Conference title races heat up tonight

It’s only four games into the conference season, but when Columbus East hosts Floyd Central tonight it ultimately could decide the Hoosier Hills Conference championship.

The Olympians and the Highlanders are the only 3-0 teams in the HHC and the only 2-1 teams, Jennings County and Bedford North Lawrence, face off tonight. That means that after tonight’s play, five of the eight conference teams will have two or more losses.

East and Floyd Central have one common opponent so far, Seymour. The Olympians beat the Owls 69-12 while the Highlanders beat the Owls 35-20. The past three seasons East has beaten Floyd Central by a combined 174-44.

While East figures to put a lock on another conference title, Columbus North (4-1 overall) is hoping to remain in the run for a Conference Indiana title when it travels to Terre Haute North (2-1 conference, 3-2 overall). Columbus North and Bloomington South, both 3-0, are the only unbeaten teams in the conference.

Last year, the Conference Indiana race was a jumble going into the final weeks but Columbus North and Bloomington South seem to be separating from the pack as they head toward an Oct. 9 showdown.

Durnig the next week, No. 8-ranked 6A Columbus North will face both Terre Haute North and Perry Meridian, both which go into tonight’s play 2-1. So the Bull Dogs really could separate themselves from the rest of the pack.

The last time Columbus North went unbeaten in conference play was the 2004 season.

Looking at the race for state championships, Center Grove continues to roll in 6A action, going 5-0 with wins against powerhouses such as Warren Central, Carmel and Ben Davis. Center Grove’s final regular-season hurdle would appear to be its game against Cathedral on Oct. 16.

Columbus North and Center Grove are destined to meet in the sectional.

In the 5A class, No. 1-ranked New Palestine continues to smash its opponents, crushing Pendleton Heights 84-17 last Friday. No one has held New Palestine under 56 points this season.

Columbus East is ranked No. 2 behind New Palestine in the Coaches’ Poll and is No. 3 in the AP Poll behind New Palestine and Fort Wayne Snider. Bloomington South is No. 3 in the Coaches’ Poll and No. 4 in the AP Poll.

I’m now at 24-6 for the season going into this week’s picks.

Columbus East 56, Floyd Central 13 — The Olympians’ defense has been spectacular and tonight should be no different. Look for Floyd Central to be unable to move the football until the Olympians put enough points on the board to bring in the second unit.

Columbus North 41, Terre Haute North 20 — A couple of high-scoring teams but the Bull Dogs have the better defense. It’s a long trip for Tim Bless’ team, but it should be a happy ride home.

Jennings County 21, Bedford North Lawrence 20 — Two programs that are making positive strides this season. This was is virtually a coin toss and the Stars have the home field advantage, but I have a hunch that the Panthers will find a way to come out on top.

Brown County 35, Cloverdale 20 — Just what the Eagles needed, a little mid-season burst of optimism provided by an 0-5 opponent.

South Decatur 29, Park Tudor 27 — Park Tudor was 0-5 a year ago when it crushed the Cougars, so this one is eerily similar. However, the Cougars seem to be headed in a better director as a program.

Brownstown Central 51, Seymour 19 — Brownstown Central ripped the Owls 75-14 last season. Ouch.

Oldenburg 44, Edinburgh 35 — The Lancers finally got a taste of victory last week, but this is a tougher assignment.