Now, is when it all counts. Postseason football. The real season.
The sectional round of the IHSAA State tournament gets under way for most schools on Friday.
Morrow mug 1 jpegHere are a few possible scenarios, thoughts, and the skinny on matchups:
Let's start with the team that won't be playing this week.
Gûá Arguably as good a team in Hamilton County this season, and in the state, for that matter, Class 5A No. 1 Westfield, the county's only top-ranked football team, gets a bye week under the new IHSAA format.

Gûá-áSagarin Power Ratings-á
Gûá-áCoaches' Association final POLLS

This is big and timely for coach Jake Gilbert's Rocks (8-1), who visit winless Harrison on Nov. 1. Not only are the Rocks-á likely to play for the Sectional 11 championship on home turf, they will get a chance to rest up and heal for a few extra days.
Senior running back Frank Grimes has sat out the past couple of games due to a knee injury. He said he expects to be back for the postseason. The Rocks, however, have not missed a beat with junior Calvin Caldwell leading a solid running attack. With both Grimes and Caldwell in the backfield, wow, watch out. Westfield certainly has the weapons, confidence, a coach who has done an unbelievable job of turning around a program in less than 3 seasons, and all of the important ingredients to go all the way.
Yep, the sectional is just the start.
Are you paying attention, Cathedral?

Gûá Someone recently told me that they thought Carmel's tradition and football dominance against Hamilton County for the most part down through the years likely would strike some fear in Hamilton Southeastern. Fear? UhGǪ.maybe cause some nervousness, possibly. After all, Carmel has held the upper hand in a series that will be renewed in the regular season in the 2014 opener. The last time the schools met was in 2009 with Carmel winning 17-9 in the sectional championship game. Prior to that, you'd have to go back to 1997 for the last time HSE defeated the Greyhounds, who own 8 straight victories over the Royals. Based on what happened to the Hounds last week in a 28-24 loss at Ben Davis, where they failed to close the deal on a quest for a share of the MIC title, maybe the Hounds have reason to also enter the postseason in a somewhat nervous state of mind. Especially if you factor in the fact Carmel lost its final 2 games in 2012 to Ben Davis and then Warren Central in the sectional. Against Ben Davis last week, Carmel was up 24-7 at halftime, and then watched the Giants run the table in the second half. Both HSE (7-2) and Carmel (6-3) have solid-á teams. The Royals have been roughed up by 2 opponents while the Greyhounds have been in every game. The Hounds, too, on paper play a tougher schedule. But keep in mind that HSE's losses were administered by Fishers and Westfield.
So, how will HSE handle a pretty balanced Carmel team that platoons at quarterback with John Lampe, a consistent passer, and Isaac James, a track speedster who ran for 3 TDs against Ben Davis and also scored 8 TDs this season? How will Carmel handle bullish running back Hunter Hardee and two-way standout Jamitreus Crockham, one of the state's best athletes? And how will the Hounds handle regrouping as a team after last week's painful and shocking finish? The teams match up pretty evenly in terms of offensive and defensive averages, with the Royals (31.0 ppg, 17.6 oppg) holding a slight edge over Carmel (28.9 ppg, 19.7 oppg). Still, that Carmel tradition carries lot of weight and certainly demands respect. The Hounds were 1-2 at one point this season. Obviously, they know how to bounce back. In a close game, where the kicking game might make the difference, the edge goes to veteran Carmel punter-PK Adam Kremer.
Regardless of the outcome, it should be worth the $6 price of admission, for sure.
Gûá Fishers, which defeated Westfield in 3 overtimes, has won 8 straight games since a 27-24 season-opening loss at Noblesville. You gotta figure that the Tigers like the fact they have an opportunity to avenge that loss. Fishers (8-1) has an array of offensive weapons, and with only 2 starters back from last season on defense, the Tigers have showed continual improvement on that side of the ball. Noblesville (5-4) also has a lot of weapons. The Millers also allow a county-low 15.2 points per game. And the Millers won't be lacking for incentive since a victory would assure them of the school's first winning season since 2001. Should be interestingGǪ.But not likely the Millers or Tigers would be looking ahead to the Sectional 4 final. The favorite? Fishers has so many weaponsGǪ.If Noblesville can summon up its best game, this would be a good time for it.
Gûá Hamilton Heights (7-2) can strike by air and by land about as well as anyone, and many of these Huskies know what it takes to win and play for a state championship. Coach Mitch Street's squad was the Class 3A State runner-up in 2012. The Huskies average a county-best 41.4 points per game. Lawrenceburg (7-2) also can score, evidenced by its 32.8 points-per-game average. Defensively, the Huskies' give up 4.4 less points per game. The Huskies have 2 players in receiver Grant Weatherford and running back Conner Faulkner each with 102 points this season. Probably not many teams can match that. Mush on, you Huskies!
Gûá Guerin Catholic, the county's other 3A team which happens to be in the same sectional with Hamilton Heights, is 2-7 against pretty loaded schedule. Injuries have been a problem. In fact the Golden Eagles, extremely young with only 9 seniors-á at the start of the season, lost veteran quarterback Michael Myers a couple of weeks ago. They average only 10.2 points and allow 24.6 points per game. Rushville (6-3) averages 24.1 points and gives up 18.8 points per game. Guerin is coming off an impressive 23-8 win over Class 4A Jay County. Again, the Golden Eagles play a difficult schedule. Coach Andy Kremer plays a tough schedule for a reason. And his teams have reached the semistate twice in lower classes. Still, scoring so few points probably doesn't bode well for GCHS.
Gûá Sheridan (4-5) is a somewhat of a mystery team. The Blackhawks opened the season 0-2, then moved to 4-2 before the 3-game losing streak. They're not long on depth, though they have been competitive in their losses. And they have one of the state's top run non g backs in junior Austin Hoover, who has rushed for more than 1,800 yards and has scored 174 points. The statistical yardstick favors the 'Hawks against Arlington (3-4). Sheridan averages 29.4 points and gives up 22.8; the Knights score at a 24.4-á gait and allow 32.9 points per game. The No. 14 'Hawks would like another shot at No. 7 Tri-Central, which pulled out a 33-27 win last week. That would come in the semifinals.-á Different outcome? Quite possibly.
If you put much stock in the Sagarin football power ratings, one of the top 2 rated teams in each sectional likely have the best chance of winning their respective sectionals:
Class 6A Sectional 4
No. 4 Carmel, No. 8 Fishers (Interesting to note: If this match-up comes about, the Sectional 4 final would be played at Carmel Stadium, where the Tigers defeated the Greyhounds in a second-round sectional game in 2010, on their way to winning the Class 5A State Championship.)
5A Sectional 11
No. 11 Westfield, No. 46 McCutcheon
3A Sectional 30
No. 41 Batesville, No. 80 Hamilton Heights
1A Sectional 40
No. 147 Tri-Central, No. 154 Sheridan
Here are the updated Sagarin power ratings heading into sectionals involving Hamilton County schools (Note: First number is where they would rank in the state regardless of class:
Class 6A Sectional 4 -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á
-á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á -á RATING-á -á W -á L-á SCHEDL(RANK) VS top 25 \