Coach’s Corner is a weekly feature at Outside the Huddle written by Kevin Merz, former Bishop Dwenger quarterback and North Side offensive coordinator.
After seven weeks of the regular season, the conversation has trended towards which teams could make some noise in the playoffs.
In looking into what to write about this week, I felt compelled to compile some of the thoughts I have as we enter the final two weeks of the regular season.
BISHOP LUERS IS STILL MY FAVORITE TO WIN SECTIONAL 35
I understand Bishop Luers sits at 1-6, its offense is averaging less than 13 points per game and the defense has struggled to stop anyone, but hear me out!
The Knights have not lost a 2A sectional game since 2008 against state powerhouse Jimtown. There is certainly no one that scares Bishop Luers in Sectional 35. Bluffton sits at 6-1 but through no fault of its own has not played a single team who I would favor against Bishop Luers outside of South Adams. The athleticism, spread look and historic postseason success will all factor into the Knights turning a rough SAC season into a sectional championship when we are all said and done.
KINDIGS AND CATCHING FOOTBALLS GO HAND IN HAND
Jeren Kindig continues to be the sure-handed option for Concordia Lutheran this season on third downs and when a big play is needed down field. His 19 catches and 290 yards don’t do justice to the fact that he has shown up most when the Cadets truly needs a crucial catch.
Even more impressive is the fact that he is the third of three brothers who have all seemed to have played their careers with “STICK-EM” attached to their fingers.
Oldest brother Jacob was a sure-handed receiver for North Side nearly a decade ago and has followed up his toughness on the football field with a professional fighting career in MMA, his left hook arguably better than his spectacular catches made under the Friday night lights years ago.
Middle brother Jorden Kindig played in the slot for me when I was the then-Redskins offensive coordinator, always willing to go over the middle and make the big catch when called upon and deservingly being an all-conference selection for us in 2015. F
amilies succeeding both on the field and in life always brings a smile to my face and other coaches alike, so to see Jeren continue what his older brothers started is fun for all who know the family!
WANT TO BEAT SNIDER TWICE IN THE SAME SEASON? GOOD LUCK!
Since 1994, Snider has played a team in the postseason that it lost to during the regular season five times, going 4-1 in the rematches with the double losses coming in 2011 to Penn.
This is in large part due to the absolute obsession with attention to detail the Snider coaching staff pays to film, especially coming off losses. Homestead exposed so much on Snider’s defense that while I would expect a whole new scheme the second time around, I also expect some major variations on the classic Snider 4-4 defense in the rematch.
My eyes don’t lie to me very often, and I know with what I see Homestead is the superior team in all three phases of the game. However, Snider historically is excellent in revenge spots and I may die on this vine alone, but I will take the Panthers to get it done in sectional play again this season.
SOUTH ADAMS THIS YEAR IN THE SAC?
Someone brought up an interesting question to me this week after what the Starfires did to Adams Central, “How would they fare in the SAC this season?”
The answer is a complicated one as they are at the end of the day a Class 1A school who would consistently be facing 5A and 6A programs. But that doesn’t mean South Adams couldn’t compete this season in the conference.
Homestead, Dwenger, Snider and Carroll have too much size and athleticism for any 1A school, so let’s chalk those up as losses.
Northrop, Concordia, and North Side have superior athletes, but I wouldn’t be shocked to see South Adams hang around in those games later into the second half.
The bottom three teams (Bishop Luers, Wayne, and South Side) would all be up against a very challenging bunch from Berne! The Starfires are scrappy, well coached, and as fundamental as it gets. I wouldn’t be shocked to see them come out of the conference this year no worse than 3-6.
A fun scenario to play with, but for now I think they will be just fine with being our area’s best chance to bring home a state title in their own class! Make no mistake about it though; they are a really, really good football team!
NORTH SIDE MAY NOT BE AN EASY OUT THIS POSTSEASON
No team has caused me to do a 180 on them more than the Legends this season.
Duce Taylor provides a level of play at quarterback not seen there since 2013 when Michael Lovett III was pulling the trigger for North en route to an SAC title.
Coach Mike Brevard has seemingly cleaned up a lot of mental mistakes that the Legends made over the last few seasons and even earlier this year, allowing them to hang around in more games and giving them a chance to win them late.
I am not saying North Side beats Bishop Dwenger in Sectional 11 this season, but if there is a rematch, this is a different Legends squad then the team the Saints faced in August. I would not be surprised to see North hang around in that game a lot longer than the average fan may think. In the end, Bishop Dwenger will be too much for anyone in that sectional, but it’s nice to see the Legends heading back in a positive direction as a program!
PIVOTAL PROGRAM GAME FOR THE BRUINS THIS FRIDAY
It is hard to believe, and I had to go back and double check this information, but Northrop hasn’t turned in a winning season on the gridiron since 2003 under Coach Matt Stinson when the Bruins went 8-3.
Jason Doerffler has this Northrop squad sitting at 4-3 entering this week’s contest against North Side. A win by the Bruins on Friday, a presumed loss to Bishop Dwenger next week (sorry) and a favorable sectional draw against either the Legends or Goshen will put Northrop in a position to finish this season 6-5 and post its first winning season for Doerffler in his sixth year as the Bruins head man.
This may not sound like a lot to the average reader, but success breeds interest in programs. Northrop’s hallways are littered with kids who, if interested in coming out for football, could potentially wake a sleeping giant over the next few seasons. This week is a “program game” for Northrop and could lead to some major positive things to come in a short span!
HUDL SIDELINE, END ZONE CAMERAS, AND SATCH STRONG!
Arguably the biggest revolution in high school football the last five seasons is something fans might notice at games and wonder “What is that”?
Have you ever looked into the Snider end zone and seen a large pole with a Panthers football helmet sitting atop it? Snider (and many teams now around the area) take advantage of end zone cameras for in-game instant feedback for players and coaches alike.
The software program “Hudl” is as essential to high school programs now as the air we breathe, and the constant sharing of video from the camera crew operating the end zone camera to the coaches on the sidelines is something overlooked by most watching on Friday nights. The instant feedback provided by these behind the scenes workers is essential to being able to make on-the-fly adjustments and schematic changes crucial to a team’s success.
For example, Kurt Sanders and Eric Wilkens operate the Panthers’ end zone camera and any Snider coach will tell you they are as crucial to making adjustments as anyone on their staff.
A special shout out is in order as we conclude this topic as the father of one of the Snider camera operators continues his difficult battle with cancer. Mike “Satch” Sanders, a weekly reader of this column, continues to inspire family and friends alike, reminding us all to fight daily the battles we face no matter how big or small. Keep fighting your fight Mike, and those who you have impacted will continue to be “Satch Strong!”
Coach’s Corner appears every Monday during the prep football season at Outside the Huddle. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers.