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 4AA and Sectional 19.
EAST NOBLE (9-0)
The Knights are undefeated, averaging 38 points per game and have held their last six opponents to eight points or less.
The offense is explosive, the defense is dynamic and this program is due – 16 years without a sectional championship.
The road is by no means easy, but it is manageable.
The Panthers have had recent success against East Noble, having knocked the Knights out of the playoffs last year in a 46-35 victory in Kendallville.
This year’s squad isn’t as dominant as last season, but it is still a quality team whose three losses came to a trio of teams that are a combined 23-4.
NorthWood won’t see East Noble until the sectional title game if it can advance that far.
Are the Lions good enough to beat every team not named East Noble in this sectional? Yes.
Can it do better than a 35-7 loss to the Knights if they meet again? Maybe.
Leo is a better team that it was mid-season when it first faced East Noble, particularly as sophomore quarterback Jackson Barbour has found his footing. That said, 28 points is a lot to make up in a rematch.
The Barons are another team that had one shot at East Noble already, also losing 35-7 to the Knights.
DeKalb will have to dispatch of pesky NE8 foe Columbia City in the opening round to get another chance to face East Noble. The running game is exceptional with Landon Miller and Tanner Day, but it was shut down by the Knights the first time around.
COLUMBIA CITY (5-4)
Consider the Eagles excited to get another shot at DeKalb, a team they feel they had on the ropes in Week 5 before the Barons came back to win 20-17.
The momentum found in a Week 9 victory over Norwell has helped refocus this team after four straight defeats followed a 4-0 start.
Is sophomore Greg Bolt ready to lead this team to an upset? He doesn’t have to wait until the second round against East Noble to get his shot with DeKalb looming on Friday.
The Raiders have won just once since Week 3. The schedule has been tough in the Northern Lakes Conference, with so many teams better on paper in this field, it is tough to see Northridge knocking off East Noble in Round 1.
Winners of four of their last five regular-season games, Coach Andy Thomas’ team found some traction towards the end of the season.
The two-time defending champions of this sectional, the Hornets would like nothing more than to make it three straight, but it won’t be easy.
While the offense has made strides and the defense has tightened up, the team must go on the road to face a Leo team that knocked them off by 20 earlier this year.
Blitz feels for Wawasee, arguably the lone team that he can’t envision a scenario in which the team wins a game in the sectional. NorthWood, the first-round foe, pounded the Warriors by 30 earlier this season.
PLAYERS TO WATCH
BAILEY PARKER, SENIOR, EAST NOBLE
I mean, who else? Parker has accumulated 2,677 yards of total offense and has been a part of 39 touchdowns (28 passing and 11 rushing).
Oh, he also has 57 tackles and a team-high three interceptions.
NATE NEWCOMER, JUNIOR, NORTHWOOD
NorthWood has a team has rushed for over 2,700 yards and 32 touchdowns this year, so safe to say the Panthers are at their best when they can roll opponents on the ground.
Newcomer is NorthWood’s leading rusher, just 18 yards shy of 1,000 to go along with 11 touchdowns.
PEYTON WALL, SENIOR, LEO
The two-way stud is the primary threat for the Lions offense and the single player that defenses have to game plan for on a weekly basis.
Wall can beat you with his ball carrying prowess or his ability to lay a big hit or cause a fumble defensively. Pick your poison.
LANDON MILLER, SENIOR, DEKALB
Miller leads a stout rushing attack for the Barons, having rushed for over 1,000 yards and over a dozen touchdowns.
If DeKalb sees East Noble again, it must play keep away with the ball and convert long drives into scores. Miller and rushing mate Tanner Jack can fill that role.
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