Chip Shots: Is It Too Soon?

June 22, 2024 at 8:00 a.m.


Seven more Fridays until the high school football scrimmages and jamborees will launch the 2024 season. Almost every area team has adjusted their schedule due to joining a conference, or taking on new members in the conferences where they remain.
Is it too soon to talk about high school football? There is no such thing in my world.
We’ll start from the smallest to the largest to see what the gridiron schedule offers each set of area football fans.
The Triton Trojans (Class 1A) and their Hoosier North Athletic Conference (HNAC) said goodbye to LaVille (2A) and Knox (3A) while will a new area conference explained in detail when we discuss Tippecanoe Valley. The Trojans kept the consistently strong LaVille Lancers on their non-conference schedule. They’ll open their 2024 campaign hosting LaVille Friday August 23.
The Trojans will keep their non-conference rivalry game with Bremen on the schedule as well, but it will now fall during week 2.
The HNAC added two football schools and many more basketball-only schools to its membership. Triton will, as a result, add Class 1A North Miami to its conference slate for its season finale, and Class 1A South Central in Unions Mills in mid-September.
Something of note for the Trojans, this tiny school with graduating classes with enrollment levels in the 60s and 70s dresses at least 50 athletes in most seasons. This is rather impressive.
Whitko has an additional Three Rivers Conference (TRC) foe, Northwestern on its their league slate.
The addition of Lewis Cass in 2023 following the league’s collectively petty behavior - a vote-out of Tippecanoe Valley from the TRC – and Northwestern shifts the TRC’s geography further south and further west. This is a schlep for Whitko, and one wonders whether a move to the Northeast Corner Conference (NECC) suits them better in the long tun.
TRC member football schools only play one non-conference school, and the Wildcats will play Prairie Heights, who happens to be a NECC member, in their season opener. Whitko skunked Prairie Heights 20-0 in 2023 for its only win of the season.
The Wildcats’ closest neighbor, TRC member Manchester, hosts Whitko Friday October 4 to continue their conference rivalry.
The Manchester Squires, whose head coach resigned resulting from the effect of budget cuts, welcome a new head coach (Brian Enyeart) in his first head coaching role. The Squires will host the Bluffton Tigers for their only non-conference clash Friday August 30, and they’ll be the first TRC school to have a conference class with aforementioned newcomer Northwestern.
The Wildcats and the Squires will welcome a new foe in their IHSAA Class 2A Sectional 35 group, the two-time Class 1A state runners-up, Adams Central.
Manchester has a chance to take on sectional foe Eastside depending on the draw. The Blazers are coached by former Squires mentor Alex Brandewie, who guided Eastside to a 7-4 record in his first season in Butler, Indiana.
Tippecanoe Valley, whose off-season story is likely the most exciting in the area, launches its first season in the newly formed Northern State Conference (an homage to some of its former and current members in its newest form). Bremen, aforementioned HNAC defectors LaVille and Knox, will join John Glenn and Jimtown to form the new league.
Valley turned its lemons of being dumped from the TRC in 2023 into lemonade in 2023 during the regular season constructing a great regular season with three of its new conference foes and maintained its “Bell Game” rivalry with Rochester en route to a 9-0 regular season.
The Vikings will move out of the Class 3A meatgrinder from last year, comprised of several top teams from the Indianapolis greater metro area including 2023 Class 3A state champ, Indianapolis Chatard, who convincingly beat the Vikes 40-7 in their postseason opener.
A sectional that included several private school teams who can attract talent with Indiana’s income-based voucher system is now in Tippecanoe Valley’s past. This year’s sectional, if Valley is reloading and not rebuilding, will be comprised of four NECC schools, two Allen County Athletic Conference schools, and Fort Wayne Concordia. This sectional field should bode well for Valley’s postseason run outlook.
The Vikings host Rochester for the Bell Game Friday August 30, tackle non-conference foes Hammond Morton (September 6), and Western (Howard County, October 4), and season-opener intra-county guest Wawasee on August 23.
The Warriors were a tough out for a strong Valley squad in a 23-12 Viking win. Wawasee, in fact, gave its own conference’s strongest teams fits. Northridge escaped Syracuse with a 14-7 win, and Warsaw needed a fourth quarter surge to beat the Warriors by one TD 22-15 to retain the W trophy.
The Warriors also pestered conference and eventual Class 4A state championship runner-up Northwood but landed on the wrong end of the 38-21 final score.
Wawasee hosts Warsaw earlier in the season than in recent season’s past for the W trophy clash September 13. Matt Thacker, a former Warsaw offensive coordinator who resuscitated a Fairfield Falcon program nearly DOA upon his arrival, will be a familiar face on the home sideline in that mid-September clash.
Thacker is bringing the triple option to Wawasee, moving the number of programs in the Northern Lakes Conference (NLC) employing the offense the three (Mishawaka, and Warsaw the other two). If there are some returnees from last year’s tough-out Warrior program, Thacker’s offense and culture he’ll bring might make Friday nights even more interesting in Syracuse than even last year’s slate.
Wawasee’s sectional (Class 4A, 18) looks like an NCL-Northern Indiana Conference (NIC) shootout with five NLC teams and three of the four remaining South Bend high schools. Mishawaka’s enrollment decrease dropped the Cavemen to Class 4A along with NLC foes Northridge, NorthWood, and Plymouth.
Warsaw moves to Class 5A for the first time since there were only five enrollment classes in Indiana high school football (2012). The Tigers’ enrollment actually increased in 2024, but external factors landed Warsaw into Class 5A.
The first factor was the combination of other schools’ greater growth and leap into Class 6A. The second factor was comprised of a Tournament Success Factor bump-up for defending Class 5A state champion Fort Wayne Snider, and Indianapolis Cathedral’s continuing postseason success allowing it to remain in Class 6A.
Warsaw has a great home schedule with its final season clash versus Michigan City serving as its home opener. They’ll also host Columbia City for a scrimmage Friday August 16 if you want to see the Tiger coaching staff don tropical print shirts in the continued tradition of honoring – in loving memory – the departed brother of head coach Bart Curtis.
A big “program game” trip to perennial Class 6A power Warren Central is likely one of the three toughest games on the Tiger’s schedule. The Mishawaka-Warsaw head-to-head triple option clash will be October 4, and will also feature Warsaw’s Senior Night band, cheerleading, and football honorees.
Warsaw’s Class 5A Sectional 11 field includes NLC foes Conrod and Goshen, and Fort Wayne North Side, a program Warsaw scrimmaged the previous two seasons. Plenty of familiarity among this sectional quarter.
If you’ve reached this far in today’s column it probably wasn’t too soon for you to read about high school football either.
Seven more Fridays.

Seven more Fridays until the high school football scrimmages and jamborees will launch the 2024 season. Almost every area team has adjusted their schedule due to joining a conference, or taking on new members in the conferences where they remain.
Is it too soon to talk about high school football? There is no such thing in my world.
We’ll start from the smallest to the largest to see what the gridiron schedule offers each set of area football fans.
The Triton Trojans (Class 1A) and their Hoosier North Athletic Conference (HNAC) said goodbye to LaVille (2A) and Knox (3A) while will a new area conference explained in detail when we discuss Tippecanoe Valley. The Trojans kept the consistently strong LaVille Lancers on their non-conference schedule. They’ll open their 2024 campaign hosting LaVille Friday August 23.
The Trojans will keep their non-conference rivalry game with Bremen on the schedule as well, but it will now fall during week 2.
The HNAC added two football schools and many more basketball-only schools to its membership. Triton will, as a result, add Class 1A North Miami to its conference slate for its season finale, and Class 1A South Central in Unions Mills in mid-September.
Something of note for the Trojans, this tiny school with graduating classes with enrollment levels in the 60s and 70s dresses at least 50 athletes in most seasons. This is rather impressive.
Whitko has an additional Three Rivers Conference (TRC) foe, Northwestern on its their league slate.
The addition of Lewis Cass in 2023 following the league’s collectively petty behavior - a vote-out of Tippecanoe Valley from the TRC – and Northwestern shifts the TRC’s geography further south and further west. This is a schlep for Whitko, and one wonders whether a move to the Northeast Corner Conference (NECC) suits them better in the long tun.
TRC member football schools only play one non-conference school, and the Wildcats will play Prairie Heights, who happens to be a NECC member, in their season opener. Whitko skunked Prairie Heights 20-0 in 2023 for its only win of the season.
The Wildcats’ closest neighbor, TRC member Manchester, hosts Whitko Friday October 4 to continue their conference rivalry.
The Manchester Squires, whose head coach resigned resulting from the effect of budget cuts, welcome a new head coach (Brian Enyeart) in his first head coaching role. The Squires will host the Bluffton Tigers for their only non-conference clash Friday August 30, and they’ll be the first TRC school to have a conference class with aforementioned newcomer Northwestern.
The Wildcats and the Squires will welcome a new foe in their IHSAA Class 2A Sectional 35 group, the two-time Class 1A state runners-up, Adams Central.
Manchester has a chance to take on sectional foe Eastside depending on the draw. The Blazers are coached by former Squires mentor Alex Brandewie, who guided Eastside to a 7-4 record in his first season in Butler, Indiana.
Tippecanoe Valley, whose off-season story is likely the most exciting in the area, launches its first season in the newly formed Northern State Conference (an homage to some of its former and current members in its newest form). Bremen, aforementioned HNAC defectors LaVille and Knox, will join John Glenn and Jimtown to form the new league.
Valley turned its lemons of being dumped from the TRC in 2023 into lemonade in 2023 during the regular season constructing a great regular season with three of its new conference foes and maintained its “Bell Game” rivalry with Rochester en route to a 9-0 regular season.
The Vikings will move out of the Class 3A meatgrinder from last year, comprised of several top teams from the Indianapolis greater metro area including 2023 Class 3A state champ, Indianapolis Chatard, who convincingly beat the Vikes 40-7 in their postseason opener.
A sectional that included several private school teams who can attract talent with Indiana’s income-based voucher system is now in Tippecanoe Valley’s past. This year’s sectional, if Valley is reloading and not rebuilding, will be comprised of four NECC schools, two Allen County Athletic Conference schools, and Fort Wayne Concordia. This sectional field should bode well for Valley’s postseason run outlook.
The Vikings host Rochester for the Bell Game Friday August 30, tackle non-conference foes Hammond Morton (September 6), and Western (Howard County, October 4), and season-opener intra-county guest Wawasee on August 23.
The Warriors were a tough out for a strong Valley squad in a 23-12 Viking win. Wawasee, in fact, gave its own conference’s strongest teams fits. Northridge escaped Syracuse with a 14-7 win, and Warsaw needed a fourth quarter surge to beat the Warriors by one TD 22-15 to retain the W trophy.
The Warriors also pestered conference and eventual Class 4A state championship runner-up Northwood but landed on the wrong end of the 38-21 final score.
Wawasee hosts Warsaw earlier in the season than in recent season’s past for the W trophy clash September 13. Matt Thacker, a former Warsaw offensive coordinator who resuscitated a Fairfield Falcon program nearly DOA upon his arrival, will be a familiar face on the home sideline in that mid-September clash.
Thacker is bringing the triple option to Wawasee, moving the number of programs in the Northern Lakes Conference (NLC) employing the offense the three (Mishawaka, and Warsaw the other two). If there are some returnees from last year’s tough-out Warrior program, Thacker’s offense and culture he’ll bring might make Friday nights even more interesting in Syracuse than even last year’s slate.
Wawasee’s sectional (Class 4A, 18) looks like an NCL-Northern Indiana Conference (NIC) shootout with five NLC teams and three of the four remaining South Bend high schools. Mishawaka’s enrollment decrease dropped the Cavemen to Class 4A along with NLC foes Northridge, NorthWood, and Plymouth.
Warsaw moves to Class 5A for the first time since there were only five enrollment classes in Indiana high school football (2012). The Tigers’ enrollment actually increased in 2024, but external factors landed Warsaw into Class 5A.
The first factor was the combination of other schools’ greater growth and leap into Class 6A. The second factor was comprised of a Tournament Success Factor bump-up for defending Class 5A state champion Fort Wayne Snider, and Indianapolis Cathedral’s continuing postseason success allowing it to remain in Class 6A.
Warsaw has a great home schedule with its final season clash versus Michigan City serving as its home opener. They’ll also host Columbia City for a scrimmage Friday August 16 if you want to see the Tiger coaching staff don tropical print shirts in the continued tradition of honoring – in loving memory – the departed brother of head coach Bart Curtis.
A big “program game” trip to perennial Class 6A power Warren Central is likely one of the three toughest games on the Tiger’s schedule. The Mishawaka-Warsaw head-to-head triple option clash will be October 4, and will also feature Warsaw’s Senior Night band, cheerleading, and football honorees.
Warsaw’s Class 5A Sectional 11 field includes NLC foes Conrod and Goshen, and Fort Wayne North Side, a program Warsaw scrimmaged the previous two seasons. Plenty of familiarity among this sectional quarter.
If you’ve reached this far in today’s column it probably wasn’t too soon for you to read about high school football either.
Seven more Fridays.

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