By GREG MENGELT
> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
There’s nothing quite like a good old-fashioned rivalry game.
Even when teams are average (an argument can be made for each of Clarksville, Providence, Floyd Central, and New Albany all being better than average, but they are a combined 13-19 so it’s not an easy argument to make), rivalries are still special.
When it comes to the Floyd County Fight and the Crosstown Clash (I just made up those monikers, feel free to use them at your discretion), there will be no love lost, you can throw out the records and of all the other rivalry metaphors.
What’s interesting about Friday’s rivalry games, is that at several different points in the season, it looks like one team or the other might win in a blowout. But now, after eight weeks of been played, it appears that fans in Clarksville and Floyd County should be treated to two ultracompetitive games.
On to the picks:
NEW ALBANY AT FLOYD CENTRAL
Before the season, Floyd Central would have been considered the heavy favorite in this game. The Highlanders were coming off three consecutive nine-win seasons, and while the loss of Kyle Bramble and several other key starters was a concern, most fans in southern Indiana thought Floyd would be solid again in 2012.
The Bulldogs, on the other hand, won just once last year. No doubt New Albany fans expected vast improvements in 2012. However, few believed the Bulldogs would be after six weeks.
After Week 6, when New Albany was flying high and the Highlanders were a lowly 1-5, most fans in Floyd County probably expected New Albany to end its four-game losing streak to its rivals rather easily in the regular-season finale.
In the past few weeks, Floyd Central has started to show signs of life, particularly on defense. Meanwhile, the Bulldog offense was struggling to produce points, until its fourth-quarter explosion in last week’s 22-20 loss to Seymour.
Now it’s anybody’s guess. Honestly, this game could go either way.
One thing appears certain: A 61-60 outburst like that of two years ago, is highly unlikely. In fact, would it really surprise anyone if the two teams fail to gain 121 yards apiece, much less combined to score 121 points.
THE PICK: New Albany 13, Floyd Central 7.
CLARKSVILLE AT PROVIDENCE
Little was expected of Clarksville before the season. Wes Rittman was gone as the signal caller, and he was just one of several valuable Generals to leave after the 2011 season. They were blown out 48-14 in the season opener against Southridge and failed to score an offensive touchdown in the defeat.
Providence, on the other hand, split with 5A rivals Floyd Central and New Albany and then went across the river and dismantled Holy Cross.
In Week 2, Aidan McEwen Took over as quarterback in Clarksville and the General offense has never looked back, reaching at least 28 points in all four of their victories. Steve Cooley’s defense has been equally impressive. The Generals have two shutout wins in their last four games, three of which have been triumphs as Clarksville has even its record after a 1-3 start.
The Pioneers have lost four of their last five games and had to hold off winless Evansville Bosse for that one win. The Providence D has surrendered at least 50 points and two of its last three games. Granted, a lot of teams are giving up 50 points to Charlestown and Jeffersonville.
Again, I wouldn’t be surprised by either team winning this game. However, I’d be less surprised by a Clarksville win.
THE PICK: Clarksville 26, Providence 21.
CRAWFORD COUNTY AT SILVER CREEK
Crawford County has won one game in the past four years. It was a 41-40 win over first-year Silver Creek a year ago.
It won’t happen again.
Unfortunately, Crawford County, a fairly new program itself, appears to be on the verge of extinction. The program barely had enough players to field a team this year. After scoring fewer points (32) than they give up on a per-game basis (45.3) through eight weeks, it’s going to be hard to find kids who want to be part of a program like that.
The Dragons are a different story. It’s hard to express just how impressive the 2012 campaign has been in Sellersburg. It is where for a football program to win three games in just its second full varsity season. The reason has been an offense -- led by an outstanding running back in Layne Taylor — that clicked from Day 1, But the Dragon defense has come on of late as well.
This will be Silver Creek easiest win yet. As many of its games have been in the other direction in the past two years, this game will be over by halftime.
THE PICK: Silver Creek 54, Crawford County 6.
JEFFERSONVILLE AT JENNINGS COUNTY
There’s not a lot to say about this one. Jennings was in trouble to begin with. After Jeff’s embarrassing loss at Columbus East last Friday, it will probably be even uglier.
The Devils will score at will and their defense will be impenetrable. Jeff may score more touchdowns than the Panthers get first downs.
THE PICK: Jeffersonville 55, Jennings County 0.
CHARLESTOWN AT EASTERN
There’s even less to say about this one. The Pirates are outscoring opponents by an average of 58-7 ... and 1-7 Eastern is the worst team they’ve played yet.
It will get ugly fast. The Musketeers’ best outcome is to get to a running clock as quickly as possile.
Writing anything more would be cruel.
THE PICK: Charlestown 69, Eastern 0.
OTHER AREA GAMES OF INTEREST
• Brownstown Central 33, at Corydon Central 28: The Braves have been impressive since their 41-3 loss to Charlestown seven weeks ago.
• Columbus East 35, Bedford North Lawrence 21: The Stars have continually improved throughout the season, as expected, winning their last four games — just not enough to compete with East.
• GREG’S SEASON RECORD: 53-17 (75.7 percent)