Keys to the Game: Warren Central at Carmel
Keys to the Game: Warren Central at Carmel
One of the best rivalries in IHSAA football will be renewed on Friday. 11 months ago, Warren Central claimed their ninth state title over the Carmel Greyhounds, 27-7. Since that night at Lucas Oil Stadium, the Warriors have continued their winning ways, while the Greyhounds are scrambling to put the pieces together before the state tournament starts in two weeks.
After pulling off a last-minute come-from-behind victory at Lawrence North, Warren Central is in position to clinch at least a share of the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference (MIC) title. A Warren Central win on Friday night would clinch back-to-back MIC titles, something the Warriors haven’t accomplished since they won back-to-back conference titles in 2010 and 2011.
Meanwhile, Carmel is mired in a two-game losing streak after coming up short at Ben Davis, 27-14. A fast start by Ben Davis, combined with uncharacteristic turnovers by the Carmel offense, led to the Greyhounds losing their second game in as many weeks. This is the first time the Greyhounds have lost back-to-back games since 2015.
Here’s how Warren Central and Carmel can come away with a win in this rematch of last year's 6A State Title game:
- Get to a Fast Start: Slow starts have plagued the Greyhounds over their last two games. In losses to North Central and at Ben Davis, Carmel only scored a combined 14 points in the first half. The defense hasn’t been free from blame either as they surrendered 20 first half points to Ben Davis last week. It’s no wonder that Carmel head coach John Hebert has been stressing the importance of getting off to a fast start on both sides of the ball this week.
- Limit the Big Plays: Warren Central has thrived at gaining yards in chunks this season. Their five longest plays from scrimmage this season are from 81, 66, 54, 53 and 45 yards. Carmel’s defense, and their ability to limit the big play, has historically been one of their biggest strengths, but they cannot have another performance like last week where they gave up 20 first half points to Ben Davis.
- Play a Complete Game: Carmel has typically played their best football in October and November, but they have yet to put together a complete game in all three phases this season. Despite not playing at their optimal performance, Hebert is far from discouraged. “It’s a little exciting, when you know you haven’t reached your peak,” Hebert said via conference call. Hebert is confident they have the talent in the locker room to play winning football in the most crucial part of the season.
- Control the Environment: Through seven games this season, Warren Central has failed to score a touchdown in the first half of four of those games. Granted, they are 3-1 in those scenarios, but the Warriors are heading into a raucous Carmel Stadium on Friday night against a team that’s desperate for a win. If the Warriors can set the tone with their physicality from the opening kick, that will go a long way in deciding the outcome of this game.
- Stay Disciplined on Defense: With Christian Williams making the transition from wide receiver to quarterback, Carmel offensive coordinator Aaron Hahn has been utilizing a lot of zone reads to take advantage of Williams’ athleticism. Warriors head coach Jayson West has high praise for Williams, saying he has good ball skills and a solid football IQ. Warren Central’s front seven will need to stay disciplined, read their keys at the line of scrimmage and not overrun their assigned gaps. Otherwise, Williams and the Greyhounds’ tailbacks will enjoy lots of open running lanes on Friday night.
- Make the Greyhounds One-Dimensional: Warren Central’s coaching staff was probably pouring through film of Carmel’s last game at Ben Davis, as the Giants limited the Greyhounds to 4.4 yards/carry, below their season average of five yards/carry. If the Warriors can take away the running game, that will make things very difficult for a Carmel offense that has been cycling through quarterbacks all season.
Prediction - Warren Central, 17-14
This game has been one of the great rivalries in IHSAA football. (To be fair, most of the great rivalries in the state consist of schools from the MIC). Since 2010, Warren Central has led the head-to-head series, 8-5, with the Warriors winning the last four matchups.
I expect a tight, low-scoring game that will come down to the final minutes. Carmel will play a much better game than they have in the last two weeks, but I believe Warren Central will get a late score and clinch their share of the MIC title.