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Greg Jones

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Bishop Luers at Snider, 7 p.m.
Concordia at North Side, 7 p.m.
Indianapolis Tech at Wayne, 7 p.m.
Northrop at East Noble, 7 p.m.
South Side at Bishop Dwenger, 7 p.m.
Carroll at Goshen, 7:30 p.m.
DeKalb at Mishawaka Marian, 7 p.m.
Huntington North at Homestead, 7 p.m.
New Haven at Heritage, 7 p.m.
Norwell at Leo, 7 p.m.
Warsaw at Columbia City, 7 p.m.
Woodlan at Bellmont, 7 p.m.
Blackford at Adams Central, 7 p.m.
Eastside at Garrett, 7 p.m.
Northfield at Bluffton, 7 p.m.
South Adams at Winchester, 7 p.m.
Southwood vs. Southern Wells, at Eastbrook, 5:30 p.m.
Central Noble at Fairfield, 7 p.m.
Fremont at Churubusco, 7 p.m.
Prairie Heights at Lakeland, 7 p.m.
West Noble at Angola, 7 p.m.
Culver Academy at Tippecanoe Valley, 7:30 p.m.
Wawasee at Whitko, 7:30 p.m.
Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
Junior Quinn Cook could be the starting quarterback when Bishop Luers takes on Snider tonight.

Favorites Snider, Luers open SAC slate

Normally, season openers are supposed to be a way for teams to ease into the season. But Bishop Luers and Snider don’t get that luxury.

Not only are two talented teams going head-to-head right away, but the SAC championship could be decided in Week 1. This is not a normal opener between the two teams that are arguably the best in the league in 2012.

Snider coach Kurt Tippmann warns not to get too caught up in the hype that this kickoff to the season will bring a close to the race for the SAC championship.

“One of those things is the assumption is that we are the two best teams (in the SAC), which is an unfair assumption to everybody else,” Tippmann said. “The league is going to be much improved.

“It is an incorrect assumption on a lot of people’s part, but that is kind of the hype of everything. We would like to think that the two of us will be in the mix to compete for that, and certainly this game will go a long way in the beginning determining part of that.”

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the matchup, though. Bishop Luers comes in with a load of talent returning from a team that won its third straight Class 2A state championship last fall, and Snider brings back experience and ability in all the right places from a team that reached the 5A semistate.

There will be at least three radio stations broadcasting the game, and the Indianapolis Colts caravan will be making an appearance as well. It could be a classic, but it’s too bad it’s also the opener. This is a game that deserves plenty of weeks and weeks of anticipation. But these two teams have met in the opener since 2009, and it appears it will remain that way for the foreseeable future.

“It is a real good feeling to meet Snider right away,” Luers senior receiver Mike Rogers said. “That’s what we have been working toward all summer. It would mean a lot (to win). If we beat Snider, then we would have a real good look, but we would have to keep playing hard.”

While Luers has the Victory Bell and the SAC championship on its side from last year, Snider seems to have history in its corner.

The Knights have won the last two matchups between the two teams – 32-21 last year and 34-13 in 2010 – but have never beaten the Panthers three straight years. In fact, Luers has beaten Snider two years in a row only twice – 2000 and 2001.

“We know they are going to be good because they return so many people,” Tippmann said of Luers. “If we win the game, we certainly aren’t going to go, ‘It’s in the bag, and we are the SAC champs.’ There hasn’t been any mention of that. We just have to win Game 1.”

The Panthers also have the experience at quarterback in senior Brandon Phelps, while Luers will be breaking in a new one with junior Quinn Cook and freshman Noah Wezensky as the top two candidates.

“Last year, they were returning a three-year starting quarterback (James Knapke), and we had a brand-new quarterback (Brandon Phelps),” Tippmann said. “Offensively, they probably had the upper hand. Maybe this year, the shoe’s on the other foot. We have a guy who has some games under his belt, playing in some big games. I like the experience coming back.”

Greg Jones is the high school sports editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in the Fort Wayne area since 1998. He can be reached by email gjones@jg.net; phone, 461-8224; or fax 461-8648.

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