It's finally here. Week one. Football season in Indiana is back.
With it are the hopes and dreams of a successful season, one which ends in holding up trophies and being crowned as one of the best teams in the state. So, without further hesitation, here is the Reporter-Times area preseason football poll.
No. 5: Indian Creek
The Braves come in at No. 5 on our preseason rankings because they're the team with the most to prove. There's a new coach, an almost entirely new offense, a young defense and they finished last season with a 3-8 record, the first time the program has finished under .500 since 2001.
All that said, Indian Creek is also a team with a lot of potential this season. Head coach Casey Gillin brings a bout of excitement. He, and senior quarterback Arjun Lothe, can potentially inject life into an offense that sputtered last season, averaging 13.2 points per game. The defense, which allowed 29.6 points per contest in 2021, will also need to take a step forward.
No. 4: Monrovia
The No. 4 placement is no knock of the Bulldogs, it's just tough for a Class 3A school with 531 students to top the talent pool of the front three teams, which are considerably larger. Monrovia re-established itself among the small school levels last season, finishing with a 7-4 record after going 2-18 in its previous two seasons.
A large part of last season's success was the team's fierce defense. Unfortunately for the Bulldogs, its top seven leading tacklers are gone, so there's a lot of shoes to fill on defense. However, on the offensive side, Monrovia will be just as explosive, if not more, as last season. Its style of clock control and wearing down opponents via the run should continue to have success, especially with the talented backfield the Bulldogs have.
This season's schedule will be a difficult one, so how the team responds early will be interesting to watch.
No. 3: Martinsville
Martinsville has the most talent returning to its roster this season and are fresh off a second consecutive sectional championship game berth. It's arguable the Artesians could be the local team to make the biggest leap, and it's certainly possible the team ascends the rankings by mid-season, but for now Martinsville sits at No. 3.
The reality is that while the Artesians have a roster packed with talent, there's still a lot to prove. 2021 ushered in the program's first winning season since 2018, finishing 7-5. However, in its two meetings with Mooresville and Decatur Central, the Pioneers and Hawks prevailed by large margins, defeating Martinsville by a combined average of 33.5 points.
Roster-wise, the Artesians have what it takes to make big things happen in 2022. It's just a matter of execution.
No. 2: Decatur Central
Ordinarily the Hawks would be the team to come in at No. 1. They've undoubtedly been the team to beat around the area, and Mid-State Conference, for at least six years. But the losses endured to graduation have them come in at No. 2 in our preseason rankings.
Replacing talents like Javon Tracy (Miami, OH), Kaleb and Keenan Hicks (Indiana Wesleyan), Brandon Smith (Western Michigan), Foster Wertz (Muskingum), Chaikou Diallo, Ammen Hicks-Jones (Indiana Wesleyan) and more is going to be difficult.
But that's not to say the Hawks won't have a successful year. There's still a ton of talent, like Virginia Tech commit Aycen Stevens, Halbert Aguirre, Alec Lawson, etc., that should set them up for yet another year of winning. Plus, head coach Kyle Enright knows how to get the best out of his team.
With Cathedral now in Class 6A, the hunger for the Hawks to make a return to the Class 5A state championship game will only be stronger.
No. 1: Mooresville
As long as Mike Gillin is coaching the Pioneers, the team is going to be a threat in Class 4A. But when an All-State quarterback like Nick Patterson is running the show? That only amplifies things.
True, Mooresville is going to need to sort out its defense in the team's opening weeks, but that's really where the concerns end. The group of wide receivers are all experienced and have plenty of playing time with Patterson, and running back Brandon Wilson is someone the Pioneers have a lot of faith in to produce this season. Plus, with full trust in his knee completely healed, Patterson's expected to make a splash in the ground game as well.
These advantages make the Pioneers the area's preseason No. 1.
Contact reporter Devin Voss at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter at @DevinVoss23.
This article originally appeared on The Reporter Times: Here's the Reporter-Times preseason football poll