Coach’s Corner is a weekly feature at Outside the Huddle written by Kevin Merz, former Bishop Dwenger quarterback and North Side offensive coordinator.

Over 1,00 total yards, 43 points per game, a Division I basketball player pulling the trigger where he is yet to turn the football over, an unselfish wide receiver doing what is best for his team and a scheme which is as balanced as it is explosive.

All these spell possible doom for Homestead’s SAC opponents.

The Spartans have been every bit as advertised through the first three games of the 2019 season. Most impressive perhaps is the quick start they have grown accustomed to generating. The 99 FIRST HALF points scored this year if taken as their team total would put Homestead 4th in the SAC in scoring!

Getting off to a fast start is something coaches preach, but also can very much control. Good game planning prior to and during the opening few possessions is critical to being able to score early and often. Homestead offensive coordinator Bill Skelton does a masterful job calling plays, often giving multiple formation looks early in the game so his guys upstairs can relay what defenses they are getting against different formations, allowing Bill to use his weapons to attack that specific look.

When talking weapons in this conference, Homestead may have an argument as the most complete offensive unit in the city (at least so far).

Junior basketball standout (and pretty darn good quarterback) Luke Goode has thrown for 678 yards and 10 touchdowns in limited action due to early-season blowouts. More impressive than the yardage may be his decision making. Goode has yet to turn the ball over and for a junior to be this accurate and this smart with the football already bodes extremely well for the immediate future of Homestead football.

Braeden Hardwick shoulders the load on the ground for the Spartans, amassing 411 yards rushing and seven touchdowns. The ability to mix in some power run game from the gun with the accuracy and athleticism of Goode makes Homestead formidable in any conditions rather than just the pass-happy air raid we have seen in recent years from the Spartans.

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Homestead running back Braeden Hardwick moves through the Bishop Luers defense during a September 6 game. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

Jake Archbold, as unselfish a player as they come, has moved to wideout, adding 11 catches for 160 yards with nearly half of those going for scores and adding some toughness to the outside receiving group.

Homestead will certainly face its greatest test yet this Friday as it travels to undefeated Bishop Dwenger, but this offense just feels different. Excellent coaching, the ability to
check to any play at the line of scrimmage with their unique signaling system, multiple
formations, a plethora of weapons and a balance between run and pass will keep the Saints, and every SAC opponent, guessing what will come next when playing the Spartans this year.

SPEAKING OF DWENGER

Hats off to Coach Mark Watts and the entire Bishop Dwenger offensive staff on not being afraid to adapt to the always-changing game that is high school football.

Many were critical (myself included) at how one dimensional Dwenger was last year offensively and I couldn’t be more impressed so far this season with the conscious decision to be more dynamic on offense.

Junior quarterback Brenden Lytle has already put the ball in the air 45 times this year, which seems like more than he threw it the entire 2018 season. Lytle has connected
on 66 percent of those strikes for 463 yards and five scores while only throwing one interception.

Bishop Dwenger is and always will be a run-first team. The Saints have run the ball 100 times this season for 700 yards and 13 scores. However, the options they have found in weapons like Patrick O’Keefe, speedster Michael Ledo Jr., Patrick Finley and Griffin Eifert make the Saints so much more dynamic and difficult to prepare for than in years past.

While it is not easy to adjust what you do (especially after a state title in 2018) I give nothing but credit to that coaching staff in allowing more modern looks to be incorporated into what makes Bishop Dwenger good ol’ Bishop Dwenger offensively. If the Saints can be close to 60-40 in a run-pass balance and stay healthy, I cannot see a season that doesn’t end with a trip to the state finals in Class 5A, likely against New Palestine.

THAT’S TWO FOR THE “OLD GUYS”

Prior to this year, Northrop had not started a football season 2-1 or better since 2006, when Coach Ernie Bojrab led the Bruins to a 5-5 season. Coach Jason Doerffler is a phenomenal young coach whose wins will come with experience and time, two things he has surrounded himself with as much as anyone in the state.

Dean Doerffler (Jason’s dad and former coach of the Concordia Cadets) put 106 games of head coaching experience under his belt before he came to assist his son at Northrop.

Tim Martone has been around high school football for well over 30 years, with four of those being the Bruins’ head coach from 2010-2013.

Mike Neuman (linebacker coach) has been all over the city of Fort Wayne coaching, always bringing fast and physical linebacker play to any program he is a part of and has done so for well over 20 years now!

These three men bring a wealth of knowledge, experience, and fundamental, disciplined outlooks to a program starving for conference relevancy yet again.

Lou Holtz famously said “I’ve been 18, you’ve never been 73” when referring to age and
experience, both of which Jason has incorporated into his program, bringing a calming sense to the sidelines when things get tight late in games.

Northrop isn’t over that hump quite yet, but the mix of young coaches in Jason Doerffler, receivers coach Ben Martone (son of Tim) along with the experience of Dean Doerffler, Tim Martone, and Neuman might just be the secret formula to help the Bruins throw another few tallies in the win column, and maybe even surprise one of the big boys this season!

IF YOUR TEAM MAKES IT TO STATE, PLAN ON PLAYING…

6A: WARREN CENTRAL

More impressive than the two wins by the Warriors this season is the three-point loss to national power Louisville Trinity 17-14 two weeks ago. The Warriors are no stranger to playing Thanksgiving weekend, amassing seven state football titles since 2003 and being recognized as a growing national power from publications like “USA Today.” Avon is currently ranked No. 1 in the state Sagarin Ratings, but when the chips are down during tournament time, Warren Central is the most likely team out of the Indianapolis area playing for a state championship.

5A: NEW PALESTINE (HONORABLE MENTION: CATHEDRAL)

If this article had been written last week, there would have been no mention of Indianapolis Cathedral, just several paragraphs on what New Pal does so well offensively and why it might be the toughest team in the state to stop on offense.

That feeling has not changed as New Pal still scores a ridiculous 49 points per game, boasts the new Indiana all-time leading rusher and a coach who is 77-4 in seven seasons with the Dragons, winning two state championships and playing second fiddle in arguably the greatest state title game in history (64-61 loss to Snider).

Grabbing my attention though about Cathedral is their schedule, beating Cincinnati power house Cincinnati Moeller 28-0 and losing in heartbreak fashion to Cincinnati Elder 38-31 in overtime a week ago. I still feel like no one in the state regardless of class
can slow down what New Pal does on offense, but Cathedral can certainly give them a
test in their expected regional matchup in the playoffs.

Cathedral will always have the advantage because of its schedule, being able to talk to their kids and tell them truthfully “we are the best this opponent has seen all year, they are not the best we have seen all year because of who we play” and that calms the nerves of a big-game situation.

4A-1A: I don’t feel like we have a legitimate contender in these classes to represent Fort Wayne during Thanksgiving weekend, but a quick run down after three weeks of who I would think represent the South in those classes are:

4A: Evansville Memorial
3A: Indianapolis Chatard
2A: Evansville Mater Dei
1A: Indianapolis Lutheran

Coach’s Corner appears every Monday during the prep football season at Outside the Huddle.

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