High-SchoolIndiana: Sheldon Day

Kiel wins Gatorade POY

December, 1, 2011
Gunner Kiel came into the season as the favorite to win the Gatorade State Player of the Year award, and the Columbus East quarterback fulfilled those predictions and then some. The Gatorade panel announced the winners today, and Kiel was named the 2011 winner for Indiana.

Kiel, the No. 20 player in the ESPNU 150, passed for 2,517 yards and 28 touchdowns this season while throwing just four interceptions. Kiel was working with a mostly new receiving corps, but his game preparation and his cerebral approach allowed him to bring the group together very quickly. Columbus East went 12-2 on the season and reached the Class 4A semifinals.

There were other contenders for the award, including SB Washington senior receiver Gehrig Dieter (2,171 yards, 25 touchdowns) and Warren Central senior defensive tackle Sheldon Day (36 tackles, nine sacks), but none were as valuable to their team as Kiel. If I had a vote for the Gatorade award, I would have gone with Kiel as well.

To read the complete rundown of Kiel's credentials, click here.

To see all the Gatorade POY winners for every state, click here.

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).
Well, it's finally here — the Game of the Year for Indiana football (regular season edition). No. 1 Warren Central vs. No. 2 Carmel. Both teams are 6-0, both have state title aspirations, and both would like to make a statement tonight.

The Game:
No. 2 Carmel vs. No. 1 Warren Central
Friday, 7:30 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium

The Players:
Carmel — The Greyhounds rely on an explosive ground game to blow opponents away. Once the Carmel offensive line starts firing downhill, a stable of stud runners like RB Jalen Duncan, RB Chris Perkins and QB Brandon Denning are able to make huge plays.

Warren Central — If there's one defense in the state that could slow down the Carmel O-Line, it's Warren Central. Senior DT Sheldon Day is the best player in the state, and he's got talented teammates like DE Josh Posley and DE Jonathan Burt focused on stopping the run.

The Stakes:
Uh, this is kind of self-explanatory. It's No. 1 vs. No. 2, what more do you want? One of these teams will most likely be playing for the 5A state title at the end of the year.

The Prediction:
Both defenses are dominant, but I think in the end, Warren Central's offense is a little more well-rounded. The Warriors' strength is running it with Deionte Buckley and Shaquille Breeding, but they can also throw the ball with QB Kyle Faunce and WR Kevin Davis. I don't think Carmel will be able to pick up as many third-down conversions tonight, allowing Warren Central to win time of possession and eventually the game.

Other notable games:

No. 3 Ben Davis at No. 6 Center Grove
Friday, 7 p.m.
If it weren't for Carmel-Warren Central, this game would be getting all the hype this week. As it stands, I think Ben Davis makes three or four big plays on offense and wins this one in the second half. BEN DAVIS 24, CENTER GROVE 18

Lawrence Central at Southport
Friday, 7 p.m.
Both teams are on the outside of the Indiana POWERADE Top 10 rankings, but the winner could make a case for being bumped up. Something tells me Southport comes up big at home. SOUTHPORT 31, LAWRENCE CENTRAL 23

No. 10 Brownsburg at Harrison
Friday, 7 p.m.
Don't sleep on Brownsburg — a win tonight puts them at 6-1 with Zionsville and Fishers left to close out the season. BROWNSBURG 35, HARRISON 20
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.
In the second Indiana game to be televised as part of the ESPN High School Football Kickoff, Warren Central will host Cathedral tomorrow at 4 p.m. on ESPNU. While this matchup lost some of its luster when Cathedral dropped its season opener to Ben Davis, it still pits two of the state's most talented teams against each other. Warren Central looked especially dominant in Week 1, and the Warriors' defense looks downright dominant. Some analysts (me, I guess) have suggested that the Warren Central defensive line of seniors Sheldon Day, Darnell Smith, Jonathan Burt and Josh Posley might be the best in the nation, and ESPN Recruiting expert Jared Shanker goes in-depth with the foursome in this story.
The Warriors' defense is led by Smith and the rest of "The Four Horsemen," the nickname defensive coordinator Steve Tutsie gave the defensive line. All four D-line starters are committed to play at a Football Bowl Subdivision school on scholarship next fall.

For the complete story, click here.

For a closer look at both teams, click here.

Stock is rising for Day, Dieter

August, 23, 2011
In this week's edition of All-State Stock Watch (aka the first edition of All-State Stock Watch), we're looking at All-State football players who saw their potential value rise or fall over the summer. A player could have performed well at a camp, gotten a big-time scholarship offer, or broken a leg. Whatever the case, I chart all the data (in my head) and give you the biggest movers of the week.


UP — Gehrig Dieter, South Bend Washington WR
I put Dieter on the list of "Other Top Players" in the preseason All-State team, but he made a case to be a first-teamer with his performance in Week 1. The senior wideout set a state record with 373 receiving yards in a 46-23 win over Bloomington North, reeling in five touchdown catches in the process. And the TDs weren't cheap, either — they went for 80, 44, 88, 64 and 47 yards. If that kind of performance on opening night doesn't make your stock rise, nothing will.

DOWN — Gunner Kiel, Columbus East QB
If there's one thing Stock Watch is good at, it's overreacting to the slightest variances. So if, say, Gunner Kiel underperforms at Elite 11 over the summer, then opens the season with a 4-for-17 performance (for just 44 yards!), that stock is dropping. Don't expect Kiel to stay down for long, however. The Indiana commit is still one of the most talented passers in the country (ranked No. 2 among QBs in the ESPNU 150) and a tough-minded competitor. He'll have a chance to rise to the occasion on Friday, when his game against Columbus North will be televised on ESPNU as part of the ESPNHS High School Football Kickoff.

UP — Sheldon Day, Warren Central DL
We knew Day was a special player last year, when he emerged as perhaps the toughest matchup on a team full of college prospects. He piled up 53 tackles and five sacks, but the 6-foot-2, 275-pounder is looking even better this season. Over the summer, he showed his stuff by going up against the nation's best players at Nike Football's "The Opening" and winning defensive line MVP honors. In an opening-night rout of a good Merrillville team, Day had two tackles (one tackle for loss) as Warren Central rolled, 64-13. Look for the production to increase as the competition heats up. Day will lead Warren Central against Cathedral on Saturday in a game that will be televised on ESPNU.

Disagree with any stock picks? Or have a suggestion for next week? Leave a comment below or hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).

For the complete All-State football team, click here.