Well, we are halfway there. Many teams have seen 50 percent of their season come and go and with all of the terrific individual performances we see each week, it makes it harder and harder to pinpoint five players to watch each Friday night.
But here we go with tonight’s group, the five guys we are watching as Week 6 takes off.
QUALEN PETTUS, NORTHROP
There is one game in the SAC tonight that looks, on paper, like it will be heavily contested. Northrop is going to be expecting a lot of players to make a difference if it s to reach its fourth win for the first time since 2012. And while the ground game has been efficient, it is the best pass catcher on the team that could do the most damage to Bishop Luers’ depleted troops.
Pettus (pictured) is averaging 13 yards per catch on his 18 receptions and his athletic prowess has been on full display with one of the team’s three aerial touchdowns. With 234 receiving yards, Pettus has been able to outmaneuver and outwork many defensive backs this year and tonight he should be a big part of the Bruin offense because of his speed, control and cutting ability.
PARKER TRACEY, HERITAGE
The Patriots have not had a stellar first half, nobody is going to debate that. Could they get things right this week with a Saturday afternoon battle against 1-4 Tri-County? If there is ever a time to do so, Week 6 is it.
Parker Tracey is the guy to make things happen if Heritage is to clear that zero from its record. The quarterback isn’t as much of a focus for the Patriot offense as the rushing game, but his throwing is something that will be crucial against Tri-County. At 34-for-83 for the season, Tracey needs to find some consistency in completing passes, something that could come on Saturday.
A big part of Tracey’s contribution is his energy and leadership. That is something the Patriots need and he is a guy who is able to bring that no matter the sport. If Tracey can provide in multiple areas, we could see Heritage break out of its slump.
JON BARNES JR., SNIDER
Snider doesn’t have the toughest test on its Homecoming night with the Wayne Generals visiting Spuller Stadium, but even if the competition was stout, we’d need to keep an eye on Barnes after last week’s explosive breakout. While most left last week talking about Homestead, it is hard pressed for anyone to leave the game talking about any individual above Barnes. He threw the ball well, he attacked on the ground with confidence and he found success in both areas.
What Snider can do with the remaining weeks of this season and into a tough gauntlet in Class 6A is going to hinge a decent amount on Barnes’ shoulders. The senior has been built for a run like this and after seeing him tear up the field last Friday, this week could just be another massive showcase game.
KAIN THORNTON, BLUFFTON
How do you follow up the best single receiving game in program history? Thornton has played a major athletic role in the Bluffton Tigers kind of quietly starting the season at 4-1 as Southern Wells visits tonight. Last week, Thornton had “just” 210 yards receiving on 10 catches and everyone is now very aware at how lethal the Thornton and Hayden Nern connection is.
Averaging almost 16 yards a catch and just under 100 yards per game receiving, Thornton has announced himself as one of the ACAC and area’s top pass catchers. He has great hands and the desire to go all out to catch a football. Southern Wells’ defense is giving up 39.25 points per game over its four losses. You do the math: if Bluffton airs it out, there is a good chance Thornton can reel it in.
LANE BURNS, EASTSIDE
As the Blazers have thrived, a lot of attention has gone to sophomore quarterback Laban Davis, but the playmaking and fleet footed nature of Burns have been a big catalyst in the pass game. Burns is the team’s leading receiver with 193 yards in the first four weeks before nearly doubling that last week in a win over Garrett.
Due to an error in stats reported to multiple outlets, Burns didn’t get the credit he deserved last week for his 130-plus yard, three touchdown performance. This came after he caught four passes for 95 yards and a pair of scores in a huge win over Churubusco a couple of weeks back. This junior is also in the top five on his team in tackles and has a pair on interceptions this season. Expect a big night from him against Prairie Heights that could with the Blazers holding sole possession of the NECC small division lead.