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A year ago, New Haven began the season 7-0, lost its final two regular-season games and then fell by upset to Norwell in sectional play.
Fast-forward to this season.
The Class 4A No. 5 Bulldogs are sitting at 6-0 and once again are in the driver's seat for the NHC crown.
Coach Jim Rowland and his team remember last season, but are not necessarily concerned that there will be a repeat of 2012 down the stretch.
“It is a whole new year, but you do learn lessons from the past,” Rowland said. “We talked about last year and how good of a team we were, but also where we had to improve.
“The biggest thing is that we are really not overlooking anybody.”
After a huge 41-35 victory over Carroll in Week 4, it would have been easy to have a letdown over the next two weeks against Norwell and Columbia City. But New Haven took care of business with a pair of victories by a combined score of 57-13.
“(A letdown) was a concern, especially after the big victory,” Rowland said. “The following week we were not as focused as we liked it, but we responded well.”
The Bulldogs have plenty of motivation entering their final three games against Bellmont, East Noble and Homestead.
The last two years New Haven has entered the Homestead game with a chance at a share of the NHC title, but lost.
The Bulldogs have never won an NHC championship.
“We really want to have a chance to win the NHC,” Rowland said. “We want to put ourselves in a position to finally take care of that.”
When it comes to the Warriors' offensive attack, everyone knows about running back Jaylin Bennett. The senior is averaging 192 yards per game on the ground and became Woodlan's all-time leading rusher against Prairie Heights in Week 5.
But wide receiver Greg White has been a perfect complement to the Bennett rushing machine.
White primarily lines up on the outside for Woodlan but occasionally works out of the Wildcat. He has just 14 catches on the year, but almost half of those have gone for touchdowns while he averages 22 yards per reception.
“We run a lot of power sets, and defenses load up on Jaylin,” Woodlan coach Sherwood Haydock said. “Greg is one of the better secrets in the area.”
Woodlan is riding a three-game winning streak entering this Friday's game at Leo, the program's longest win streak in five years.
Haydock is realistic about facing Leo, the No. 10 team in Class 4A but a squad Woodlan lost to by just five a year ago.
“Leo is probably better than us, but when you play somebody, you never know that night,” Haydock said. “If we play the way we have been playing and Leo makes some mistakes, it could be a game.”
Haydock looks at Friday as a great test for his team.
“We have our heads on where we will compete in 2A, we feel we can be very competitive in (the 2A playoffs),” Haydock said. “We are trying to keep our heads straight, no matter what happens (Friday).”
Winners of three of their last four games, the Cadets are feeling pretty good about themselves at 3-3.
But coach Tim Mannigel knows he will find out a lot more about his team over the next three weeks, with trips to Northrop and Brebeuf Jesuit and a home date against undefeated Lakeland.
“Lakeland is a possible sectional opponent for us, they will likely be undefeated when they play us and they are hard-nosed and physical,” Mannigel said. “And Brebeuf is really good.”
Playing their two nonconference games in the final two weeks of the season is unique for the Cadets, who are the only SAC team to do it. Some may have a preference on when the out-of-conference dates come, but Mannigel does not.
“I guess I don't really care, we play (nonconference teams) when they come,” Mannigel said. “It is a bit different when your conference team is finished then you play your nonconference, but we play them when they come. Our goal is still to be playing our best football when sectionals come.”
* South Side Athletic Director Tim Burton said over the weekend that he had no comment on the incident that happened with Indianapolis Tech last Friday that saw both benches clear after a late hit.
Burton said his superiors would meet today “most likely” on potential disciplinary actions regarding coaches and/or players.
* Wayne's 45-6 rout of Bishop Dwenger last Friday was the Generals' biggest margin of victory since a 61-0 shutout of Northrop in 2009.
* For the season, Leo has given up a total of 37 points. Of 22 other teams in the ACAC, NHC and SAC combined, only seven – Homestead, New Haven, East Noble, Columbia City, Concordia Lutheran, Wayne and Bishop Luers – have not given up 37 or more points in a single game.