And just like that, we have just one week left in the regular season.
On Sunday, the sectional pairings will be released and we won’t stop talking about when Team A is going to play Team B.
But for now, let’s break down Week 8, including another wild slate of games in the SAC.
- It amazed me just how much people wanted to pile on Snider for its early-season loss to Carroll, with more jumping on board after the Panthers fell to Wayne.I guess when you’re a program that has only lost multiple games in the regular season three times in the last seven years, that happens. But it definitely shows just how eager people are to tear down the best.Fact was, Snider was going to need some time to find its footing with so much production lost to graduation. Now, the Panthers are rounding into form, evidenced by Friday’s 21-13 victory over Bishop Dwenger.For the second straight week, Jon Barnes Jr. looked the part of a QB capable of leading a team to a win by making plays. Arguably his favorite target is Simon Dellinger, who is a mismatch at tight end with his 6-foot-6 frame and rugged physicality.But perhaps the greatest kudos need to go to the offensive line. Against Carroll in Week 2, the offensive front was dominated at a level rarely seen with Snider in a decade. On Friday, that same line held in check a Saints defensive front that has been as disruptive as any in the area in 2018. Both A’nyis Lockett and Lenny Bennett finished with over 100 yards rushing. They will get the praise, but the props need to go to the OL.
- Concordia dropping 47 points on Carroll and winning by 26 was jaw dropping in itself, but the play of sophomore QB Brandon Davis has me salivating about 2019 and beyond.Davis got significant playing time a year ago when Jake Byrd was out with a thumb injury, looking very much the part of a freshman finding his way after being thrust into varsity action before he was ready. This year, Davis looks much more comfortable in the pocket and with his throws. On Friday, he completed 10-of-14 passes for 208 yards and a score as he split time with Byrd.In a close loss to Wayne the week before, Davis threw for two touchdowns and, more importantly, did not throw an interception.Don’t be surprised if Davis is the best all-around QB in the SAC as a junior in 2019.
- One of the (many) games that Blitz was wrong about on Friday was Homestead and Wayne. I had Wayne rising to the occasion, but it was instead the Spartans that prevailed.
Homestead over the last two weeks has made mincemeat of its rival in Carroll and followed it up by going on the road in the wet to beat a good Generals squad.Might Sparty be a threat to Snider in sectional play? Their first meeting was a 23-7 Panthers win so…we will see.
- Speaking of Wayne, time to refocus. The Victory Bell is likely out of reach and the win over Snider is now a distant memory.Sectional 20 appears destined to come down to a rematch between Dwenger and the Generals, something Wayne has wanted since the Week 1 shutout defeat at Zollner.The key player going forward for the Generals may be Keshaun Fields, who rushed for 109 yards and a score on Friday. The junior has proven to be Wayne’s most consistent running threat in playing all eight games, although he has struggled to find room to maneuver in key opportunities. In order to open up the field for Brandan Young at QB in the passing game, the ability of Wayne to run the ball, like it was able to when needed against Snider, is going to be a key in the postseason.
- When it comes to earning victories, Northrop usually does it on the back of its offense.
On Friday, it was the defense that keyed the 43-37 victory over North Side. A pair of pick-six touchdowns, including a 95-yard pick and run by Amarion Green, helped Northrop to its third victory of the year.The three wins don’t sound like much, but it is the first time the program has reached that mark in a year since 2012.
- If there was any doubt that Kaiden Harshberger is the NE8 Offensive Player of the Year, last not dispelled all doubts.
The East Noble senior entered Friday’s game with New Haven with 1,219 total yards and 15 touchdowns on the year, then added 265 more yards and five scores to that in a rout of the Bulldogs that secured the NE8 championship.In the hype around 4A teams like Angola, Dwenger and Wayne, NO ONE is talking about the 7-1 Knights. Should that change?
- Leo quarterback A.J. Restivo became the program’s all-time leading passer in Friday’s 31-10 victory at Columbia City.The Lions are going to be that tough out in Sectional 20 that no one is going to want to play. While the overall body of work isn’t overly impressive, the 5-3 record includes a pair of single-digit losses to New Haven and East Noble.Restivo has built up rapport with a new group of wide receivers throughout the season after last year’s personnel grouping was gutted by graduation. What Restivo did on Friday was take what the Columbia City defense gave him underneath before taking some shots of the top. He looked the part of a veteran QB, and veteran QBs are dangerous in the playoffs.
- Your requisite Adams Central mention here. Parker Bates. Logan Macklin. Jalen Hammond. Repeat.
- James Arnold is going to end up being South Adams’ all-time leading passer.
Just a sophomore, the kid continues to put up big numbers, throwing for 256 yards and four touchdowns in a 28-15 victory over Woodlan on Friday.I have said it before and I will say it again, this South Adams team in two years will be what Adams Central is this year. And Arnold will be leading the way.
- One week after giving up 47 points to Lakeland, the West Noble defense came to play and held previously-undefeated Churubusco to 14 points in a three-point victory.
Perhaps we should have seen this coming. In Week 4, the Chargers went to Angola and “held” the Hornets to 21 points in a loss. It didn’t look like much, but it showed that West Noble could rise to the challenge of facing a good team and limit a good offense.Brandon Pruitt remains one of the best players no one in the area has heard of in rushing for over 1,000 yards on the year. But it was teammate Josh Gross who scored the key touchdown with less than 30 seconds left on Friday on fourth-and-goal from the 1 to earn West Noble its first win over Churubusco in 13 years.