And then, there were three.
A trio of teams remain in the area following Friday’s chilly and blustery regionals throughout northern Indiana.
Let’s revisit each game, shall we?
SNIDER VS. CARMEL
– We knew that the Panthers were going to have a tough time with the Carmel defense, led by defensive studs like DE Beau Robbins and LB Joey Schmidt, but after the second-half performance in the sectional final against Homestead, there was hope that the unit could do just enough to give Snider a shot.
Unfortunately, Carmel was just too tough in a 20-6 victory. Quarterback Jon Barnes Jr. was picked off three times. A’Nyis Lockett averaged barely two yards per carry. Bruiser Lenny Bennett eeked out less than 20 yards on his seven carries.
– Blitz is not that sharp when it comes to this whole Tournament Success Factor thing, but he thinks he has at least one thing figured out.
Snider was bumped to 6A after a two-year stretch that saw them win a state title in 2015 and advance to semistate in 2016. But after no wins past sectional in the last two-year cycle, it is believed that the Panthers will drop back to Class 5A for the 2019 and 2020 seasons.
While Snider doesn’t back away from playing the best, there is no question that the road to a state title is much more manageable in 5A than 6A.
And speaking of classification changes, if Bishop Dwenger can win a state title, it will be bumped to Class 5A.
Snider vs. Dwenger playoff game anyone?
BISHOP DWENGER VS. ANGOLA
– What do you do one week after completing a single pass and hear the media pundits talk all week about your one-dimensional offense?
Why you throw the ball early and often of course in a 40-7 Dwenger victory.
After forcing a short punt on Angola’s opening possession, Bishop Dwenger caught the Hornets off guard with a play-action pass from Brenden Lytle to Patrick Finley for a 49-yard touchdown. It was the first of two connections for touchdowns on the night for the duo, with Lytle finishing with three total TD passes.
The Saints stayed aggressive by going for two. They failed to convert, but the message was obvious – Dwenger was going to attack Angola instead of trying to methodically work the ball down the field.
– Speaking of Finley, his return after a lengthy injury couldn’t have come at a better time for the Saints. The junior can change the game in all three facets with his speed and tenacity.
That was evidenced on the first touchdown of the game. Lytle’s throw was a lofty, sailing throw that took awhile to come down, all the while Finley was positioning himself, eventually making a quick move at the last possible moment to get loose and haul in the score.
Many will forget the Finley was arguably the best defensive back on the field for the Saints prior to his injury.
– Angola safety Ryan Brandt reminds Blitz of Mr. Drue Tranquill when it comes to exploding through gaps and blowing up run plays. The junior did it several times on Friday night in a losing effort.
The Hornets sold out on stopping the Dwenger run, often stacking nine guys in the box in an effort to make the Saints one dimensional. It didn’t work, as Dwenger not only was able to run all over the field but also pick apart the corners in single coverage.
Brandt was a lone bright spot for Angola on Friday. He is no doubt a D1-level safety.
MISHAWAKA MARIAN VS. BISHOP LUERS
– Jordan Presley surpassed 2,000 all-purpose yards for the season in Friday’s 42-6 demolition of Mishawaka Marian. Presley scored the first four touchdowns of the game with help from quarterback Norman Knapke.
Presley is a frustrating player for opposing teams to prepare for because he can beat you in a variety of different ways. He can turn the edge on a run or leak out of the backfield unnoticed (somehow) on a pass. He can run by a safety in deep coverage or he can accelerate away from a punt or kickoff cover team with ease.
Credit the Luers coaching staff for using Presley wisely. Last year, he saw much more defensive snaps than in 2018. That has kept him relatively fresh for offense and special teams deep into November.
– Remember the dumpster fire that was the Bishop Luers defense in the middle of the season? It surrendered 52 points and over 500 yards of offense to a North Side team that finished with just two wins in a three-point loss for the Knights.
But Friday, against a team that lives and dies by the run and torched Luers last year in the regional round, the defensive unit came to play. Mishawaka Marian was stymied at every opportunity, putting up a meaningless touchdown late to avoid the shutout.
Luers actually ended a streak of 29 consecutive games in which it had surrendered 10 or more points.
What a time to do it.
MONROE CENTRAL VS. ADAMS CENTRAL
– Not sure Parker Bates gets enough credit.
Sure, half the time Blitz calls him Hunter, his older brother, but it is not disrespect, merely the fact that he is as good, if not better, than his sibling.
We make so much about Logan Macklin, and for good reason. But his success on the offensive side of the football is a direct result of Bates getting him the football in position to succeed.
In Friday’s 38-12 road win on Friday, it was Bates who shined over Macklin, rushing for four touchdowns and hitting Chase Peterson for a 15-yard touchdown on his only throw of the game.
This team has risen to the occasion each and every week, with Bates at the forefront as the leader of the offense.
Can he and the Flying Jets ascend to the heights needed to take down Pioneer? Stay tuned.