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Good football in our own backyardPosted Monday, October 24, 2011, at 3:49 PM
Some would argue it's a bad year for football in the great state of Indiana.
It's sad times in Bloomington. It's pretty bad in West Lafayette. It's not terrible in South Bend, but the Golden Domers have a knack for -- cough, cough, cough -- giving the ball to the other team.
And let's not even get into the trainwreck that is the Colts. I'll only say this, if I had an MVP vote, it might go to Peyton Manning, even though he hasn't played a snap.
Why don't we put our focus a little closer to home. Take a look at the records of our high school teams. They have a combined record of 28-12, a remarkable winning percentage of .700. Additionally, three of the four squads will still be alive for sectional semifinal action this Friday.
It's a good year to be a fan of Putnam County high school football.
First we'll talk about Greencastle. While it's true that the Tiger Cubs (7-3) are the only school in the county whose season has ended, it took No. 1-ranked Bishop Chatard to knock them out.
But GHS had a remarkable year. I haven't seen a school of this size able to move the ball through the air like this in a long time. Besides Chatard, the only losses on the GHS schedule were in back-to-back weeks against strong county rivals South Putnam and North Putnam.
In fact, GHS, South and North have combined to lose only five games this year, and only two of those losses were to non-county opponents.
I look forward to see what coach Josh Buis does with the Greencastle program in the future.
In Cloverdale, it hasn't necessarily been a gold star year with the Clovers sitting at 3-7. However, coach John Butler has them into the second round of the tournament for the first time since 2006.
A big win over Riverton Parke has the Clovers bound for North Vermillion Friday night for a matchup with the Falcons (5-5). Can they make the sectional finals? It's hard to say, but I will say that playing all year in the West Central Conference against 2A and 3A opponents has the Clovers well prepared for the competition in their Class A sectional.
I've had the chance to see South Putnam (8-2) in person twice this year. Once was a week two loss to Tri-West and the second was last week's 61-0 rout of South Vermillion.
While the levels of competition in those two games were worlds apart, I saw a different Eagles team each time. Plagued by turnovers in week two, Troy Burgess's squad has put many of those problems behind them. They also showed impressive discipline in committing two penalties for just 15 yards against the Wildcats.
And it's always fun to watch a player like Rob Gibson, who is the focal point of the Eagle offense. Seeing other teams try to contain someone so fast and elusive is always loads of fun.
Finally, what can you say about North Putnam? After a trip to the state finals last year and a coaching change, was this year supposed to be a step backward? It hasn't worked out that way at all.
First-year coach Brian Crabtee has the Cougars sitting at 10-0, having guided them through their fifth 9-0 regular season in the last six years.
The Cougars are ranked third in 2A and have to be considered one of the favorites to return to Lucas Oil Stadium on the day after Thanksgiving. With a senior class heavy with playmakers, the Cougars look primed for another deep run.
Their first-round matchup with No. 5 Speedway was supposed to be a clash of the titans, but the Sparkplugs failed to get the memo, falling to the Cougars 48-10.
Standing between us and another all-Putnam County sectional final (North Putnam and Greencastle played last year) are a pair of private Indianapolis schools. South Putnam visits Park Tudor (3-7), while North Putnam hosts Cardinal Ritter (8-2) in the semifinals of Sectional 30.
Time will tell if county fans get their dream matchup, but we have to believe it's a strong possibility.
Whatever happens in the coming weeks, it's been a fun year to follow these four schools. Get out there and enjoy some of these games, football fans. You're doing yourselves a disservice if you sit at home.
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Jared Jernagan is a 2003 graduate of Wabash College and has been in journalism since 2005.