The Journal Gazette
Friday, October 16, 2020 1:00 am

JG Top 15

Spartans remain top team

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

Week 9 is here already, but don't expect this year's regular-season finale to be too drama-filled. The local conference races are largely decided, and it would take shocking upsets to shake up the playoff picture.

So while we're waiting to see if any happen, let's rank the teams based on their seasons so far.

1. Homestead (7-1): The Spartans are one win away from a second straight SAC title. No offense to South Side (1-7), but an Archers' win today would be the upset of the century.

2. Bishop Dwenger (7-1): The Saints were tested last week against Snider (4-4), as they trailed heading into the fourth quarter and scored two touchdowns. But they held the Panthers to just one touchdown.

3. South Adams (8-0): The No. 1 team in Class A doesn't have a Week 9 opponent, so the Starfires have already clinched their second straight ACAC title and an undefeated regular season. 

4. Leo (7-1): The Lions knocked off the last serious contender for the NE8 title last week with a 21-7 victory over Columbia City. Now all that stands in the way of a perfect NE8 record is DeKalb (1-4). 

5. Eastside (7-1): The Blazers got back to their dominant ways with a 42-7 win over Central Noble last week. Eastside has effectively shut down other small schools all season, but the Blazers will get their second shot at a larger school in class 4A Angola today. 

6. Norwell (7-1): Yes, the Knights' D is dominant. But they've also scored at least 30 points in six of the eight games they've played. A win over Columbia City would show that they are the clear No. 2 in the NE8. 

7. Carroll (6-2): Until last week's game against Concordia, Carroll had played in two types of games: Games in which the Chargers scored at least 42 points and games that they lost. But Carroll met the Concordia defense and persevered 24-14. 

8. Adams Central (5-2): The Flying Jets did not play last week as a precaution after several COVID-19 cases among the student body but will be back on the field against Woodlan.  

9. Warsaw (6-2): The Tigers lost 22-21 to NorthWood last week but remain tied with Northridge at 5-1 at the top of the Northern Lakes Conference.

10. Angola (5-1): The Hornets have one last chance to impress before the postseason as they close out their NECC slate with a visit from Eastside. 

11. Snider (4-4): Nobody likes moral victories, especially teams that are used to regular victories. But the Panthers held Bishop Dwenger to a field goal for the first three quarters last week, giving a blueprint for how other teams might be able to slow the Saints. 

12. East Noble (5-3): After three straight losses, the Knights seem to have righted themselves with back-to-back victories over Columbia City and New Haven. 

13. Columbia City (6-2): The Eagles' dream season has hit East Noble- and Leo-shaped roadblocks the last two weeks. But Columbia City can prove it belongs in the top tier of the NE8 with a win over Norwell.

14. Bluffton (7-1): The Tigers have already matched their win total from 2018 and 2019. A win over Lakeland would give Bluffton eight victories, its most since a 10-1 season in 1982. 

15. Concordia (4-4): Plenty has been said about Concordia's defense before, but let's take another look: Kam Vanderbosch and Brayden Payne each have four interceptions, and the Cadets have combined for a whopping 13 interceptions. Concordia has recovered 11 fumbles, for an average of three turnovers by the defense every game. 

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