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New opponents make way onto local schedules

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Those who frown upon change might not want to closely inspect the upcoming high school football schedules.

Expired contracts pave the way for new contracts. As a result, five of Johnson County’s six programs will be offered unique challenges during the regular season.

Whiteland kicks off the concept Week 1 when the Warriors travel to Lafayette Jeff for what is the first meeting between the programs.

Four weeks later the Class 5A Warriors take on another Class 6A program when they host Avon. Whiteland’s most recent games against the Orioles were in 1994, ’97 and ’98, when Avon outscored the Warriors by a combined 131-7.

“We wanted to challenge ourselves in our nonconference schedule as much as we could. We wanted to play faster earlier in the year, and I think we’re ready to take that next step,” 10th-year Whiteland coach Darrin Fisher said.

Few opponents force accelerated tempo better than Center Grove, the Warriors’ Week 2 opponent.

Fisher’s squad finally gets to face the Trojans on its own field after losing to the Trojans 47-7 at Lucas Oil Stadium in 2012 and 56-0 and 55-6 at Center Grove in 2013 and 2011, respectively.

“It’s not a rivalry until we make it one, and we plan to. It’s a game that needs to be played,” Fisher said.

Center Grove’s new nonconference opponent visits Week 9 in the form of Cathedral, which captured its first Class 5A state title last fall after previously pocketing eight Class 4A and two Class 3A state championships.

It will be the first time Center Grove has faced the Irish since a 24-22 loss in Week 2 of the 1992 season.

A Sept. 5 meeting between Franklin and Brownsburg on the Grizzly Cubs’ home turf marks the first time these teams have played since 2000, when Franklin blanked the Bulldogs 10-0 in sectional play.

This Week 3 matchup represents the beginning of a four-year home-and-home series.

“Brownsburg is a very quality opponent, and we want to go into the IHSAA tournament prepared for anything and everything,” said second-year Cubs coach Adam Reese, whose program is contracted to open the 2015 regular season against Columbus North.

Reese hopes to eventually accomplish what Whiteland has by getting Center Grove on Franklin’s regular-season schedule.

The Trojans defeated the Grizzly Cubs in Class 5A sectional games in 2011 and 2012, but the schools haven’t squared off in the regular season since 1998.

“I think for us and for our community we would love to see Center Grove on the schedule,” Reese said. “Not only to play, but to compete with. That’s where we’re trying to get to.”

Indian Creek as a Class 3A program sees a little bit of everything by playing one Class 4A opponent (Greenwood), two Class 3As, three Class 2As and three Class As.

On Sept. 12 the Braves host Greencastle, a Class 3A program which won the last of its two sectional titles in 1991. Conversely, the Tiger Cubs are 26-6 during the past three seasons.

The Greencastle game is only a one-year happening as Indian Creek continues the process of finding another nonconference opponent to play starting in 2015.

“(Greencastle’s) coach left, and I know they lost a lot of seniors from last year’s team, but I’m sure they’ll have a solid team,” Braves coach Mike Gillin said. “Obviously, our conference (Mid-Indiana) is small-school, but we could well be a 2A down the road.”

Edinburgh’s regular-season schedule includes a first-time game against Oldenburg Academy in Week 6. The Twisters just started their football program last season, finishing 1-6.

“It’s pretty much the same schedule as last year except Oldenburg. We were supposed to play them last year, but they said they couldn’t field enough players,” Lancers coach Bill Unsworth said.

“There are some teams we should be pretty competitive with. Counting the scrimmage (against Marshall) we have three games on the road and the rest of them at home.”

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