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Predicted order
1. Snider
2. Bishop Dwenger
3. North Side
4. Bishop Luers
5. South Side
6. Wayne
7. Northrop
8. Concordia
Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Snider will have to beat several tough teams to repeat as the SAC champions. Bishop Dwenger, North Side and Bishop Luers pose the biggest challenges.

Competitive SAC may be balanced, too

Four teams may have shot at winning the title this season

– As competitive as the SAC is, it’s amazing that one team can dominate the league. But a quick look back shows that teams, specifically Bishop Dwenger and Snider, have controlled the league recently.

Snider, which won its first 14 games last year before losing to Lawrence Central in the Class 5A state title game, went 7-0 in league games, just two years removed from Dwenger winning five straight SAC titles. Last year, the Panthers outscored SAC opponents 250-68, the most points scored and the least given up.

“At the beginning of the season, I never would have thought that would have been the case, and at the end of the season, looking back on it, it is a tough thing to do because the SAC is a grind,” Snider coach Kurt Tippmann said. “Because the SAC is as strong as it has ever been and as balanced as it has ever been, you have to be ready to go every Friday night. You can’t do that with a young team. It has to be a seasoned and veteran team and have veteran backups as well. That’s a large part of it.”

Sure, as many as four teams could contend for the 2013 title – Snider, North Side, Bishop Dwenger and Bishop Luers – but the dominance of the Panthers could also easily continue. Snider has won 14 SAC championships.

Since 1994, only four active schools have won the league title, Snider (nine times), Dwenger (six), Bishop Luers (three) and Northrop (once). The now-closed Harding won one year.

“Snider lost a lot but they will always be good,” Northrop coach Tim Martone said. “That was such a fantastic team (last year). We always look forward to playing them. Parity will be big this year. I see a lot of us coming together this year. I see a close race.”

The SAC is competitive, but not often at the top. It’s the rest of the league that’s usually bunched up. Last year, Bishop Luers and North Side were both 5-2, while Northrop and Bishop Dwenger were 3-4, South Side and Concordia were 2-5 and Wayne was 1-6.

“It’s always tough,” Concordia coach Tim Mannigel said of the league. “At the same time, our kids really welcome that. They love playing these teams because a lot of these guys they know, and they see them off the field. I look at this conference as the second-best conference in the state of Indiana. The players are good, the coaches are good, and there is great depth.”

Once mighty in the conference, the Saints are 7-7 in conference games the last two years.

“With what’s taken place in our program, we just have to be concerned about Game 1 more than the SAC,” Dwenger coach Chris Svarczkopf said.

The depth of the league can also be shown in state appearances, including Snider (5A) and Bishop Luers (2A) last year.

“It is really competitive,” Northrop senior Austin Pearson said of the SAC. “I have seen other conferences, and it doesn’t seem as competitive. Every year, it is big teams playing against each other, big rivalries, big everything.”

gjones@jg.net

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