Blitz wraps up his sectional previews by looking at 6A and Sectional 3.
Remember when people were bashing the Panthers early in the year? That was cute.
Sure, this isn’t a dominant Snider team, but it is still one of the best squads in the north regardless of class. Victories over Northrop, Bishop Dwenger and Bishop Luers to conclude the regular season has shown that the Panthers appear to have regained a lot of that Snider mojo.
Quarterback Jon Barnes has developed into a player that the Snider coaching staff can trust in making plays when needed. I am not sure that was the case in Week 2 when the Carroll defense was stifling and took away all semblance of a pass game.
Defensively, Gianini Belizaire, Ethan Hoover and Bam Scott are three of the best players at their positions in the area. In a sectional where points will be plentiful, defensive stops may be few and far between, but of paramount importance.
The Spartans want another shot at Snider and will get it if both teams advance. In Week 5, the Homestead offense was anemic in a 23-7 loss to the Panthers.
But the Spartans have not lost since, including a defeat of Wayne a few weeks ago. The defense is arguably the best in a decade for Homestead, anchored by the beast that is senior linebacker Cam Rogers (81 tackles, 9 TFL, 7 sacks).
In Blitz’s mind, the Spartans’ chances to win their third sectional title in four years rests with the running game. Sophomore Braeden Hardwick has found space to run behind a physical offensive line in the second half of the year. If Homestead can control the line of scrimmage and move the chains offensively, it has a shot.
This team has been an enigma all year long. A big win over Snider has been overshadowed by blowout defeats to the likes of Northrop, Homestead and Concordia.
The frustrating thing has been there has been no consistency in how Carroll loses games. One week the defense will look subpar, the next week the offense cannot get anything going.
With an offense that has a very good quarterback in Gaven Vogt, Carroll is a threat in any game it plays.
Speaking of offensive threats, Northrop has plenty of them. Bailey Meerzo. Jeremiah Green. Quelen Pettus. Davieun Berry. All are capable of breaking a big play anytime.
The Bruins have just three wins, but two close losses – 41-40 to Wayne and 45-43 to Bishop Luers – make the season record a bit misleading.
Northrop has not won a postseason game since 2004, the longest skid in the SAC.