What better way to preview this weekend's Semi-State games than by playing a quick game of "Contender or Pretender (or Chicken Tender)?" There are intriguing matchups in each class, and I'll give my actual predictions tomorrow. As usual with "CPCT," there are no prizes — we're playing for fun.
"CONTENDER OR PRETENDER (OR CHICKEN TENDER)?"
Contender — Gunner Kiel, Columbus East QB
It's been quite a year for Kiel. A disappointing summer put a dent in his recruiting rankings, and a slow start with Columbus East had some questioning whether Kiel (and the team) was overrated. Once he had time to work with his new receivers, Kiel started putting up his usual numbers (28 TD passes heading into this week's game). Then came his decision to re-evaluate his commitment to Indiana. And he followed up that firestorm by leading the Olympians deep into the playoffs. Anyone who can survive all that and still have a great season is a contender in my book.
Pretender — FW Snider
Yes, the Panthers upset Hamilton SE last week, but I'm still not a believer. When Snider played Penn early this season, Penn came away with a 31-13 win. It may not even be that close this time around. Everything will have to go perfectly for FW Snider to stay in this game — that doesn't mean the Panthers can't win, it just means they're a pretender this week.
Chicken Tender — Carmel's 5A competition
Consider this a challenge to the teams left in Class 5A. Carmel has already taken out Warren Central and Ben Davis, the two teams considered to be the biggest obstacles to the Greyhounds' state-title run, so everyone seems to agree that Carmel is now a lock to lift the trophy at Lucas Oil. So I'm talking to you, Penn, FW Snider and Center Grove — are you going to make things interesting, or are you going to be chicken tenders?
Want to play more "Contender or Pretender (or Chicken Tender)?" Hit me on Twitter (@ESPNHSGrimala).