If you haven’t been living under a rock, you’ve heard quite a bit about East Noble football this season and not just during this postseason run. The Knights will play Saturday afternoon in the Class 4A state title game against Evansville Memorial and have gotten here through some pretty solid play.
There are names at the forefront of that. Bailey Parker, Hayden Jones, Gage Ernsberger, Leyth Al-Mohammedawi are all buzzword names for the program right now. But before the Knights step onto the field at Lucas Oil Stadium, we wanted to look at a few of the guys who don’t be as much recognition sometimes but have been huge for this program during the 2019 season.
ALEX MANNS, SENIOR, TACKLE
An All-Northeast 8 Conference tackle, Manns (pictured above) is a monster physical presence on the offensive line. Listed at 6-foot-5 and 300 pounds, Manns won’t put up a traditional statistic but has been massive in creating holes for the East Noble offense. The Knights predicate a lot of things too on their delayed handoff and Manns is an anchor of an offense that gives quarterback Bailey Parker plenty of time to make those decisions.
TREY RITCHIE, SENIOR, DEFENSIVE END
There are a wealth of quality defensive ends in the Northeast 8 Conference, but just two of them were named to the All-Conference first team. One of them was Ritchie, who was playing junior varsity football his junior season.
“Just completely dominant this year at defensive end, not because he is super flashy, he gets inside the blocks, he uses his hands,” East Noble coach Luke Amstutz says. “All the little things you want a defensive lineman to do, he does perfect.”
Ritchie ranks fifth on the team in tackles this season with 78, half of which being pegged as solo tackles. He has also picked up a co-team high four sacks.
COLE SCHUPBACH, JUNIOR, LB
Who else holds that co-team lead in sacks? Schupbach, whose name gets said quite a bit by game day stadium announcers. In addition to his four sacks, he is second on the team with 132 tackles; 80 coming in the solo variety. He is the ultimate utility guy for the Knights, despite his main focus being on defense. He has forced a fumble, while recovering three fumbles, deflected three passes and blocked a punt. Schupbach has also been used on kick returns and is the team’s primary punter, averaging 40.5 yards in his 19 punts with 10 landing inside the opposing 20 yard line.
Any successful team needs a player like Schupbach who can do just a little bit of everything and diversifies his weaponry.
DONALD MILLER AND NOAH SCHOOLEY, SENIORS, GUARDS
While Manns at tackle gets more of the attention on the offensive line, Amstutz points out that the success of their team wouldn’t be possible without Miller and Schooley. Besides rocking one of the most impressive beards of any player (or coach) in the area, Miller has been an emotional leader too, visibly being a guy that will pump up the team on important occasions. The duo has excelled in protecting Parker and Justin Marcellus from some of the better defensive fronts they have faced.
“One of the biggest offensive weapons we have had this year is we will pull out our two guards, kick out the first defender and teams have had a real tough time with that this year,” Amstutz says. “Those two guys have been awesome being physical and picking people up.”
Schooley was named All-Northeast 8 Conference second team at guard this season.