By Grace Allen
By J.D. McKay
One week ago I wrote my NFL preview column. I was riding high on the Colts who have a great returning offensive line, solid defense, and upgraded receiving core. If you can recall I even picked them to beat the Patriots, who are Rob Gronkowski-less in the AFC Championship game, and Da Bears in the Super Bowl. Everything has now changed. Andrew Luck, the Colts starting quarterback, 2018 NFL Comeback Player of the Year, and potential 2019 NFL MVP retired. That means while the Colts should still be pretty good, they will not win a Super Bowl.
So now that Luck is retired, there are a couple subjects that need to be discussed: Where does that leave the Colts? Where does this leave Andrew Luck in the history books? What is the Colts game plan going forward?
The first one is not too hard; it leaves the Colts in the hands of Jacoby Brissett. He spent the first part of his career playing under Tom Brady and has started for almost one full season. Of course, Colts fans are crushed, but I do not think that it puts us in a bad place, at least for this season.
As for Luck, his legacy will be complicated. You cannot ignore the first few years of his career where he was sacked at least 27 times a season. That certainly led to his early retirement, and I think that can be blamed on Ryan Grigson, the Colts GM for the first few years of Luck’s career. However, last year he was sacked just 18 times. He also had an exciting career. His rookie year, he led seven come-from-behind wins, in what was a very exciting time as fans were Chuckstrong, in honor of head Coach Chuck Pagano’s fight against leukemia. Then, the next year he lead the third most exciting Colts post season game of my lifetime against the Chiefs. He came back from down 28 points to eventually win before losing to the Patriots. He then led the Colts to our third straight 11-5 season, before again losing the the Patriots in the playoffs in the Deflategate game. His next two years he missed most of the regular season before coming back to be 8-7. Then, last year he lead the team to the playoffs after starting 1-5 and won Comeback Player of the Year.
However, expectations for Luck coming in were higher. Mel Kiper said coming in the Luck was better than Peyton Manning. Some viewed him as the best draft prospect in 30 years. Bleacher Report and others did not stop there and wrote headlines saying he was going to be the best NFL prospect ever. When you read those, you expect better things than just an undefeated record against the Titans, one of the two teams the Colts beat the year before they drafted Luck.The expectations are Super Bowls, wins against consistent Super Bowl caliber teams, such as the Patriots and Steelers, and pro-bowls. Luck only managed to fulfill one of those, and it was not one that would get you a ring or a parade. I think that might put Luck in the category of busts. He is not the biggest bust in NFL history by any means, and while it would have been hard to reach any expectations, he was not really very close to getting there.
The Colts gameplan going forward should just to have a good year this year. The division is winnable, so make do. However, after this year, Jacoby Brissett is set to be a free agent, so if he does not re-sign, maybe the Colts will get another great QB prospect in Trevor Lawrence. This of course is very hypothetical, but a saddened fan can dream. Teddy Bridgewater is another name that has been thrown around as someone the Colts could use going forward. No matter what, the next few years as a Colts fan will either be extremely good behind our stud Brissett, or terrible behind one bad year of Brissett and then Tua Tagovailo from Alabama, or another bad year as we tank for Trevor.
By J.D. McKay
We made it. Saturday Florida and Miami play to start the college football season. Now, to those of us in Indiana, that game does not really interest us. But, it is the first televised game to matter. That should hopefully hold us over to Thursday, when we get to see Clemson and their QB Trevor Lawrence play for the first time after winning the National Championship last January.
I have already started college football, and it is coming sooner so I will start there. I expect 50 percent of the playoff from last year to be back. It will be the same 50 percent I predicted last year, Clemson and Alabama. The other two spots are much more open. However, Oklahoma has been very good over the past few years and always seem to slide into the playoffs, so they will be my third. The fourth spot is also pretty open. Georgia could get in. However, that would mean keeping the Big Ten out for a third straight year, and their last appearance, Ohio State, in 2016, was forgettable. They were blanked by Clemson, losing 31-0. I really do not think anyone from the Big Ten will get out of the conference. Ohio State has a new coach, so it should take them a year to get going. Michigan is always good until they play Ohio State, where they will inevitably get destroyed. Michigan State has a chance I guess, but when you could compare them to a one loss SEC team, they probably are not in. The rest of the conference has some good teams not typically thought of as powerhouses, like Iowa, Nebraska, or Penn State. However, none of those teams have the prestige Georgia has to get in.
In the first round, Clemson will beat Oklahoma in one versus four game, and Alabama will beat Georgia in the two versus three game. For the third time in four years, Bama and Clemson will play for the championship, and for back-to-back years, Clemson’s stud QB, Trevor Lawrence, who will be coming off a Heisman trophy winning season, will win the title.
Moving to the NFL, this will also be at least semi-predictable. The Patriots will win their division. Shocking, I know. The Saints will also win their division behind Drew Brees’ first MVP season in a career that should have produced two or three MVPs.
I will skip through the regular season, but the playoffs will have the Colts, Chargers, Patriots, and Browns winning their divisions in the AFC. The Wildcards will be the Jaguars and Chiefs. The Chargers and Browns will have the first round byes, but the Browns will go into the bye in a sharp decline after losing their last three and be beat in their first playoff game by the third seeded Colts. The Chargers will lose to the Patriots, and Tom Brady will once again be in the AFC Championship game. However, I might be biased here, but the Colts will get over the hump and beat old man Brady.
The NFC will also look pretty similar to last year. The Bears, Saints, and Rams will all repeat as division champs. However, the Eagles will win their division instead of the Cowboys. The Wildcards will be the Falcons and 49ers. The Bear and Saints will get the bye. After the Eagles and 49ers get knocked out in the first round. Both the first and second seeded teams will advance to the NFC Championship game. The Bears will somehow quite Brees and go to the Super Bowl XLI rematch.
It will be a match up of a great Colts offense versus a great Bears defense. That often does not go well for the offenses. But Frank Reich, one of the NFL’s best coaches will figure out the Bears and win the Colts third Super Bowl, and second against the Bears in my lifetime.
By J.D. McKay
Sports at FC are finally upon us. After months of lifting in the new weight room and hours of practices over the summer, it is time to play. Expectations for every sports are high, which seems to be common over the past three years.
Volleyball starts the season off by playing Christian Academy at home tomorrow. But it is almost a month until the first rivalry game. They play New Albany on the road on Sept. 12. The biggest home rivalry games are against Providence on Sept. 18, and Jeff on Oct. 3. Providence is always a tough match, and the Pioneers often beat us in volleyball. Hopefully, this team will be the one to finally beat Providence. They are also in our sectional, so beating them in September could give us the upper hand later in sectionals.
One team that has a good chance of winning state is boys’ tennis. Last year, they graduated one significant senior, but returned several other players, including senior Alex Poe, who has been all-state, and senior Eric Whitehouse, who was all-conference last year. They finished in the Final Four last year, so it would not surprise me if they had another good year. They will hosting Providence tomorrow.
Girls’ golf is another sport that always does well. I do not know why that would change this year. Our three best players, sophomore Sophie Cook and junior Zoe Hoehn both return. They went one, two in sectionals, so I expect another top finish in sectionals from the pair. They play against New Albany on Aug. 27 at Covered Bridge Golf Course.
The other team that has a good shot at winning state is girls’ cross country. They have a great team led by senior Sydney Liddle, who was all-state last year. They came up just two points short last year in semi-state. They did graduate one runner, but the team is strong and deep enough that it should not be a hard replacement. The boys’ will also have a good team. Last year they won regionals and only graduated one runner. They should be able to repeat their regional victory behind senior twins David and Luke Heinemann. Neither team has a home meet this year.
Boys’ and girls’ soccer are both coming off sectional championships, but, the boys’ lost a big senior class. However, senior Xander Ochsner is one of the best players in Southern Indiana, and senior Drew Cromwell might be the most athletic senior at FC right now. Both seniors should be big players and leaders for this team. They play New Albany at home on Sept. 19.
The girls, on the other hand, lost some seniors, but this senior class is huge. Audrey Brumfield is a senior and headed to Murray State. Senior Katie Yankey, although hurt in the Turkey Bowl, will be back sooner than expected. Last season she was all-state and the Courier Journal best female soccer player in Kentuckiana. Along with six other seniors, many of whom have seen significant varsity action, they should lead the team to a successful year. The girls also play New Albany Sept. 19, before the boys’ game.
The last team to mention is football. The schedule has changed significantly over the off-season. Now, New Albany is Week Four, on Sept. 13, and Jeff is a week later. Both games are at home. There were a few key losses last season, but many players are young and returning. However, the biggest excitement is the change in sectional. Columbus East is now 6A. So that leaves New Albany, Jeff, and Bedford North Lawrence. That sectional is more open than it has been in years, so it could lead to an exciting October in Southern Indiana high school football.