The new look of Southside football will be unveiled Friday. Two high schools – Franklin Central and Perry Meridian – move from Conference Indiana with the Flashes going to the rugged Hoosier Crossroads Conference and Perry Meridian moving to the Mid-State. FC went 6-0 in league play last year and won its conference en route to having its first winning season since 2007.
The HCC becomes an eight-team league with the Flashes, Avon, Brownsburg, Fishers, Hamilton Southeastern, Noblesville, Westfield and Zionsville. FC opens play against Decatur Central; non-league games are at Decatur Central Friday and at home Aug. 24 against Roncalli. Arguably, the HCC easily could be considered the No. 2 football conference in the state with Avon and Brownsburg ranked among the top 10 in last season’s final coaches poll.
“No doubt, the HCC is a step up,” FC coach Grant Lewis said. “The kids know our brand of football is to be more physical and more disciplined. Our kids expect to win now; they don’t want to fall downhill.”
Perry Meridian becomes the largest school in the Mid-State with Decatur Central, Franklin, Greenwood, Martinsville, Mooresville, Plainfield and Whiteland. The Falcons are most familiar with Decatur Central and Greenwood after playing them for four consecutive years as non-conference foes. Perry Meridian coach Matt Henninger contends that Conference Indiana and the Mid-State are similar. He expects the Falcons to enjoy the short travel time from no farther than Martinsville instead of Bloomington, Columbus or Terre Haute.
“It makes a big difference because we will return home much earlier from our road games,” he said. “We are familiar with most teams, so I don’t think playing them will be much different.”
Franklin Central plays its home games on synthetic turf for the first time this season. The $1 million field will get its first workout when Roncalli visits Aug. 24. The turf features an additional layer of padding designed to lessen injuries.
“It’s the newest era of field turf,” Lewis said. “We have the finest stadium in the state. It is a point of pride for our players (because) they know the community believes in them, and they are very proud of that fact.” Roncalli’s grass field has also been replaced with synthetic turf.