As we head into Week 8, we have clear idea of the favorite in the SAC, where Homestead holds the tiebreaker over Bishop Dwenger, and the ACAC, where Class A No. 1 South Adams has thwarted every challenger in its path.
The NE8 could be decided tonight, when Leo (6-1, 5-0 in conference) hits the road to duke it out with Columbia City (6-1, 4-1 NE8).
1. Homestead (6-1): The Spartans took over the title of scariest large school in the area with a triple overtime win over Bishop Dwenger in Week 4, but last week's 70-point offensive explosion against Carroll showed that the Spartans have put it all together. Last week quarterback Evan Ormsby set school records for most passing yards and total touchdowns (8) in a single game, Nate Anderson broke the record for most receiving yards with 230, and Braeden Hardwick set the record with 287 rushing yards. Watch out.
2. Bishop Dwenger (6-1): The more time goes by, the more impressive it is that the Saints held Homestead to just 14 points in regulation. They've allowed more than two touchdowns in regulation just once – to Carroll, which is averaging 49.4 points per game. And while the Bishop Dwenger offense might not be as flashy as some of the others in the SAC, it's solid: quarterback Brenden Lytle is completing 64.5% of his passes and thrown just one interception. The Saints are almost perfectly balanced between passing yards (171.3) and rushing (158.1), and six different players have run in touchdowns.
3. South Adams (7-0): For those of you who haven't seen the Starfires, they're not “good for the ACAC” or “good for Class A.” They're straight up good. The biggest concern is that with so many players playing both ways, injuries could prove costly. South Adams currently has no opponent for Week 9, which would give the Starfires some extra time to heal ahead of the sectional tournament.
4. Eastside (6-1): The Blazers finally lost, but it was against hasty fill-in opponent Concord (a Class 5A team with a 4-2 record) in overtime. That doesn't lessen confidence that Eastside, which didn't allow a single point in September, will do damage in the Class 2A playoffs.
5. Leo (6-1): The Lions got their fourth shutout of the season, beating Huntington North 21-0 last week. If they defeat Columbia City, the NE8 title race will be tied.
6. Warsaw (6-1): The Tigers are one of just three teams in the Northern Lakes Conference with a winning record. Warsaw has already beaten Northridge (5-1) and has Concord waiting in Week 9.
7. Carroll (5-2): The Chargers are averaging the fifth-most points of any team in the state, but the defense has been disappointing in big games. Missed tackles cost Carroll dearly against Bishop Dwenger, and allowing record-breaking performances by Homestead is a huge concern, especially if they see the Spartans again in the playoffs.
8. Columbia City (6-1): The Eagles lost 27-10 last week to East Noble. They can put themselves right back into the conference picture against Leo, but they have given up 59 points in the last two weeks, a worrying development.
9. Norwell (6-1): Despite being soundly beaten by Leo in Week 3, the Knights have enjoyed a huge win over New Haven, a comeback win over East Noble and a 50-0 drubbing of DeKalb. They are now tied for 10th in the Class 3A coaches poll and are eighth in the media poll.
10. Adams Central (5-2): South Adams has essentially sewn up the conference title, so the Flying Jets now look to the playoffs for revenge. If that sounds like a long shot after the 29-9 loss to the Starfires in Week 6, well, they flipped the tables against South Adams after an even bigger regular-season loss last year.
11. Angola (4-1): The Hornets bounced back from their first loss by clocking South Bend Clay 49-0.
12. Bluffton (6-1): The Tigers get overlooked as the third team in the ACAC standings, but they still have just one loss, to South Adams, albeit by a score of 60-7.
13. North Side (3-4): The Legends got a much-needed 49-6 victory over rival South Side last week. It was the first time the North Side defense had held an opponent to single-digits all season. The Legends finish off the season against Northrop and Concordia. The Legends have the talent to win either or both of those games, and whether or not they do will go a long way to determining if this year was a step forward for North Side or a big opportunity left on the table.
14. East Noble (4-3): The Knights halted a three-game slide with a 27-10 win over Columbia City last week. A conference title is now out of the question, but finishing in the top half of the league and making a run in sectionals most certainly isn't, especially if Rowan Zolman is back and ready to perform.
15. Snider (4-3): Look who's back in the winning-record club! The Panthers always seemed like a team that would improve as the season went on. They blew out Northrop to keep the decades-long winning streak alive. Bishop Dwenger will be a tougher test this week, but they hope some of that improvement will be on display again.