The Journal Gazette
 
 
Friday, October 15, 2021 1:00 am

High School Football: Week 9

Knights, Panthers out to stake claim to SAC

VICTORIA JACOBSEN | The Journal Gazette

The Summit Athletic Conference does not have an official league championship game, but tonight's Week 9 matchup between Snider and Bishop Luers is about as close as Fort Wayne football fans ever get. 

Bishop Luers (8-0) is the top-ranked team in Class 2A, and a win over the Panthers (6-1) would give the Knights their first outright SAC title and first perfect regular season since 2011. 

Snider can still claim an outright title if it beats Bishop Luers and Carroll (7-1) loses against Wayne (2-6). If the Panthers and Chargers both win today, they would both share the conference title with Bishop Luers, as all three teams would finish with one loss and a split record against the two other one-loss teams. 

“There's no sugar-coating it, we started off with a team meeting yesterday after we lifted, and we told them straight up that this is the biggest game of the year – to this point,” Bishop Luers coach Kyle Lindsay said Tuesday. “There's no reason to deny that, or say that this is like any other week, because it's not.”

Not that being in the spotlight is anything new for the Knights: last season's Class 2A state runners-up played in “games of the week” against Carroll when the Chargers opened their new stadium, against defending SAC champ Homestead in Week 3 and against rival Bishop Dwenger in Week 7. They won all three by a combined 13 points, and each time came away victorious after a final defensive stand. 

But Snider coach Kurt Tippmann said the Class 5A No. 5 Panthers are also treating this week as a run-up to a championship game, and they are hoping to end that streak of dramatic Knights victories. Snider's Week 2 loss to a short-handed Carroll team seems like a long time ago now that the Panthers are on a five-game win streak, during which they've averaged 35.8 points a game and given up more than 20 points just once, in last week's 33-22 win over Bishop Dwenger. 

(Bishop Luers, meanwhile, is seventh in the state in scoring at 47.63 points per game.)

“As long as your team is working hard each week, you start to see good, quality things improve in the team. The speed of the execution, our offensive line getting off the ball, getting to the blocks, being more confident in who they block, it all equates to the offense running more proficiently,” Tippmann said. “Same thing with the quarterback, he's used to the same reads, he's quicker on the same reads, he's confident in the reads. The ball is more sure and going to where it's supposed to go. The receivers do a better job of running the route at the right depth, with good speed coming out of it.”

The last time two SAC teams still in the running for a league title played each other in Week 9 was in 2014, when Snider lost to Wayne, and the Panthers, Generals and Luers shared the SAC title with 6-1 league records. 

The current Snider and Bishop Luers senior classes have never won an SAC title (nor, for that matter, has Carroll's senior class). In fact, since the first IHSAA football state title games were played in 1973, the Knights have claimed 11 state titles, but just eight conference championships (including years in which the title was shared). 

“It makes the energy level in the weight room, even in school around the other students, so much more exciting. We're working that much harder out on the field,” said Bishop Luers quarterback Carson Clark, who last week became the SAC's all-time passing leader. “We've just got to approach it like any other game, and we'll be fine.”

One Snider Panther said he's also looking forward to what promises to be one of the most packed games at Bishop Luers in recent memory. 

“These are the games you live for. I know our team is ready,” Snider senior tight end Carter Wortman said. “One of our goals is to be playing our best football in Week 9, so this week is going to be a great test to see if we met that goal.”

vjacobsen@jg.net 

Schedule

(At 7 p.m. unless indicated)

Bishop Dwenger at Northrop

North at Concordia, canceled

Snider at Bishop Luers

South Side at Homestead

Wayne at Carroll

Angola at Eastside

Bellmont at East Noble

Bluffton at Lakeland, 7:30 p.m.

Churubusco at Fairfield

Garrett at Central Noble

Heritage at Jay County

Huntington N. at New Haven

Leo at DeKalb

Norwell at Columbia City

Prairie Heights at West Noble

Southern Wells at South Adams

Wabash at Whitko

Warsaw at Concord

Wawasee at Goshen

Woodlan at Adams Central

Saturday

Lake Station at Fremont, 1 p.m.


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