County gridiron at its best with title shots all around
Whitko players burst onto the field early in the regular season. The Wildcats stand at a perfect 6-0 in the Three Rivers Conference through eight weeks. Whitko looks to claim its first outright TRC title since 2002 Friday. Post & Mail photo / Andrew Shultz
Whether its Eagles, Wildcats or a team from “The City” that you’re talking about in Indiana high school football, then it probably has to do with a conference title race.
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Never before has it happened this late into the season. Three teams with a 7-1 record within Whitley County.
Look through your record books, check your statistics and bring together whatever past thoughts you might have and throw them out the window. The county is in the midst of its best combined football season ever.
This time a season ago, the three local high schools had one football team with a winning record. Its combined record stood at 12-12 with the hopes of a conference title gone for all but North East Corner Conference champion Churubusco.
Now anywhere you look you’ll see a conference leader.
In the southern part of the county the chemistry is strong at Whitko High School.
The Wildcats took a 3-7 record from last season and turned it around with first-year quarterback Alex Stoddard and multi-stacked backfield in D.J. Fouce and Dakota Harmon.
Derek Snep, one of the top receivers in northeast Indiana in yardage, has been the big target in the Wildcats run to a 6-0 start in the Three Rivers Conference.
With a week left in the regular season, Snep’s 491 yards receiving has helped Whitko lock up, at worst, a share of its first TRC championship since 2002.
As one team clinches a conference title, the county has a chance to have two more with wins in the final week.
No. 8 Columbia City from class 4A flipped a dismal 2-6 record at this point last season into an NHC best 7-1 mark in 2010.
Since the Eagles have been in the Northeast Hoosier Conference, they’ve only seen one championship season in 1990. That same season Whitko won a TRC title which makes it the only season two county teams have won a conference championship in the same year.
It was also the last time that Columbia City had two losses or less in the regular season.
The Eagles are doing it again by beating the best the state has to offer in the NHC.
After suffering their only loss to Homestead on a last-second field goal, the Eagles have given No. 9 New Haven its first loss and come away on the road at East Noble with a game-winning two-point conversion, 56-55.
A week nine win at Norwell would clinch an NHC championship for Columbia City and also match a regular season mark of 8-1 last done in 1969.
Quarterback Logan Rehrer has put his team among the state’s best but also himself.
The Eagles’ man under center has had one of the best seasons of any Eagle QB in the school’s history.
Currently ranked 12th in the state’s best quarterbacks, Rehrer has thrown 107-of-201 for 1,698 yards with 27 TDs (nine rushing) and only five interceptions. His yardage in 2010 ranks as second best in a single season just 486 yards away from the top spot.
In his career, Rehrer has set four records for passing yards (4,481), attempts (746), completions (387) and total offense (5,163).
The county’s only conference champion from 2009 is aiming to go back-to-back with a win in week nine.
No. 2 Churubusco is taking a 7-1 record into the final week of the regular season for a fourth consecutive year.
Head coach Lee Etzler ranks as the winningest coach at Churubusco with a 59-36 record in nine seasons with the Eagles.
A win over Lakeland Friday would make it the second time ’Busco has won back-to-back conference championships. The last time came in the days of two divisions in the NECC in 1992-93.
If the Eagles are going to repeat, senior Kyle Mathewson will have something to do about it. One season removed from a 1,800 yard season on the ground, Mathewson is doing it again as one of the top backs in northeast Indiana with 1,455 rushing yards and 25 combined touchdowns.
Whitley County would be a perfect 3-for-3 in county football, something never done before.
This time next week we could be talking about many firsts in the county. It’d be the first time all three teams finish 8-1 or better in the same season, with each winning a conference title.
All of this of course would make 2010 the season to remember for football in Whitley County.