By GREG MENGELT
For about the last six weeks, I’ve been telling anyone who will listen that Charlestown is the best team in Class 3A.
Even I’ve underestimated the Pirates.
Yeah, I picked them to beat Corydon Central in the Sectional 23 semifinal and Brownstown Central in the championship game. However, I also predicted that both teams would play Charlestown closer the second time around.
Man, was I wrong.
The Pirates had both games won by halftime, leading Corydon 49-0 and the Braves 41-0 at the break.
You can argue that Gibson Southern is better than Corydon and Brownstown. It would be a tough argument to make, but you could do it. However, there’s no way to argue that the Titans are 53 points better than Brownstown.
The only thing the Titans have going for them is that they’ve played more close games. They beat Boonville by two points, 33-31, on Sept. 7, and Heritage Hills, 14-10 on Sept. 21 before back-to-back overtime wins in the final two rounds of the sectional, 37-31 over Vincennes then 27-24 over Evansville Memorial.
But it doesn’t matter if you’re tough in close games if the game isn’t going to be close.
Keep in mind that the same Heritage Hills team beat by four points, Brownstown beat by three just two weeks before getting crushed by Charlestown, 62-10.
Welcome to your first regional, Gibson Southern. Your prize is the highest-scoring team in Indiana high school football history.
Charlestown hasn’t played in a regional since 1996. That streak ended last Friday.
The Pirates haven’t won a regional since 1989. That streak will end this Friday. Like Charlestown’s first 12 games, it will be no contest.
Chatard — the Pirates’ likely semistate opponent — is the one team that has a chance to keep Charlestown out of Lucas Oil Stadium and likely the only team with a shot at keeping the Pirates from winning the state title.
We’ll leave that for next week.
PREDICTION: Charlestown 55, Gibson Southern 14.
STAFF REGIONAL PICKS
• Kevin Harris, Sports Reporter: “Gibson Southern has a solid quarterback in Jordan Scheller and knows how to win close games, as the Titans have won two overtime contests the past two weeks. But the bottom line, Charlestown will have just too much firepower for Gibson Southern on offense and the Pirates’ defense will find a way to slow down Scheller and the Titans’ offense. Plus, Charlestown will benefit from having the game at home instead of driving at least two hours to play in the regional.” PREDICTION: Charlestown 44, Gibson Southern 17.
• Shea Van Hoy, Editor: “Charlestown has as dominating a pedigree as I’ve ever seen in Indiana. They don’t simply win games — they bury teams in a matter of minutes. Gibson Southern is about 80 spots behind the Pirates in the Sagarin ratings, which bodes well for Charlestown. The real test coming next weekend if Indianapolis Chatard wins it’s regional game.” PREDICTION: Charlestown 53, Gibson Southern 7.
• Mike Riley, Sports Correspondent: “Every week, coach Jason Hawkins says that they’ll try to get better. His players have backed him up on that. Every week. Blowout victories over area powers Brownstown and Corydon were backed up by sectional blowouts — by halftime. Gibson Southern comes to “The Boneyard” with only one victory over a team with a winning record. They call themselves “The Titans,” but don’t look for the same ending as the movie.” PREDICTION: Charlestown 45, Gibson Southern 14.
• Will Clark, Sports Correspondent: “This is a Charlestown team on a mission to prove they deserved the No. 1 ranking in the regular season. They have scored no less than 41 points in a game this season and look to post at least that many points against the Titans. With a nod to Gibson Southern on their first sectional title in school history, their post-season road stops in Charlestown.” PREDICTION: Charlestown 62, Gibson Southern 14.
• Joseph Adams, Sports Correspondent: “Charlestown has dominated every team on their schedule this season, and I don’t see this week any differently. Even though this isn’t an opponent Charlestown knows much about, just like the rest of the teams, Gibson Southern doesn’t match up well with Charlestown. In the past two weeks, Gibson Southern has gone into overtime to move on to the next round, where Charlestown’s starters were out by halftime. For Gibson Southern to have a chance, senior quarterback Jordan Scheller will need to pick apart Charlestown’s secondary and also find holes to run through. It also doesn’t help Gibson Southern to have to travel to Charlestown, where the Pirates have only given up a total of 30 points all season to their opponents.” PREDICTION: Charlestown 42, Gibson Southern 12.