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The Journal Gazette

Friday, September 07, 2018 1:00 am

Top 15

SAC remains open at top

Dan Vance | For The Journal Gazette


(All games at 7 p.m. unless indicated)

Carroll at Northrop

Bishop Dwenger at Homestead

Bishop Luers at Concordia

Snider at South Side

Wayne at North Side

DeKalb at East Noble

Huntington North at Columbia City

Leo at New Haven

Norwell at Bellmont

Jay County at Adams Central

South Adams at Heritage

Southern Wells at Monroe Central, 7:30 p.m.

Woodlan at Bluffton

Central Noble at Prairie Heights

Churubusco at Eastside

Fremont at Pittsford (MI)

Lakeland at Garrett

West Noble at Angola

Wawasee at Concord

Elkhart Memorial at Warsaw

Rochester Whitko

After three weeks, six teams still have a legitimate claim at being the best team in the SAC.

No big deal, or is it? In what could be the most wide-open city conference race ever, five of those teams face must-wins tonight.

That is unless you are of the school of thought that a two-loss team could win the conference.

The first third of the season has showcased that nobody should get comfortable as the race to be the area's top team is far from over and a lot of teams have the chance to win on any given Friday night.

1. Bishop Dwenger

To be the man, you have to beat the man and nobody has figured out the Saints as of yet as they head into the tough stretch of their schedule. This team must limit turnovers and find a comfort zone in its first real test tonight opposite Homestead. Can Dwenger surpass expectations? We don't know that yet.

2. Carroll

Gaven Vogt has set a standard for area quarterbacks, and Week 4 should be another big number week. The Chargers sit a single point short of being undefeated yet remain quite overlooked in the up-and-down SAC race.

3. Homestead

The Spartans have been in a lot of dogfights already, so they are battle-tested. That could be to their advantage against Bishop Dwenger. Something else that helps: 1,696 all-purpose yards this season for the Spartans compared with just 956 for the Saints. Homestead moves the chains.

4. Bishop Luers

Let Norman Knapke get in on this top area quarterback conversation. To be the quarterback that outdoes Homestead is a big deal. But with wins over Carroll and Homestead and a loss to Wayne, the Knights may still be the conference's biggest riddle.

5. Wayne

Craig Young's breakout game of the year ended up being one of survival for the Generals. But what they take away most is confidence that will continue to grow in droves as they try to crash North Side's Homecoming tonight. The last thing opponents want is for Wayne to get confident and comfortable.

6. Angola

Did you know that the Hornets' quarterback has run for over 500 yards? Jarrett Gibson has stung everyone who has gotten in his way, and he has Angola looking like a worldbeater. The NECC big division is likely on the line tonight against West Noble.

7. Snider

You can tell a lot about a team by its ability to deal with adversity. And Snider's positive answer to its first loss was an emphatic one. This team isn't done in the SAC race just yet, and it is screaming it loudly right now.

8. Concordia

Both the Cadets offense and defense were concerning in a big loss to Snider. Concordia is still trying to figure itself out without room to breathe in the process. A meeting with Bishop Luers is consistently one of the SAC's best, so Concordia has to bounce back quickly.

9. Adams Central

A win over Lapel last week was a good measuring stick for the Flying Jets because nobody else in the ACAC looks to be stacking up so high. They are their conference's best right now, but can they get better?

10. East Noble

Bailey Parker is getting consistent just in time for the heart of the Knights' NE8 schedule, coming off a 17-of-24 passing game. An offensive duel with DeKalb awaits, but Parker's poise could continue to be a difference-maker.

11. South Adams

An ACAC opening win over Bluffton was a statement. But the loss of Nic Stuber to a season-ending ACL injury throws the Starfires' conference title hopes into question. If there is a week to establish a replacement for Stuber, this is it.

12. Northrop

The more things change in the SAC, the more they stay the same for the Bruins, who are putting up points in bunches but struggling to stop the teams. Athleticism overflowed from Davieun Berry in the one-point loss to Wayne.

13. Leo

Learning about Leo has been a challenge, but all that needs to be known will be known in the next two weeks. The Lions have never won a game at New Haven but must tonight to assert that they really are at the top of the NE8.

14. Churubusco

Sophomore Jake Fulk and junior Parker Curry have been dynamite defensively and made the Eagles the leader in the NECC's small division. Bruiser football is being played at its best in Busco right now.

15. New Haven

The Bulldogs still have to fight out of a hole they dug to start the season by adjusting to a pass game more without Stephen Owens to run the ball. Tim Jordan's 21-of-40, 373-yard game in a win over DeKalb established just that. Can they keep it up opposite Leo?