Stephen Dumeyer | Reporter
Is Avon’s football team the best in Indiana? This is a question four different ranking systems — AP Poll, Coaches Poll, MaxPreps Rankings, and the Sagarin Computer Model — have tried to figure out. The debate for the top spot is up to Avon, Brownsburg, Carmel, New Palestine, and Warren Central. Here’s why each team should (and shouldn’t) be No. 1 in the state.
For: Avon has beaten their first two opponents, which would seem inherent for any team that’s claimed to be the best in the state, but not every team in the conversation has a spotless record. After making a run to regionals last year that included topping Brownsburg in sectionals and Ben Davis in the regular season, Avon was ranked highly coming into the season. With a 48-14 steamrolling of Columbus North at Lucas Oil Stadium, and a rout of Ben Davis with a score of 41-17, Avon has proved they are a force to be reckoned with. The defense has led the team, setting up the offense for easy scores. In terms of college-bound talent, Avon has many good prospects, highlighted by senior Nathaniel James and junior Blake Fisher, committed to Washington State and Notre Dame, respectively. According to the AP poll and MaxPreps, Avon is first in the state, while the Coaches poll has the Orioles in second and Sagarin places them fourth.
Against: The Orioles haven’t had a particularly difficult schedule thus far, compared to the other schools on this top five list. Sagarin has Avon’s strength of schedule (SoS) at 23rd-toughest in the state, while according to MaxPreps, it’s been the 7th-most-difficult.
For: Brownsburg is sitting at 1-1, but their loss was a 38-17 game against St. Xavier out of Cincinatti, which is ranked 106th nationally. For reference, Avon is the highest-ranked team in Indiana and is ranked 186th nationally. Brownsburg also has Tulane commit Dane Middlebrook at defensive tackle; he is rated as the eighth best player in Indiana in the 2020 graduation class.
Against: Brownsburg does have a loss, and it’s hard to be the best team when you’ve only won half of your games. Brownsburg’s 29-24 win came against Ben Davis, a team Avon beat 41-17, a five-times-larger margin of victory.
For: Carmel suffered a loss week one to Louisville Trinity High School by a score of 41-14. Despite the score, this wasn’t a bad game for the Greyhounds as Trinity is the No. 1 team in Kentucky and ranked 103rd nationally. Carmel followed up the loss with a shutout over Noblesville, 37-0. The scoring came courtesy of their run game led by Dylan Downing, a three-star running back who is ranked the sixth-best prospect in the state. He went for 216 yards on 17 rushes and racked up two touchdowns.
Against: Obviously, the loss will be a blemish on their record for the rest of the season; however, there are some other underlying problems that could plague this team in the coming weeks. While the offense rode the back of Downing in their victory over Noblesville, they also followed him to defeat against week one. Downing had nine rushes for –18 yards along with a singular reception for –5 yards. Meanwhile, the passing game has completed all of 11 passes across two games with a meager 39.3% completion percentage. On defense, Cole Brevard, the No. 1 recruit in the state of Indiana, has been underwhelming, totaling just six tackles and failing to reach the quarterback once from the DT position. This offense will need to develop a second dimension if they want the title of the best team in Indiana
For: New Palestine has won both of its first two games, something that is fairly rare on this list, as it is only the second team (Avon) to have accomplished this feat. They rolled right over Kokomo en route to a 63-13 win in week one, before topping Center Grove 28-9 in week two. Running Back Charlie Spegal has racked up the yards, averaging 200 yards per game in the first two weeks and totaling seven touchdowns over half of the team’s total so far this season. Spegal has received offers from Army and Indiana State. The Dragons have managed to claim the top spot in the Sagarin ratings. Kyle King, No. 12 recruit in the 2020 class in the state of Indiana, has swarmed the field. King has totaled 14 tackles, a sack, and three hurries of the quarterback.
Against: New Palestine is a 5A team. This means they won’t face the same level of competition as the other teams in this list. While the Sagarin rankings put the Dragons’ SoS at 10th in the state, they also rate Center Grove as the fourth-best team in the state despite not winning a game. With wins over a winless team and another 5A team, New Palestine’s wins aren’t as impressive as they would hope. MaxPreps has their SoS at 46th-most-challenging in the state.
For: Warren Central is 1-1, right along with Brownsburg and Carmel. Their lone loss came at the hands of Louisville Trinity, which has plagued the best teams in Central Indiana thus far (they will play Cathedral later this season). The loss was by a score of 17-14 after leading 14-7 with under 10 minutes to play in the fourth quarter. They forced three turnovers as well as blocked a field goal in the game; however, this didn’t prevent the game-winning field goal from being knocked through the uprights. They showed much more ability against the Kentucky powerhouse than the Greyhounds of Carmel.
Against: While Warren Central played the same opponent as Carmel better than the Greyhounds did, they also played Center Grove worse than New Palestine did. The team also lacks any star power. They have no players in Rivals.com’s Rivals250 ratings for the 2020 or 2021 class as well as no one in the Indiana top 15 for 2020 and top 5 for 2021.
Avon has proved that they are a force to be reckoned with and their schedule has been harder than New Palestine’s. Between the two-win teams, Avon is the superior team. The strong defense has allowed the offense to remain masked to opponents who plan to study them for the next week. This element of surprise could come in handy later in the season to complement the stellar defense. While everyone may have a differing opinion about the “best” team, all five of these teams have made their case as a top contender.