(Or from the high school reporters who take a week off from their weekly column to the ones who pound out one every week. In my defense, I had to help out in Cinci with coverage of our preseason game. The shot of Peyton/Collins looking over a chalkboard that you may have seen 20,000 times since Sunday night, that was mine!)
And with football weather finally coming upon us (we're looking at about an 30-40 degree drop at kickoff in just a seven day span), there's no time for excuses anymore.
It's time to play ball. Or find a new form of football to forget about the upcoming football season with the recent developments with Peyton's neck.
So as always, if you're wondering what games to check out, here are my picks for the top six games for week four of the 2011 IHSAA football season.
1. Class 5A #1 Warren Central (3-0) vs. #3 Ben Davis (3-0)
Talk about some star power here! The Warriors of Warren Central, fresh off a 55-7 whompfest over Lawrence North last Friday night, take their national titles hopes to a team that may just be as quick and talented as they are. During their last contest the Warriors gave star running back Deionte Buckley a break in his carrier (he only rushed 13 times for 146 yards) and let quarterback Kyle Faunce air the ball out a bit, going 13-13 for four touchdowns. One could argue it was the most complete game that Warren Central has played all season long, a confidence booster after the tough scare in the 27-24 victory over Class 4A Cathedral a week earlier.
Ben Davis continued their hopes in returning their proud program back to the heights it once achieved, blowing out undefeated North Central on the road 54-21. Former fullback and now quarterback in Matt Brock continues to improve each week, having gone 8-11 with two passing touchdowns for 129 yards, and Lamont Osborn has proven each week he has a nose for the endzone, peeling off three against the Wildcats. It's this offensive production that the Giants will need to keep up to have a shot at a Warren Central defense that has eight-plus Division One recruits, and shut out the Giants for the first time in 35 years with a 36-0 victory in 2010.
No matter the result you can almost bet these teams could run into each other come the post-season, but this is a game that rides high with Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference championship implications.
2. Class 2A #5 Speedway (3-0) vs. #6 Cardinal Ritter (3-0) (Lucas Oil Stadium, Saturday)
Nothing quite like Sectional rivals starting things up early on in the season! The Sparkplugs enter Saturday coming off a 64-20 victory over Beech Grove, with all cylinders of the passing and rushing game going at full throttle. Quarterback Austin Anglea threw for three touchdowns and got solid performances from wide receivers Justin Brent (99 yards) and and Michael Maloian (87 yards), the two combining for two touchdowns. But to continue the momentum from last year's sectional, Speedway is going to have to continue with that defense that has just allowed 11.7 yards per game.
Cardinal Ritter on the other hand is looking just as impressive in their undefeated start, and have found ways to hurt defenses in seperate approaches in different games. The Raiders defeated Heritage Christian in week one 45-28 thanks mostly to airing out the ball (Sophomore Jake Purichia threw for 254 yard and two touchdowns) while last week in a 41-0 victory over Lapel, Logan Beaman put 187 yards on the ground for three touchdowns himself.
The teams have split the past twelve decisions right down the middle at 6-6, so expect a close battle between these two teams.
3. Class 4A #2 Cathedral (1-2) vs. Class 3A #1 Bishop Chatard (3-0)
Since 1994 (the dates in which the great Football Homestead go back too), Cathedral has won this battle twelve of sixteen times. And yes, coming off a very impressive three weeks in which the Fighting Irish could very well be 3-0 against the likes of Ben Davis, Warren Central, and Centerville (the lone victory at 34-17), it wouldn't be that surprising to see Cathedral roll like they did last year in this game 31-7.
But you know what? Chatard has won their games by a combined score of 114-10 in three games, including a 35-3 victory over Roncalli last week. I mean, doesn't Cathedral have to bring their A-game, or the Class 3A favorites will be right on their heels, right?
4. South Bend Washington (3-0) vs. South Bend Adams (1-2)
For the sole reason that Gehrig Dieter of South Bend Washington, who set a national record with 437 receiving yards last Friday, is playing in full Nintendo mode right now. If you are in the South Bend area, skip the Penn game and go see him at least once this year.
5. Pike (2-1) vs. Lawrence Central (2-1)
Not much more could be asked for in a game that could definitely end up being the turning point in Conference Indiana. Pike seems to have finally gotte their pre-season jitters out of their system in week three with a 21-14 victory over a very good Southport squad, while Lawrence Central looked true to form in a 51-6 victory over Perry Meridian. The Bears are averaging 40.0 per game despite losing Mr. Football in Tre Roberson due to graduation, so it'll be interesting to see if the Red Devils defense is ready to step up to the challenge.
6. Kankakee Valley (0-3) vs. Hobart (1-2)
Props to my Hobart Brickies for putting on a fight against Griffith in a 21-14 loss, but I think the Ryan Turley led boys in purple and gold are due to snap their two-game losing streak this Friday night against Kankakee Valley. In fact, if they don't, I may not put them in this space next Friday, you have to earn it boys!