What better way to prepare for the start of sectional play than have Blitz break it all down for you?
All this week, Outside the Huddle will look at every area sectional and preview what is on tap beginning this Friday.
We continue today with Class 2A and Sectional 35.
BISHOP LUERS (2-7)
Blitz really debated internally about this one. Are the Knights TRULY the best team in this sectional? Eh, that is open for debate. But Blitz has really liked what he has seen from Bishop Luers the last few weeks. Despite the 35-0 loss to Snider in Week 9, the Knights were competitive.
Perhaps most importantly, Bishop Luers is as healthy as it has been since the beginning of the season. The Knights also have played by far the most difficult schedule out of anyone in this field.
Blitz is buying in, but he is still has some reservations.
The Blazers enter the playoffs winners of six straight games, including an impressive one-point win over Angola in Week 9.
Eastside averages over 350 yards per game. It has three players who have rushed for over 300 yards, including junior Matt Firestine (530 yards, 5 TDs).
Defensively, just two teams have scored more than 14 points on the Blazers.
In terms of resume, Eastside looks has a better one than Bishop Luers. But we have to factor in strength of schedule.
Can Bluffton win big games? It fell flat in two big-time regular-season showdowns against South Adams and Adams Central, being outscored 74-7 at home in those two games.
That said, this team has the talent to compete for a sectional championship if it can find the mental fortitude to be ready to take on solid teams. Many forget that Bluffton went on the road and beat Woodlan 13-6 in Week 4.
The Warriors are a sneaky pick in this sectional, but Blitz isn’t seeing it. Woodlan’s three wins have come against teams that are a combined 4-23.
Yes, the Warriors have had issues with health and eligibility and seem to have all hands on deck entering Friday at home against Eastside, but is it enough to beat some pretty darn talented squads?
The key will be the defense in Blitz’s mind. It impressed in the first half the last two weeks against South Adams and Adams Central. Can that continue?
Want an under-the-radar coach of the year candidate? How about Matt Thacker, who in his second year has led the Falcons from a winless season to four victories.
Unfortunately, the Falcons have a tough draw heading to Bluffton this Friday.
CENTRAL NOBLE (2-7)
It isn’t that the Cougars have not been competitive, it is just that they haven’t had enough offense against solid teams to be able to win. Heading to Bishop Luers this week? Not a good matchup.
PRAIRIE HEIGHTS (1-8)
The only blessing for the Panthers is that they open sectional play against winless Whitko.
Former Warsaw coach Phil Jensen should be able to get this program pointed in the right direction at some point. But it isn’t this year.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
JAMIC JOHNSON, SENIOR, BISHOP LUERS
It hasn’t been a senior year to remember (yet) for the Knights in general and Johnson in particular. In seven games, Johnson has 18 receptions for 227 yards and a single touchdown.
But Johnson should thrive in a sectional that lacks a considerable amount of defensive backs who can man up on him. Look for some big nights out of the senior the next few weeks.
LABAN DAVIS, SOPHOMORE, EASTSIDE
A 1,000-yard passer with 12 touchdowns, Davis has been overlooked by those within Fort Wayne and Allen County.
Can Davis help the Blazers capture a win on the road at Woodlan in Week 1? He is capable of doing that and more if Eastside can get rolling.
CODY MITTLESTEDT, SENIOR, BLUFFTON
The senior is averaging 184 all-purpose yards per game and is one of the offensive leaders for the Tigers.
Mittlestedt’s ability to contribute as a wide receiver and in the return game adds to his deadliness against opponents.
DARIN JACKSON, JUNIOR CENTRAL NOBLE
If the Cougars are going to have any shot to go to Bishop Luers and win in Week 10, Jackson will have to have a huge game.
The defensive end has amassed 62 tackles and 8.5 TFL for Central Noble.
These opinions represent those of Blitz and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Blitz on Twitter at Blitz_OTH