High-SchoolIndiana: Jake Jones

I previewed all the Class 5A regional contests yesterday with a game of "Contender or Pretender (or Chicken Tender)?," so you might have thought my work was done. But they pay me to make predictions (and clean the gunk out of the mouses), so here we go with picks for every game this weekend:

Class 5A regional championship picks

Carmel (11-1) at Ben Davis (10-2)
Friday, 7:00 p.m.
The Greyhounds get back to the ground game and run Ben Davis off the field.

Crown Point (9-3) at Penn (12-0)
Friday, 7:30 p.m.
Crown Point's defense hasn't faced an attack like Penn's yet. Penn is too explosive in this one.

Hamilton SE (11-1) at FW Snider (8-4)
Friday, 7:00 p.m.
The Royals will miss injured QB Jake Jones if Snider makes this a passing game.

Center Grove (8-4) at Bedford NL (9-3)
Friday, 7:00 p.m.
Keep an eye on Center Grove running back Logan Hutson. After he explodes tonight, I can say I told you so.

Class 4A, 3A, 2A, 1A after the jump

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By now, you've heard all you need to hear about Warren Central-Carmel. The teams played yet another instant classic, and Carmel was able to pull it out in the final minutes. That makes the Greyhounds the clear favorites in Class 5A, but what about the rest of the field? Let's take a quick look at the remaining squads and their chances of winning the 5A title. Note: These are snapshot rankings of the teams remaining in Class 5A, not to be confused with the POWERADE state rankings.

1. Carmel (11-1)
After defeating Warren Central, 34-30, on Friday night, the Greyhounds have cleared the biggest hurdle standing between them and a state championship. There are quality teams left in the way, including this weekend's opponent Ben Davis — but Carmel will be the better team in every matchup from here on out. That wasn't necessarily the case against Warren Central. I consider Carmel to be the best team standing, meaning their A-game will beat anyone else's A-game. Now that senior QB Brandon Denning has proven he can get it done through the air, the Hounds don't appear to have a weakness.

2. Penn (12-0)
The Kingsmen running game is a monster, but don't make the mistake of thinking Penn is one-dimensional. The quarterback tandem of senior Chad Gindelberger and sophomore Zach Oakley is extremely effective, and their contrasting styles could give Carmel serious trouble if the teams wind up meeting for the state championship.

3. Ben Davis (10-2)
The Giants lost to Carmel, 20-10, on Oct. 14, but since then they've beaten Zionsville, Brownsburg and Avon, in order. Those are three pretty good teams. Unfortunately, I think Carmel has elevated its game since the October meeting and expect a more lopsided score on Friday. So consider Ben Davis good, but not quite good enough this season.

4. Hamilton SE (11-1)
Some might discount Hamilton SE's chances a bit after senior QB Jake Jones suffered a broken leg on Friday, but I think the Royals are still in good shape with junior Ross Risley under center. Risley may not be able to hook up with senior WR Gary Harris as consistently as Jones, so running backs Ryan Ripp and Jamitreus Crockham will have to step up.

5. Crown Point (9-3)
Another team with an injury fill-in at quarterback, and like Hamilton SE, I still think Crown Point can be effective with sophomore QB Jake Jatis orchestrating the offense. Tristan Peterson, the Bulldogs' sophomore running back (himself an injury replacement), ran for 194 yards and four touchdowns last week.

6. Center Grove (8-4)
Senior Spencer Weeks has run for 1,202 yards and 13 touchdowns on the season, but in the past two weeks he's run for 62 and 76 yards on just 3.6 yards per carry. Can the Trojans fire up the running game again in time to advance this week?

7. FW Snider (8-4)
No disrespect to Snider's five consecutive sectional titles, but I would pick the six teams above them in a head-to-head matchup. Senior running back John Nelson is capable of taking over a game, however, so the Panthers can't be taken lightly.

8. Bedford NL (9-3)
Bedford NL stunned Castle last week, but I'm not sure the Stars will be able to keep it going. The Bedford NL defense picked off three passes against Castle, and turnovers are hard to produce on a consistent basis.

Think I'm ranking someone too low? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).

Week 6 fantasy: Start Paige, Weeks

September, 22, 2011
As part of our football coverage here, I offer up my hypothetical fantasy football picks every Thursday. Note: This league is completely made up. If you are in a high school fantasy football league, please seek professional help.


RB — Spencer Weeks, Center Grove
Center Grove has split carries between Weeks and sophomore Logan Hutson this season, but I think Weeks is in store for a big game against Lawrence North tomorrow. For the season, the senior has scored just four touchdowns to Hutson’s seven, but Weeks (6-1, 215) is the bigger back and should handle most of the goal line touches going forward.
Projection: 19 carries, 131 yards, 2 TDs

QB — Jake Jones, Hamilton SE
The Hamilton SE passing game has improved significantly over the past two weeks, and Jones looks comfortable throwing to his stable of talented receivers. For the season, he’s got 832 passing yards and seven touchdowns. Facing a Westfield team that allows 30 points per game, I think Jones will light it up in a big way tomorrow. Jones also provides some extra value as a runner (three TDs on the year).
Projection: 16 of 24, 225 yards, 3 TDs; 9 carries, 54 yards, 1 TD

WR — Mitchell Paige, Guerin Catholic
Averaging almost six catches per game, you can be pretty confident that Paige will see his share of touches against Greenwood tomorrow. A lot of Paige’s production came during one monster game against Lutheran on Sept. 2 (13 catches, 220 yards, 2 TDs), but he’s also consistent. And he gives you about 40 yards per game on the ground, too, which you can consider bonus points.
Projection: 6 catches, 110 yards, 1 TD; 4 carries, 35 yards, 0 TDs


QB — Joel Hirsch, Michigan City
Michigan City has struggled with its passing attack this season, and this week is not looking promising for Hirsch to snap out of it. The senior signal-caller will be going up against one of the state’s toughest defenses in Lake Central, which allows just 10 points per game. Lake Central has also intercepted 10 passes on the season, led by senior linebacker Tyler Szczecina, who has picked off four balls (returning all four for touchdowns).

* Projections based on 1 QB, 2 RB, 2 WR format; No PPR

Want to join my (nonexistent) Indiana high school fantasy football league? Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).