> SOUTHERN INDIANA —
The first couple weeks of the Hoosier Hills Conference have been pretty ho-hum.
Through nine conference games, four teams are unbeaten and four teams are winless. Last week, the four teams on top of the standings — Jeffersonville, New Albany, Floyd Central and Columbus East — outscored Madison, Bedford North Lawrence, Seymour and Jennings County 209-64. The week before, it was 191-23.
Now that’s a divide.
Jeffersonville and East are unbeaten. East is ranked No. 1 in Class 4A and Jeff is 13th in the new 6A. Floyd County rivals New Albany and Floyd Central are both 3-1.
The bottom half of the league standings features four teams a combined 2-14. Madison — yes, Madison — owns both of those wins in non-conference play.
While it’s almost certain that the Hoosier Hills won’t be decided until at least the Jeff-East game on Oct. 11, the race officially gets started on Friday when New Albany travels to Columbus and the Red Devils host the Highlanders.
NEW ALBANY AT COLUMBUS EAST
East keeps losing blue chippers and it never seems to lose a step. Even after all three Kiel brothers graduated, the Olympians have continued their stranglehold on the HHC.
Bob Gaddis has turned a program that itself was relegated to the bottom of the HHC standings in the late-90’s into one that expects to compete for championships every year.
With Cathedral now residing in Class 5A, the top-rated Olympians feel like this could be the year they finally win a state title.
New Albany, on the other hand, is a team itself on the rise. Just two years ago, the Bulldogs’ only win came at home against Madison. Like Gaddis, Charlie Fields’ has moved his program quickly to the top of the heap.
There’s little doubt now that the Bulldogs will get there. Again like Gaddis, it will just take a couple of years for Fields and the Bulldogs to realize their championship aspirations.
• THE PICK: Columbus East 37, New Albany 20.