Friday night was bait of catharsis. For the first time since covering a Lebanon-Brebeuf sectional championship game at Indianapolis Shortridge HS I was finally at a live sporting event again. Considering I go to a couple dozen baseball games each summer it was a hell of a drought. I did get to see a future Purdue lineman in Mahamane Moussa for Pike HS.
It was the season opener for the Red Devils and was covering them against my usual team, Zionsville. The Eagles entered as one of the top rated 5A teams in the state, while Pike is a solid 6A team. It was part of an informal Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference vs. Hoosier Crossroads Conference season opening challenge.
For the uninitiated, the MIC and HCC are the top two high school football conferences in the state. Since the Class 5A split a few years ago where Class 6A was formed with the 32 largest schools and 5A was left over with roughly the next 32 schools (The remaining four classes on down have roughly 64 schools each). 6A has been dominated by the MIC. All seven Class 6A title games have been won by an MIC teams (Carmel twice, Ben Davis twice, Warren Central twice, and Center Grove). Of the seven runners-up, six were from the MIC, with only Penn in 2017 ending Carmel’s northern semi-state dominance (and Carmel gets a MASSIVE break each year by getting sent to the northern half of 6A while the other 7 MIC teams are in a fight to the death in the southern half).
Each conference has eight schools and of those 16 teams, 15 are in Class 6A. Zionsville is an oddity, as they were in 6A last year during the first year of the two-year classification cycle, but the consolidation of Elkhart Memorial and Elkhart Central into one high school moved the new Elkhart High into 6A and bumped Zionsville down to 5A mid-cycle, putting them in the same sectional as Harrison, McCutcheon, and Kokomo.
The top six teams in Class 6A and seven of the preseason top 10 are in either the MIC or HCC, and Zionsville entered at No. 6 in the preseason 5A poll. Here is how the five MIC-HCC matchups went:
No.3 Brownsburg (HCC) 38, No. 5 Ben Davis (MIC) 7 - Preston Terrell for Brownsburg, Purdue’s first 2021 commit, had four catches for 40 yards.
Lawrence North (MIC) 62, NO. 4 Avon (HCC) 34 - Donoven McCulley, an IU commit Purdue recruited, threw for 248 yards and 4TDs and ran for 157 yards).
No. 10 North Central (MIC) 40, Fishers (HCC) 20
Hamilton Southeastern (HCC) 24, Lawrence Central (MIC) 0
Pike (MIC) 26, No. 6 (5A, HCC) Zionsville 24
As mentioned above, Pike-Zionsville had a definite Purdue interest. Pike featured Purdue offensive line recruit Mahamane Moussa. On the roster he was listed as 6’4” 280 pounds. He mostly lined up at left tackle, but we have seen coach Brohm be versatile with his offensive line guys., Given that Purdue’s current left tackle is a very good one in Grant Hermanns at 6’7”, 304 you would like to see his eventual replacement be a bit bigger than 6’4”, 280.
The Pike offense was up and down most of the night. They had a few big runs, but also quite a few mistakes. Pike played two quarterbacks and Anthony Ciadella was the far more effective one. He was 10 of 19 for 204 yards and 3 touchdowns while rushing for a TD. Overall Pike had 204 yards passing and 138 rushing. Isaiah Martin had 112 of their rushing yards. It is hard to grade out linemen because 1. I am watching so much else as a one-man stat crew and 2. I don’t know how to grade linemen, but I would qualify him as “effective”. There were no major issues with missed assignments. Zionsville didn’t have a major pass rush, but did get some plays in the backfield. I would say Moussa played pretty well.
Pike only led 6-3 at the half, but the offense got going with three second half touchdowns including one on a 50 yard pass play.
There were a few other players of interest though:
Kyran Montgomery - Pike - The four-star defensive end has been recruited by Purdue and even has a Purdue jersey on in his Rivals profile, but it seems we are out of the running. Too bad, too. He was a terror all night on the end. He was listed a 6’5”, 245 and his named was constantly getting called for getting into the backfield. He might have even been in on a critical play early, as Zionsville was leading 3-0 and had first and goal at the one, but fumbled it away. Pike then went on a 98-yard TD drive to take the lead for good. Top running back Colin Price was out for Zionsville, but Montgomery was a large reason the Eagles managed just three points in the first three quarters. They did get the offense moving late while Pike was playing prevent, but it was only a two-point game because Zionsville scored with two seconds left.
Gunnar Hartwig - Zionsville - Hartwig had an interesting game as a TE. The younger brother of Purdue freshman offensive lineman Gus Hartwig, Gunnar lined up at tight end and was pretty quiet until the fourth quarter. He finished with four catches for 60 yards and had a 24 yard TD, all in the fourth quarter. He is listed as a 6’3 205 pound junior, but could be more of a baseball prospect.
Zavier Simpson - Pike - Simpson only has interest from a couple of service academies and we have a ton of receivers, but he had a really good night with 5 catches for 71 yards and a touchdown.
A.J. Vinatieri - Zionsville - I am only putting this one down because, yes, he is the great Adam Vinatieri’s son. He is listed as junior and shocking was not the placekicker, as that was another junior by the name of Lucas Lodics. They are both taking over for Chris Freeman, who was a solid kicker and even walked on at Indiana this year. Vinatieri served as punter and did pretty well.