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Gorches: Boone Grove making its presence known

Boone Grove's Kyle Wolfe (right) catches ball end zone for Wolfves first score board second quarter during Boone Grove's game

Boone Grove's Kyle Wolfe (right) catches the ball in the end zone for the Wolfves first score on the board in the second quarter during Boone Grove's game against North Judson at the Valparaiso University football stadium Valparaiso, Ind. Saturday September 8, 2012. | Stephanie Dowell~Sun-Times Media

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Updated: October 15, 2012 10:00AM



So there I was on Sunday evening performing my weekly volunteer duty as the Post-Tribune’s voter in The Associated Press’ Indiana high school football poll, and I got down to Class 2A.

The process is quite simple, but tedious if a media member wants to do it right: Choose spots 1 through 10 with drop-down menus in each class. If you’re doing your homework, you check last week’s polls (AP and coaches) and see how each team did compared to others.

And while there are surely plenty of homers involved in the poll — which awards two points for a 10th-place vote, up to 20 points for a first-place vote — I truly believed Boone Grove deserved a spot.

Much to my surprise, Boone Grove wasn’t in the list of 2A schools.

I did a double take. The Wolves are in their second year of IHSAA eligibility, so The Associated Press couldn’t have made the mistake of completely forgetting about Boone Grove, right?

(Actually, it’s not the AP that organizes and compiles the poll. In this day and age of outsourcing duties that used to be simple when staffs were bigger, it’s done by the Spokane Data Center in Spokane, Wash.)

Was Boone Grove listed in a different class by mistake? Nope.

The school that has started 4-0 after going 1-9 in its first IHSAA season didn’t exist, according to Spokane Data Center.

So I emailed the nice woman out of Spokane named Catherine who sends out reminders and poll results and informed her of Boone’s nonexistence. She apologized, immediately corrected it and asked me where I was going to put the Wolves so she could correct my poll. I chose No. 9, which wound up giving them all four of their points in the “others receiving votes” listing.

Second-year Boone coach Tony Tinkel wasn’t too fazed by the mishap. He even chuckled.

“That’s OK. I don’t worry about the polls,” he said. “I told the kids on Monday night not to worry about them and that we just need to stick together and work together each week. It’s nice (to see your name in the poll) and it talks about what these guys have done on the field.”

What they have done on the field is quite extraordinary. That’s a big, sometimes overused word in sports, but I truly think it applies to the Porter County Conference school that has delved into football without much hesitation and looks like it knows what it’s doing.

Maybe the four victories aren’t overly impressive. Beating a down Wheeler squad isn’t as surprising as it seemed in Week 1. The Wolves barely beat Bishop Noll in Week 2, though the Warriors look like they’re better than in recent years. Beating Lew Wallace isn’t difficult, though Boone lost to the Hornets last year.

But last Saturday’s thrilling 36-35 win over North Judson, always a strong program, opened my eyes.

I’m sure it opened other people’s eyes, too. Maybe it opened the eyes of other AP voters who couldn’t vote for the Wolves while they were nonexistent.

“It’s the type of game we needed,” Tinkel said. “It showed our kids we can play with anyone and compete.”

It also showed Tinkel has some guts. Boone was down a touchdown late when quarterback Dean Hill connected with Kyle Wolfe on a 60-yard TD with 15 seconds left, then hit Tommy Burton on a pass for the two-point conversion to get the win instead of the simple extra point to force overtime.

I love it. Go for the 4-0 start — one of only five region teams still undefeated. It also endears a coach to his players.

“Watching these guys grow from last year, being more dedicated in the weight room and more mature, it’s a huge difference,” said Tinkel, who was an assistant coach the first two years of the program before becoming head coach before last season.

The gutsy decision should also resonate with voters. If the Wolves can pull off another win over a tough Bowman Academy squad on Friday, maybe they’ll get more votes — now that they exist.



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