And then there were three.
Regional week is typically where we “thin the herd” so to speak when it comes to area teams still alive in the playoffs. Blitz correctly predicted that Bishop Dwenger and East Noble would be two of the three remaining, but Adams Central? No one outside of Monroe had that one.
With one win now separating remaining teams and a berth in the state championship, let’s take a look back at the Friday regional action.
• We only needed one play to see just what Homestead was up against Friday night taking on Carmel.
On the Greyhounds’ first offensive play, Dylan Downing takes the handoff out of the shotgun on a simple play up the middle. Homestead is in a 3-3-5 stack defense, with corner Malik Mickens coming off the edge in run support as a seventh guy in the box. The big, powerful Carmel offensive front seals its blocks, with one lineman releasing and pancaking Cam Rogers at the second level. That springs Downing through the hole into the open field with Mickens having taken himself out of the play. Downing then makes a move and outruns the deep safety for a 67-yard touchdown.
Just twenty seconds into the game, Carmel was up 7-0.
While the Spartans tied the game shortly thereafter, the first play of the game was telling. Among SAC teams, only Snider was really able to consistently run the football against Homestead. But here was Carmel, doing it seemingly without difficulty right off the bat.
The Greyhounds finished the game with 274 yards rushing.
• Good teams are able to discern what their opponent does best and take it away.
For the Spartans, that something was the intermediate passing game playing off the run. Both of those things were limited by Carmel.
Homestead rushed for just 34 total yards with a long run of nine yards. Meanwhile, dominant wideout Griffin Little was held to a pair of receptions for 19 yards.
Even Week 12 hero Jake Archbold had difficulty. He was the recipient of the 21-yard pass from Luke Goode that scored the Spartans’ lone TD, but the senior finished with only 40 total yards.
• Remember when Brenden Lytle came alive during the postseason last year? Looks like the kid is doing it again.
The Bishop Dwenger junior threw for 155 yards and two touchdowns without an interception in the 35-21 win over Lafayette Harrison on Friday. He now has just seven incompletions total over the last two weeks.
While Griffin Eifert continues to be a key target, Michael Ledo Jr. was the most visible on Friday, accounting for 87 yards and a touchdown on five grabs.
Lytle’s play will be challenged next week, with undefeated Valparaiso having picked off 17 passes on the year.
– Bishop Dwenger’s 22nd all-time regional championship keeps it tied with Carmel for the most ever in football in Indiana. Both programs won their first sectional crowns in 1978 and have piled up the trophies ever since.
Who is right behind the Greyhounds and Saints? Bishop Chatard won its 20th regional with the win at Concordia. Bishop Luers sits at 19 all-time.
• As Blitz was headed to the Adams Central-South Adams game, he picked up the feed from 1400 AM previewing East Noble and Mississinewa. The broadcasters focused on Bailey Parker, his season numbers and how important it was for Ole Miss to slow down the senior.
A few hours later, Blitz headed out of Monroe listening to those very same broadcasters speak about how the Indians could not handle Parker.
See, having a chance to beat East Noble isn’t very hard to figure out. You have to limit Bailey Parker. The problem with that though, is no one can stop Mr. Parker. He went for 378 total yards in Friday’s victory – 241 through the air and 137 on the ground.
• Kudos to the Knights defense, which figured out what Mississinewa was trying to do in Friday’s game and shutting it completely down after halftime. At one point, East Noble went for it on 4th and medium from its own 39 yard line up nine points. It seemed like an absurd call, but it showed not only Coach Luke Amstutz’s confidence in his offense, but also his defense.
East Noble ended up not getting the first down, but forced a turnover on downs on Mississinewa’s following possession.
• If you had Concordia Lutheran staying in Friday’s game against Bishop Chatard past halftime, kudos to you.
The Cadets showed tremendous grit and confidence in going toe to toe with one of the best teams in the state regardless of class before falling 56-28.
While this team loses offensive stalwarts Jalen Vanderbosch and Jeren Kindig at wideout, quarterback Brandon Davis, running back Amir Drew and wide receiver Tyler Grossman will all be seniors in 2020, creating a triumvirate of power that will be very dangerous in the SAC.
Blitz also has noticed the two-way play of Kam Johnson in recent weeks, which included a 99-yard kickoff return for a touchdown on Friday night, as well as some great plays in run support from the defensive backfield. He could emerge as one of the best two-way players in the SAC next season.
With an offensive line that was completely overhauled entering this year, there will be more continuity up front as well for Coach Tim Mannigel’s squad.
In other words, despite Friday’s loss, the Cadets are still on an upward trajectory.
• The backbreaker for Eastside in Friday’s 42-9 loss came all the way back in the second quarter, and it was vintage Eastbrook.
The Panthers were moving the ball in typical Panthers fashion with their run-heavy wing-T offense. That’s when Dylan Bragg struck off the play action and found Isaiah Dalton behind the defense for a 46-yard score.
It was the first pass completion of the game for Eastbrook and it came at a crucial time, with the touchdown putting the Panthers up 21-9 in what had prior to that play been a close, back and forth game.
That play exemplified the difficulties of playing Eastbrook. As soon as it feels as if it has you thinking run, run, run, it hits you with the play action for a big play.
• Adams Central did all it needed to beat South Adams 19-7 on Friday, but it may have gotten a little luck as well.
It appeared as if South Adams scored on a James Arnold to Aidan Wanner pass in the first half that would have put the Starfires up 13-7 pending an extra point. But Wanner’s was ruled out of bounds. Blitz got a second look at the play via video camera and it appeared that Wanner’s feet were in.
Who knows what would have happened if South Adams had scored and went ahead. Could it have flipped momentum? The Starfires ended up turning the ball over on downs, getting nothing out of a drive that potentially could have been a game changer.
• Blake Heyerly was a man carrying the ball, but how about some love for Dallas Schwaller?
For seemingly the last decade, Adams Central was led by the Bates brothers, Parker and Hunter, at the quarterback spot. Schwaller got some playing time late in games a season ago, but he still felt like a step back at the spot for 2019.
But the senior was huge against the Starfires, not necessarily in the box score, but in his vocal leadership, encouragement and ability to command and calm the huddle on a huge night. Schwaller finished with just five completed passes, but he did not turn the ball over and managed an offense that was big on ball control and winning the time of possession battle.
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