With all of the crap that our buddy Blitz has taken from West Noble Nation the past few weeks, Outside the Huddle it would be only fair to head to Ligonier for our Week 11 Game of the Week between a pair of teams that are a combined 19-1.
Does West Noble have what it takes to knock off a perennial 3A power in Mishawaka Marian? Could the Knights struggle to stop Brandon Pruitt like everyone else has?
Let’s break this game down in detail
1. CONTRASTING TRENDS
West Noble is playing multiple postseason games for just the third time since 2002 and last played for a sectional title in 1990. The program has never won a sectional championship.
Meanwhile, Mishawaka Marian has captured four-consecutive sectional crowns and a pair of regional titles in the last five years.
The Knights (9-1) are battle tested in big games, while West Noble are the newbies. That doesn’t mean the Chargers can’t rise to the challenge, it is just that uncertainty that is definitely something to watch on Friday.
2. MARIAN’S ‘D’ v. BRANDON PRUITT
West Noble’s star two-way stud Brandon Pruitt has rushed for nearly 1,400 yards this season. His season low in yards was an 80-yard effort in a 34-7 drubbing of Garrett in Week 6.
Will Pruitt be able to run roughshod over a defense that is allowing just 5.2 points and has allowed no more than 15 points in any game this year?
3. PARTY IN LIGONIER
Make no mistake, the hype is big for this game in Ligonier. The Chargers as a program have not been 10-0 since 1981. With a win on Friday night, West Noble would be on the cusp of its first sectional championship in program history.
How much does the hype fire up the Chargers? How does Coach Monte Mawhorter take that energy and turn it into something positive?
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
BRANDON PRUITT, SENIOR, WEST NOBLE
Pruitt is averaging 7.4 yards PER CARRY for the Chargers. He has eight 100-plus-yard games and is 11 rushes away from 200 carries for the year.
Defensively, Pruit leads the team in tackles (76), TFL (27) and is second in sacks (10).
The kid is a beast on both sides of the ball. Keep your eye on No. 25.
MADDIX BOGUNIA, JUNIOR, MISHAWAKA MARIAN
This kid’s game is as cool as his name. The quarterback has thrown for 1,112 yards and 16 touchdowns this season while tossing only four picks.
The junior is also the Knights’ second-leading rusher with 320 yards and 12 scores.
West Noble has not faced many true dual-threat QBs. How do they combat Bogunia?
JOSH GROSS, SENIOR, WEST NOBLE
Gross is the perfect complement to Pruitt, a guy who take advantage when defenses focus on his senior teammate.
Gross has amassed over 900 all-purpose yards for the year, including over 500 rushing and 300 receiving yards. But perhaps is greatest asset this week will be on defense, where he has a team-high five interceptions and 63 tackles.
ISAAC HIBBS, SENIOR, MISHAWAKA MARIAN
This defensive end is a seriously bad dude when it comes to disruption. He has eight sacks and nine TFL on the year and could present a big problem on the edge for West Noble’s rushing attack.
Hibbs also has 51 tackles. The Chargers must get a body (or two) on Hibbs on most plays. Or stunt away from him.
KEYS TO VICTORY – MISHAWAKA MARIAN
1. STEAL THE MOMENTUM
West Noble is going to come out hype and excited from the opening kick. That energy could be good or it could be bad. Mishawaka Marian’s goal will be to make that energy turn into opportunities early on.
A big touchdown or key turnover early could swing the momentum into the Knights’ favor.
2. BOTTLE UP PRUITT
This could be easier said than done. No one has yet been able to shut down the senior running back for West Noble. Then again, the Chargers have not faced a defense the caliber of Mishawaka Marian.
The key will be to wrap up Pruitt when the Knights are able to get a hand on him. The Navy commit is too strong to be brought down by arm tackles.
KEYS TO VICTORY – WEST NOBLE
1. KEEP OPEN THE RUNNING LANES
The Chargers have to have some semblance of a running game in this one. It just has to. As good as quarterback Kyle Mawhorter is, being able to move the chains on the ground truly is the key to opening up things with the pass.
If West Noble cannot get Pruitt and Gross going on the ground, that’s very bad news.
This won’t be a problem, but belief could be shaken through the course of a game. No matter what happens early on, West Noble has the talent and the desire to win and advance to a sectional championship game. What it can’t do is get down if it falls behind, a rare instance this season in starting 10-0.