Columbus North football coach Tim Bless had three wishes when Conference Indiana revamped its football schedule for next year.
1) Don’t play the Terre Haute schools back-to-back.
2) Don’t play Bloomington South and Southport back-to-back.
3) Don’t play Bloomington South or Southport the last game of the regular season.
The Panthers and Cardinals typically are the Bull Dogs’ toughest tests in the conference. Next year, North will close the regular season at Terre Haute South.
“The last several years, they’ve been powerhouses, and having such a backloaded schedule was tough,” Bless said. “We were potentially going into the tournament beat up after two very competitive games. Obviously, that’s all subject to change because teams run in cycles, but that’s no longer the case.”
Next year, North will open conference play in Week 3 at Southport, the team with which it usually ends the season. The Bull Dogs then will play two non-conference games, hosting Roncalli and visiting Guerin Catholic in Weeks 4 and 5.
Roncalli and Guerin are replacing Franklin Central and Perry Meridian on the schedule, both of which are leaving Conference Indiana. The Flashes are headed to the Hoosier Crossroads Conference, while the Falcons are going to the Mid-State Conference.
Columbus North has played Terre Haute South and Terre Haute North in Weeks 5 and 6 since the Braves and Panthers entered the conference in 2013. While one of those varsity games always at home and the other on the road on a Friday night, the JV games the next day were at the opposite place.
“For the varsity kids, that’s not too bad of a deal because you only have to travel once,” Bless said.
“But for the JV kids and a lot of my coaches, they had to make that two-hour trip back-to-back weeks.”
Meanwhile, Columbus East will have a slight change in its football schedule next year. Instead of opening with Bloomington North, as it has the past six years, the Olympians will open with Whiteland.
North girls hosting tourney
Columbus North girls basketball coach Pat McKee could have given his team a much easier path to the finals of the eight-team Subway/Columbus North Invitational.
Instead, McKee has his team on the same side of the bracket as three other schools having tremendous seasons. The Bull Dogs (10-2) will open tournament play at 6 p.m. today against Class 3A No. 8 Beech Grove (9-1).
North’s second-round game will be against either 3A No. 1 Northwestern (13-1) or Evansville North (10-1). The first-round losers play at 10 a.m. Friday, followed by the winners at 11:45 a.m.
“(Northwestern is) really good, but Evansville North is good, too,” McKee said. “Nobody can say, ‘Well golly, they gave themselves the easy draw.’ We’re playing good teams, and that’s what we want to do.”
In the bottom half of the bracket, Center Grove (10-2) will face Terre Haute North (3-11) and Mooresville (7-6) will play Elkhart Central (10-5), both at 7:45 p.m. today.
The fifth- and seventh-place games will be at 3:30 p.m. Friday. The third-place game is scheduled for 5:15 p.m. Friday, followed by the championship at 7 p.m.
East looks to defend title
The Columbus East girls will look to defend their championship in the Rumble on the River event at Southwestern (Hanover).
The Olympians received a first-round bye and will play their opener at 5 p.m. Friday against the winner of Friday morning’s Connersville-Scottsburg game. Win or lose, East will play two games on Saturday.
The Olympians will play in a semifinal or consolation game at 10 a.m. Saturday. The placement round will follow.