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Monday, October 31, 2011
Football playoffs: Sectional semifinal review

By By Mike Grimala

Two rounds into the IHSAA postseason, it's time to re-evaluate what we know about the 2011 season. Join me as I play the game that's taking America by storm, "Contender or Pretender (or Chicken Tender)?"

CONTENDERS

Winner of Friday's Warren Central-Carmel game: No. 1 Warren Central won on a last-second field goal when these teams squared off in the regular season, but No. 2 Carmel was right there. Whoever wins this game will be my official pick to go all the way in Class 5A (a bold statement, I know).

Penn: After going 9-0 in the regular season, the Kingsmen have stomped their first two sectional opponents by a combined score of 100-28. Up next is FW Carroll, a respectable team but not a true "Contender."

Gunner Kiel and Columbus East: The state's most famous player has been on fire lately, and the rest of the Kielers have raised their game as well. A 27-17 win over East Central pushed Columbus East into the sectional finals, where a good but beatable Franklin County team is waiting.

PRETENDERS

Lawrence Central: The Bears entered their showdown with Carmel having won their last five games by an average score of 46-7. But that momentum meant little against Carmel, as Lawrence Central was bounced, 35-7. The 9-2 record on the season looks nice, but I was expecting a better showing in the playoffs.

CHICKEN TENDERS

Brownsburg's killer instinct: After taking a 24-7 lead into the fourth quarter against Ben Davis, it looked like Brownsburg would end up in the "Contender" section this week. After giving up a touchdown, allowing an onside-kick recovery and another touchdown to make it 24-21, it looked like the Bulldogs would settle for a "Pretender" spot by virtue of holding on for a shaky win. Instead, Ben Davis finished off the rally and eventually won, 38-31, in double overtime. That dropped Brownsburg all the way down to "Chicken Tender" status, which is not where anyone aspires to be.

Want to play "Contender or Pretender (or Chicken Tender)?" Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).