IHSAA football: Can anyone beat Ben Davis? Here are a few candidates

Last updated: 10-31-2018

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IHSAA football: Can anyone beat Ben Davis? Here are a few candidates

INDIANAPOLIS –Is there anybody out there that can beat Ben Davis? Or at least make it a game?

As we enter the last week of the high school football regular season, the Giants (8-0) are the top-ranked team in the state in Class 6A and rising in the national rankings (No. 10 by MaxPreps and No. 16 by USA TODAY).

Ben Davis has defeated five top-10 teams by an average of 29.4 points per game. Impressive stuff. I’m going to give you seven teams that could beat Ben Davis (but won’t):

7. North Central: The Giants have already clinched the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference championship outright but have one regular-season game left Friday, at home against North Central. The last time North Central defeated Ben Davis, it was 2005. Rick Strieff (now at Cathedral) was coaching the Panthers and Tom Allen (Indiana head coach) was coaching the Giants. The Panthers are 3-5 and have lost four in a row, but could catch Ben Davis at the right time if they can move the ball consistently behind junior quarterback Liam Thompson. The only team to score more than 20 points on the Giants is Pike (in a 69-34 loss). Which brings us to …

6. Pike: The Red Devils are explosive and have one of the best quarterbacks in Central Indiana in Jordan Garrett (1,696 passing yards, 17 TDs and 390 rushing yards). The offense is producing more than 400 yards and 32 points per game. Could the defense hold down Ben Davis enough to give the offense a chance in a shootout? Pike is probably the favorite in Sectional 5, meaning the teams could meet in the regional.

5. Lawrence Central: There were some positives in last week’s 42-7 loss to Ben Davis. The Bears ran the ball with some success, particularly senior John Childs (18 carries for 96 yards). The teams will meet again in the first round of Sectional 6 on Oct. 27. Lawrence Central has to be able to hit some big plays in the passing game, which did not happen in the first meeting. It will be difficult for any defense — even this one with linebacker Cam McGrone and safety Manny Bellamy as playmakers — to hold Ben Davis under 24 or 28 points. If the Bears can run the ball and hit a few big plays in the passing game, they can try to play keep away.

4. Avon: Ben Davis has the most explosive offense in the state, but the Orioles might be No. 2. Quarterback Cameron Misner has 2,000 passing yards and 26 touchdowns and senior receiver Isaac Guerendo (40 catches, 994 yards, 12 TDs) is having a huge season. Avon can also run the ball with Sampson James (1,053 yards, 13 TDs) behind a strong offensive line. On the flip side, Ben Davis manhandled Avon 52-20 in the second week of the season. The Giants rolled up more than 500 yards of offense in that game and were never really slowed down by the Orioles. Avon did do some good things on offense in that game, particularly with James on the ground.

3. Fort Wayne Snider: The Panthers (8-0) have crept up to No. 2 behind Ben Davis in the Class 6A poll. Snider is averaging nearly 46 points per game with running backs Christian Covington and Anyis Lockett leading the way. Snider would not meet Ben Davis until a potential matchup in the 6A state finals at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Panthers have given up more than 30 points in a game three times this season, which might not bode well against the explosive Giants.

2. Center Grove: This might seem a little high for the Trojans, considering the 40-7 loss to Ben Davis on Sept. 8. But it was only a 13-7 game at halftime. Quarterback Reese Taylor and the Giants were excellent in the second half, moving the ball through the air with chunks of yardage at a time. The Trojans will have to run the ball and grind out drives, while also hitting on a few play-action passes. Stranger things have happened. Center Grove is only 4-4 but seems to find an extra something when the tournament begins. A potential rematch with Ben Davis would happen in the semistate.

1. Warren Central: Yes, the Warriors lost 45-16 at Ben Davis on Sept. 15. That is a big mountain to climb. But I still think this is the program that has the personnel this season to give Ben Davis its toughest game. Warren Central has quietly won three consecutive games since that loss to the Giants. Quarterback Jayden George has thrown six touchdown passes the past two weeks and junior Romeir Elliott (825 rushing yards, 15 TDs) is closing in on a 1,000-yard season. And there is an X-factor at receiver in junior David Bell (35 catches, 698 yards, five TDs). The defense will have to force some turnovers. These teams could meet in the Sectional 6 championship.

Could one of these seven teams knock off the Giants? Maybe. But I don’t see it happening.

Friday's MIC Network Game of the Week, presented by Central Indiana Honda Dealers, pits Lawrence Central against Carmel. The Bears are looking to rebound after a loss to Ben Davis and the Greyhounds are looking to stop a two-game losing streak. You can watch the game live at 7 p.m., Friday at indystar.com and on IndyStar's mobile app.


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