It feels like yesterday that football practice kicked off in the summer and we eagerly anticipated the start of the 2018 high school football season.
It always goes fast, especially for those people (and animals) who love it.
Bishop Dwenger put a fine capper on the season for the area, winning its fifth state title in program history the day after Thanksgiving.
While the Saints brought home the hardware, we would be remiss not to hand out some other awards of note from an exciting season locally on the gridiron.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
JORDAN PRESLEY, BISHOP LUERS
When it comes to Blitz picking a player of the year, he asked himself one question – Who affected games in the biggest variety of ways?
You could make a case for a variety of different players, but Blitz is going with Presley.
The senior finished with close to 2,400 yards of total offense for a team that fell one win short of the state finals. He scored 13 touchdowns on the ground, he grabbed nine scores in the passing game and he returned three kicks to the house.
He also dabbled a bit on defense, although not as much as he did as a junior.
Presley was a threat on every snap of the football. He does it all, from busting an inside run for a big play to beating a corner down the field for a score. For some reason, teams continued to kick to him in special teams, allowing him to further impact the game.
The parameters for “Player of the Year” are different for every person. For Blitz, Presley checks all the boxes.
HONORABLE MENTION: Joe Tippmann, Bishop Dwenger; Norman Knapke, Bishop Luers; Ethan Hoover, Snider.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER
LOGAN MACKLIN, ADAMS CENTRAL
In Blitz’s world, Player of the Year and MVP are two separate awards. The MVP honor is just what the acronym is – which player was the most valuable to their team’s success?
You could go in a lot of different directions here, but I don’t think there is any doubt that it is Macklin. He led Adams Central’s run to semistate with the most rushing yards on the team, while also being one of the Flying Jets’ leaders in receiving and tackles.
Adams Central would have plenty of success without Macklin, but the second-best 1A team in the state? That’s tough to say.
HONORABLE MENTION: Everett Johnson, Bluffton; Brandon Pruitt, West Noble; Bailey Parker, East Noble.
COACH OF THE YEAR
DERRICK MOORE, WAYNE
If you didn’t hear about Wayne in the pre-season, chances are you are not on social media.
The hype around the Generals loomed large, but they delivered with a 9-3 record, just the second time since 1997 that the program has reached the nine-win plateau.
You can make a case for other coaches here, but what puts it over the top for Moore is the things he has to deal with off the field. Being a coach and a teacher in Fort Wayne Community Schools is not easy. They are long days dealing with a lot of crap (to put it mildly) before even getting a chance to practice your passion – coaching football.
Coaching is largely a thankless job everywhere, but at Wayne the situation is different and much more difficult. Moore and his team excelled despite all the obstacles.
HONORABLE MENTION: Jason Garrett, Bishop Dwenger; Andy Thomas, Angola; Michael Mosser, Adams Central; Monte Mawhorter, West Noble.
GAME OF THE YEAR
BISHOP DWENGER 14, WAYNE 13, 4A sectional title game
When Griffin Eifert picked off a Brandan Young pass in the end zone, it clinched a sectional championship for the Saints in a wild back-and-forth contest at Wayne Stadium in early November.
Brenden Lytle completed his one and only pass of the game with less than five minutes left in regulation, a nine-yard strike to Vinnie Tippmann. The extra point by Michael Garrett gave the Saints their first and only lead of the game.
Wayne’s missed PAT on its second touchdown left the door open for a Bishop Dwenger comeback, but the Generals had nothing to be ashamed of. It was a physical, emotional battle between the two best teams in the SAC this year (yes, I said it).
The Saints went on to win a state title. One wonders if Wayne had triumphed, we would have had a similar result.
Sure, that final Dwenger game can make the case for being the winner here, but Blitz is going with the all-local matchup.
HONORABLE MENTION: Bishop Dwenger vs. Evansville Central, 4A state title game; Wayne vs. Northrop, Week 3; Columbia City vs. Norwell, Week 9; Bluffton vs. Jay County; Week 5; Bishop Luers vs. North Side, Week 5; Bishop Luers vs. Concordia, Week 4.
How does an 0-9 team become the biggest surprise of the year? By winning two games and reaching the sectional championship of course.
It was no shock that the Braves were able to beat Garrett to open postseason play, but to take down Concordia on the road was the biggest surprise of the season.
While not an elite Cadets team, we all knew (or thought we knew) that the winner of the Concordia-Bishop Luers sectional final matchup would have a great shot at a deep postseason run.
Instead, Marty Ballard and his Braves ruined the SAC party in Sectional 28.
One week later, Bellmont scored first and hung around against Bishop Luers in a 27-14 loss.
In a season that saw surprises almost every week in the SAC, Bellmont shined brightest.
HONORABLE MENTION: Parity in the SAC; Carroll’s struggles; under-.500 season for Woodlan.