High-SchoolIndiana: Langston Newton

Warren Central-Carmel: IHSAA-mageddon

November, 4, 2011
If it seems like we were here just a month ago, you're downright crazy. It was actually 35 days ago that the top two teams in the state squared off, with Warren Central pulling out a 22-20 victory on a last-second field goal. Now the two juggernauts are back in the sectional finals, and the winner of this game is most definitely the favorite to win the Class 5A state crown.

The Game:
No. 1 Warren Central (10-0) at No. 2 Carmel (9-1)
Friday, 7 p.m.

The Players:
Warren Central — The Warriors can play any type of game. The offensive line is among the best in the state, so if Warren Central wants to grind it out, they can hand the ball to senior RB Deionte Buckley (1,439 yards, 26 TDs) or junior RB Shaquille Breeding (752 yards, nine TDs). If they want to throw it, senior QB Kyle Faunce has been steady all season (69.1 percent, 19 TDs, five INTs) and senior WR Kevin Davis is a big play waiting to happen (711 yards, 10 TDs). Put it all together and you see why Warren Central is averaging 44.7 points per game. On defense, it all starts up front with senior DT Sheldon Day. The Notre Dame recruit has nine sacks on the season, and he's flanked by talent on both sides. Behind him, junior LB Tim Kimbrough has made 92 tackles and recorded 6.5 sacks (second-most on the team).

Carmel — If there's one team that can match Warren Central's nasty defense, it's the Greyhounds. Carmel has allowed just 10.5 points per game this year, including four shutouts. The D-Line is led by senior Langston Newton, a Kentucky recruit, who can blow up running plays and get after the quarterback. Senior DE Shawn Heffern is an Indiana commit who can cause problems as well. On offense, Carmel isn't quite as multiple as Warren Central. The passing game isn't quite as diversified, but it's still effective. Senior QB Brandon Denning has had a great season, but he's more of a threat to hold onto the ball and make plays with his legs. The Greyhounds also have one of the best running backs in the country in senior Jalen Duncan.

The Stakes:
The winner of this game will have eliminated its biggest competition for the Class 5A state championship. Bring this one home and follow the path to the Lucas Oil Stadium.

The Prediction:
Coming into the season, I had Warren Central pegged as the best defense in the state. But I was wrong — Carmel's D has proven to be the best over the course of the season. In the Week 7 matchup between these teams, Carmel held Warren Central to 111 yards passing and picked off a pass, and I don't think that was a fluke. With no big plays through the air, this game will turn into another low-scoring, grind-it-out battle of wills. I've been riding the Jalen Duncan train all season, and I'm not about to jump off now. He ran for 151 and two touchdowns in the first meeting, and I think he's going to do even bigger things tonight. Duncan finds the end zone twice and the Carmel defense makes it hold up with their best performance of the season.

To see all the picks from the rest of Class 5A, click here.

Think I got it wrong? Tell me about it on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).
With the biggest game of the regular season on tap for Friday night, I figured I'd roll out an all-Warren Central-Carmel version of our weekly football Stock Watch. Currently No. 1 and No. 2 in our Indiana POWERADE rankings, both teams are 6-0, both sport relentless defenses, and both are loaded with playmakers on offense.


UP — Deionte Buckley, Warren Central RB
The Warriors' running game didn't lose a beat when Buckley went out with a concussion two weeks ago, but they sure are glad to have him back. The senior returned last week against Terre Haute North and ran for 85 yards and three touchdowns, giving him 606 yards and 11 TDs on the season. With Buckley running strong, Warren Central's offense should be operating at peak efficiency against Carmel.

DOWN —Jonathan Burt and Josh Posley, Warren Central DEs
Warren Central has one of the most talented defensive lines in the country, led by senior DT Sheldon Day (six sacks). But for some reason, Posley and Burt haven't been filling up the stat sheet this season. Burt and Posley have combined for just three sacks, and with Day drawing so much attention, you'd think the two Cincinnati recruits could create more pressure off the edges. They have been solid against the run, however, which may end up being more important against Carmel on Friday.

UP — Langston Newton, Carmel DE
Coming into the season, Warren Central's defense received a lot of hype. And while the Warriors have been spectacular on D, Carmel may be even better. The Greyhounds have already shut out three opponents, including the last two weeks. Newton is a big part of that, as the 6-foot-4 defensive end has been virtually unmovable at the line of scrimmage. Look for Warren Central to run to the side opposite Newton.

DOWN — Chris Perkins, Carmel RB
Perkins burst onto the scene in Week 1, going over 100 yards in his first game as a varsity player. But since then, the Greyhounds' running game has leaned more on senior RB Jalen Duncan and senior QB Brandon Denning. Perkins is a good long-term option, but in such a huge game, expect Carmel to keep going with what's been working — the veterans.