, Avon 9-3.

TOP PERFORMERS: Blake Huffman rambled 224 times for 1,231 yards and 12 touchdowns for the Bulldogs. Henry Hesson completed 128-of-241 attempts for 1,899 yards with 17 scores for the No. 5 (Class 6A) Orioles.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Columbus North, 55-20, on October 27, 2006 in Class 5A sectional semifinal.

CHALK TALK: "To be successful against Avon, we will need to play great football against a great football program. Specifically, we must take care of the football on offense and special teams. We are seeking to win the turnover ratio and not allow the big play defensively with assignment football and fundamental tackling." – Columbus North's Tim Bless.

"Our keys to victory are having a fast start and a strong finish. We must win the takeaway-giveaway battle in turnovers and win the field position game." – Avon's Mark Bless.


KICKOF: 7 p.m. EDT, Father Bly Field.

COACHES: Craig Koehler, 30-15 in fifth season at Concord. Bryon Whitten, 14-20 in fourth season at Saint Joseph.

LAST YEAR'S RECORD: Concord 6-6, Saint Joseph 7-5.

TOP PERFORMERS: Carter Neveraski had 175 carries for 998 yards and nine scores for the Minutemen. Patrick Driscoll came up with 24 tackles for the Indians.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Saint Joseph, 28-14, on August 17, 2018.

CHALK TALK: "We must get multiple hats to the ball on defense. No. 2 (John Driscoll) is too talented of a player for us to think we can be successful attempting to tackle him in one on one situations. We have to limit his yardage as best we can. It will be very difficult for us to win if he has a big game. We have to protect our quarterback and he and our receivers have to connect consistently. Our ability to complete a good percentage in the passing game will also impact how well we are able to run it. We also must win the turnover margin." – Concord's Craig Koehler.

"To be able to have success against Concord, we have to be able to sustain drives on offense. Concord returns a tough-nosed defense which is very physical up front. We have to fire of the line and get our first steps down to be able to drive them off the ball. If we win the battle up front and provide protection for our quarterbacks, we will be able to get the ball to John Driscoll, Asante Anglin, and Jon Underly in open space so they can make some big plays. Defensively, we need to limit (Ethan) Cain and (Carter) Neveraski. They have big play potential along with (Jamyris) Rice. If we can make them drive the length of the field, we have opportunities to make some plays and get the ball back to our offense. Special teams will be critical and ultimately, whoever wins the special teams and turnover battle will end up winning the game." – Saint Joseph's Bryon Whitten.


KICKOF: 7:30 p.m. EDT, The Rock Pile.

COACHES: Luke Amstutz, 56-20 in eighth season at East Noble, 82-35 in 12th season overall. John Barron, 115-51 in 16th season at Plymouth.

LAST YEAR'S RECORD: East Noble 9-2, Plymouth 6-4.

TOP PERFORMERS: Gage Ernsberger caught 27 passes for 367 yards and five touchdowns for the Knights. Joe Barron was 119-of-256 for 1,754 yards and 17 scores for the Rockies.

PREVIOUS MEETING: East Noble, 16-6, on August 17, 2018.

CHALK TALK: "We are excited for a huge week against a great program. We know we can have success if we can control their quarterback Joe Barron and a very good receiving group." – East Noble's Luke Amstutz.

"For us to have success, we have to keep them in front of us. Coach Amstutz is a 'big play' offensive minded coach. We also need to establish a running game vs. a stingy defense. Lastly, special teams will be critical. They blocked a punt last year which led to their only touchdown." – Plymouth's John Barron.


KICKOF: 7 p.m. EDT, Lootens Stadium.

COACHES: Jeff Adamson, 268-86 in 31st season at Eastbrook. Craig Chambers, 25-10 in fourth season at Marion, 48-23 in seventh season overall.

LAST YEAR'S RECORD: Eastbrook 13-2, Marion 13-1.

TOP PERFORMERS: Alex Baker tallied 80 stops for the No. 2 and Class 2A state runner-up Panthers. J.K. Thomas raced for 1,532 yards and nine touchdowns for the top-ranked (Class 4A) Giants.


CHALK TALK: "Marion has great team speed on both sides of the ball. We will need to have great pursuit and open field tackling on defense. Offensively, we need to have long, sustained drives to keep the ball out of their hands as much as possible. Our conditioning will also be a big factor as we have six to eight guys who will be going both ways and Marion has very few two-way starters. It should be a good game." – Eastbrook's Jeff Adamson.

"Defensively, we have to play assignment football. and tackle, while our offense needs to execute and protect the ball." – Marion's Craig Chambers.


KICKOF: 7 p.m. EDT, Green Field.

COACHES: Ott Hurrle, 192-131 in 28th season at Scecina, 193-140 in 30th season overall. Jordan McCaslin, 19-5 in third season at Shenandoah.

LAST YEAR'S RECORD: Scecina 11-2, Shenandoah 10-2.

TOP PERFORMERS: Tyishaun Woods registered 116 tackles for the No. 3 (Class 2A) Crusaders. Josh Farmer amassed 114 tackles for the No. 10 (Class 2A) Raiders.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Scecina, 28-26, on August 17, 2018.

CHALK TALK: "Defensively, we will have to contain their misdirection offense. Our linebackers and defensive back will have to be very disciplined and stay within their responsibility. Offensively, we must be able to pick up and block their blitzing linebackers. As a team, we will have to be ready to play each play and show physical and mental discipline and toughness." – Scecina's Ott Hurrle.

"For Shenandoah to be successful against Scecina, it will come down to limiting their big plays and being able to control the line of scrimmage. Scecina is a great program which seems to be title contender year in and year out. They're very athletic on both sides of the ball. (David) Baker and (Tyishaun) Woods are great athletes and impossible to completely take away, but slowing them down and limiting their touches is key. We cannot afford to turn the ball over and give them a short field to work with. I feel if we match their physicality and team speed, it should be a very good football game Friday night in Middletown." – Shenandoah's Jordan McCaslin.


KICKOF: 7 p.m. EDT, Andrews Field.

COACHES: Michael Campbell, 97-39 in 12th season at Jimtown. Nate Andrews, 46-15 in sixth season at NorthWood, 86-54 in 13th season overall.

LAST YEAR'S RECORD: Jimtown 5-5, NorthWood 11-1.

TOP PERFORMERS: Clay Campbell went 58-of-96 for 840 yards and nine scores for the Jimmies. Nate Newcomer accounted for 79 tackles and two interceptions for the No. 5 (Class 4A) Panthers.

PREVIOUS MEETING: NorthWood, 26-0, on August 17, 2018.

CHALK TALK: "Northwood is extremely well-coached and does a nice job of executing in all three phases of the game. In order for us to have a chance in the fourth quarter, we will have to match their intensity and speed of the game. Our experienced players must play big and we're going to have to put a full game together in order to win this Friday." – Jimtown's Mike Campbell.

"It's always a battle when these two teams get together, so we will have to play the toughest the longest in order to be successful." – NorthWood's Nate Andrews.


KICKOF: 7:30 p.m. EDT, Viking Field.

COACHES: Cory Yeoman, 174-35 in 17th season at Penn. Bill Marshall, 10-4 in second season at Valparaiso.

LAST YEAR'S RECORD: Penn 8-3, Valparaiso 10-3.

TOP PERFORMERS: Joe Apata finished with 30 tackles for the No. 6 (Class 6A) Kingsmen. Peyton Krutz had 54 stops for the No. 7 (Class 5A) Vikings.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Valparaiso, 21-0, on November 2, 2018 in Class 6A sectional final.

CHALK TALK: "They (Valparaiso) have a lot of talented players, so we have to execute in all three phases of the game (offense, defense, and special teams). We can't allow the big plays on defense and take advantage of the opportunities we get offensively." – Penn's Cory Yeoman.

"For us to have success against Penn, it is going to take great effort during practice. Throughout the game, we will have to establish our inside run game and be able to hold up against their blitzes. Our offensive line needs to be a physical presence on the field from the beginning. Defensively, we have to be relentless to the football. We have to minimize big plays from Penn and get them into down and distance situations where we can send the full force of our defensive line." – Valparaiso's Bill Marshall.


KICKOF: 7 p.m. EDT, Sheumann Stadium.

COACHES: Shane Fry, 68-12 in seventh season at West Lafayette. Pat Shanley, 25-7 in fourth season at Lafayette Jeff.

LAST YEAR'S RECORD: West Lafayette 15-0, Lafayette Jeff 9-2.

TOP PERFORMERS: Harrison Truitt registered 47 catches for 840 yards and nine touchdowns for the No. 1 and defending Class 3A state champion Red Devils. Maximus Grimes went 205-of-331 for 3,242 yards with 41 scores for the No. 8 (Class 6A) Bronchos.

PREVIOUS MEETING: West Lafayette, 38-29, on August 17, 2018.

CHALK TALK: "Winning the turnover battle is always important, but in a week one game against a quality opponent, we need to take care of the football and be opportunistic on defense. We have to limit their big plays (20+ yards). They have playmakers all over the field, so we need to make them earn their yardage. We need to establish the run game on offense. They have one of the top defensive line-outside linebacker groups in all of the state. We have to be able to find a way to run the ball and keep their linebackers honest." – West Lafayette's Shane Fry.

"We have to limit turnovers and penalties and can't give their offense extra possessions or cheap yards.  Blocking and tackling will be crucial because they bring back several starters off of last year's state title team. They play extremely, extremely hard, so can we match or exceed their effort snap after snap. We cannot allow extra yards after contact and catches and must get their guys to the ground. We must handle adversity like champions because they are extremely talented, a well-oiled machine. They are going to make plays in all three phases, so our guys must stay the course." – Lafayette Jeff's Pat Shanley.

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