Week 4 of the high school football season is here and conference races are heating up.
Here is a quick look at five players who could play integral roles in their teams’ success tonight.
GRIFFIN LITTLE, HOMESTEAD
Trevin Taylor is the wide receiver that garners the most attention from both the media and opposing defenses, but Little has been every bit as dangerous.
The 6-foot-1, 195-pound Little burst onto the scene in Week 1 when he hauled in seven receptions for 109 yards and two touchdowns against Northrop. The junior has only continued his onslaught on defenses since, amassing 16 catches for 281 yards and a score over the last two weeks.
Little is a perfect complement to Taylor on the opposite side. Defenses cannot key on both, nor can they stack defenders on one side of the ball to try and take away that side of the field.
Against a young but skilled Bishop Dwenger secondary tonight, Little will have to work for his touches, but will likely have plenty of opportunities to shine.
BRENDEN LYTLE, BISHOP DWENGER
Speaking of that Dwenger secondary, Lytle is a key cog in the back end of the Saints’ defense.
With Homestead’s prolific passing attack, the pressure will be on guys like Lytle, Griffin Eifert and a host of others in the defensive backfield to limit what the Spartans can do downfield.
The Saints have been terrific in taking away the deep ball so far this season, but apart from Wayne in the rain in Week 1, the competition hasn’t been great. That changes tonight.
Lytle already has three interceptions on the year. Can he add to it against Sparty?
BAILEY PARKER, EAST NOBLE
Andrew McCormick manned the quarterback position for the Knights for so long, it became an afterthought in terms of what you could expect from the signal caller.
But McCormick is gone, and Parker has assumed control of the offense.
It hasn’t necessarily been a smooth road. The junior has thrown four interceptions – including three in a 17-10 loss to Warsaw in Week 2 – but has also made some big plays in the clutch. Last week’s stat line of 17-of-24 passing for 170 yards and a score was his most complete game yet.
Tonight’s opponent is a sneaky competitive team in DeKalb, a squad that New Haven nor Angola could shake in a pair of close games recently. The Barons are also scoring 30 points per game, so Parker will need to make some throws to help the Knights light up the scoreboard.
Parker’s development through the season will be a big storyline to watch in Kendallville.
BLAKE MARSH, WARSAW
The junior wideout garnered some attention last week with a pair of touchdowns in a 32-29 loss to Plymouth, including being on the receiving end of a 31-yard hook and ladder for a touchdown that tied the game late in regulation.
When it comes to competing with the top teams in the Northern Lakes Conference, you have to score points. In new coach Bart Curtis’ offense, execution is paramount, even more so against squads like Plymouth and NorthWood.
Elkhart Memorial can put plenty of speed onto the field and is averaging 38 points in NLC games this year. It may not take trickery to get the ball into Marsh’s hands, but he will likely see some targets in big spots tonight.
EVERETT JOHNSON, BLUFFTON
The graduated Brandon Lockwood has given way to Johnson as the primary running back for the Tigers. It has worked out, with Johnson amassing 478 yards rushing and five touchdowns through three games.
The junior has not been held under 100 yards yet in a game while also being a mainstay on defense.
In tonight’s game against Woodlan, Johnson’s running prowess is the biggest asset for the Tigers, who are looking for some offensive rhythm after being held out of the end zone in last week’s loss to South Adams.
Johnson can help Bluffton control the clock and keep the ball away from a Woodlan offense that – while still finding its way – is still very dangerous.