Rivalry week heats up in the Summit Athletic Conference, which is always fun. Elsewhere, teams who aren’t in the top position in their conference are really going to need so play at a top level and also hope for a little bit of help to catch up.
With games that aren’t expected to be major across the area, this is a week where we could see a lot of new names break out right in time for the postseason.
KAINE MOORE, BLUFFTON
The Tigers may be out of the ACAC title race, but they sit at 5-1 heading down the stretch of the season and their defense has been steady along the way. Moore (main image) has been one of their more steady hands and is coming off his three best games of the season on the defensive side of the football. He scored seven tackles against Woodlan, eight against Jay County and and last week he had six solo tackles and two assists against Southern Wells.
Moore has good lateral quickness and a heady defensive read. Tonight, the Tigers line up against Heritage, who has struggled offensively but is also coming off their first win of the season with some confidence. Moore’s ability to be a game changer may not be defined, but he has been a consistent contributor and at any moment, is due for a big breakout week.
JOSH GROSS, WEST NOBLE
The Chargers are better because Gross has been able to succeed all over the field. Sitting at 6-0, West Noble is in the driver’s seat in the NECC big division with Gross as a top two running back and receiver on the offensive end. And while Gross is fully capable of assisting on both side of the football, this could be a major week for him offensively. Save for a win over Prairie Heights, this week’s opponent Lakeland has given up a lot of points every week.
Gross has good moves in the open field and an even bigger will to get things done. Gross has been a blue collar performer for the Chargers who finds ways for his team to succeed first and foremost. Expect quarterback Kyle Mawhorter to find Gross early in often this week as West Noble plays host to the Lakers.
KAI ZACHARIAS, DEKALB
Zacharias is a multi-faceted weapon for the Barons and his receiving could be on full display tonight against Norwell. As seen in their 3-2 loss to Leo, Norwell has been able to be proficient at slowing the run game. If that is the case against DeKalb, then the Barons will need to go to the air more and Zacharias has been a big yardage target for them. Quarterback Evan Eshbach likes to throw the long ball and Zacharias has been able to haul in some of the longer Baron pass receptions all season.
Also the team’s place kicker, Zacharias’ role becomes even more significant if the Knights can stop DeKalb at or near the goal line. If this becomes a game of small scoring, then count on Zacharias to be critical too.
RONALD COLLINS III, NORTH SIDE
An ultimate team player, Collins III has gone wherever coach Mike Brevard has needed him over the first six weeks. He spent weeks 1-3 as the starting quarterback, then moved to wide receiver to accommodate the debut of Duce Taylor. He stayed at wideout last Friday in a loss to Homestead and time will tell where he will line up with the Totem Pole on the line.
No matter where he is, Collins III is going to be able to effect tonight’s rivalry game against South Side with his effort and athleticism. Although the success rate wasn’t great with him at quarterback, Collins was throwing some of the best balls of his career. As a receiver, he is a steady hand and perhaps the most reliable Legend receiver. His family has a history in the Totem Pole game and he led the Legends to taking it back last season.
JAYSHAWN UNDERWOOD, SNIDER
Underwood is leadings the Panthers this season with two interceptions, which is impressive seeing as how most teams will go out of their way to avoid throwing his way. As this week’s rivalry week opponent Northrop gets more comfortable throwing the ball as they have, that could mean major things for Underwood because he is sneaky good at his reads.
Also with a sack and 11 tackles on the year, Underwood is a solid defensive force and an emotional leader that will be hell bent on helping Snider claim Spuller Stadium as their own again this season.