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High Schools

Predicted order
1. Snider
2. Bishop Dwenger
3. Wayne
4. Bishop Luers
5. North Side
6. Northrop
7. Concordia
8. South Side
Chad Ryan | The Journal Gazette
Bishop Luers junior quarterback Noah Wezensky has shared snaps the past two seasons, but he is now the established starter for the Knights.

SAC: Strong in ’14, stronger in ’15

The SAC has been known as one of the top football conferences in the state. With successful programs such as Snider, Bishop Dwenger and Bishop Luers, the league has name recognition around the state.

Starting in 2015, the SAC’s reputation should be even higher.

That’s when Carroll and Homestead join the conference in football and basketball. Homestead brings a long history of winning in the NHC, while Carroll’s legacy has been more recent under the tutelage of former Snider offensive coordinator Doug Dinan.

“It makes it the greatest conference in the history of Indiana,” Dwenger coach Chris Svarczkopf said of the league in 2015. “You take the SAC, which is going to be this year as good as it has ever been, and then you add those two schools. There’s no better conference in the state of Indiana. There will be some great crowds and great atmosphere.”

The SAC has had the same lineup since Elmhurst (2010) and Harding (2011) closed.

“We have the utmost respect for the coaches and players in the SAC, and that’s only going to increase next year when Homestead and Carroll come in,” Snider coach Kurt Tippmann said. “It’s something we are excited about, and the city should be excited about that. That is going to be exciting football every Friday night.”

You could call 2014 the calm before the storm.

“It strengthens the conference overall,” Northrop coach Jason Doerffler said. “There’s no question about that. I don’t know if it changes that much. We don’t have any easy games, not this season and not in this conference. That will be the same with Carroll and Homestead. It will be good for us as a (Class) 6A school because we will see them. It is good as a measuring stick for that part of the season.”

The competition week in and week out has often been a key factor for postseason runs of SAC teams. Carroll and Homestead should provide more of that and also reap some of the same benefits come playoff time. Luers, which moved up to 3A last year, won four straight 2A state titles in 2009-12, while Dwenger has four 4A state runner-up finishes since 2002 and Snider was the 5A state runner-up in 2012.

“Outside of the city you don’t see too much athleticism, but inside the city everybody is fast and strong, and they play hard,” Luers senior receiver Solomon Smith said. “That prepares us because that gets us used to what we are going to see when we get into our playoff run.”

After years of Bishop Dwenger and Snider dominating the SAC’s Victory Bell, which goes to the winner of the league, North Side’s run to the championship last season showed the depth of the SAC.

“Our kids are more confident with it,” North Side coach Ryan Hall said. “We have talked that everybody is coming for you. When you have the Bell on your sidelines … every other team in the SAC is talking about taking it from you. It is a privilege for us to have it. We have talked about defending the Bell and teams are going to do everything they can to come and get us.”

Along with the Redskins, Concordia was also one of those surprise teams a year ago and used the SAC opposition to assist in a 3A sectional championship.

“We tell our kids that you get to play against some of the best that the state of Indiana has to offer, to see where we stack up,” Concordia coach Tim Manigel said. “I try to make a positive out of that.”

For some teams – Snider, Wayne and Bishop Dwenger in particular – there is a wealth of experience returning this season. For others, there is raw talent just needing time on the field to make others realize what they have.

“It seems like every year you may get a new coach that changes things up, but it is just fun,” Hall said. “I see it being competitive. It should be a wide-open race.”