As we close out 2019 and a decade with it, Outside the Huddle decided to look back at the big names of the Summit Athletic Conference during the last 10 years on the gridiron.
With that, we are naming this our SAC Football All-Decade Team.
Instead of naming the top 10 players from this period of time, we are going to do it a little different. We are naming the best player, in our eyes anyway, from each team during 2010-2019. Most of what makes them the player of the decade for their school has to do with what they accomplished at the school, but we are going to take a little into consideration college and professional work too.
BISHOP DWENGER – JOE TIPPMANN
WHY HIM: It is only fitting that the best player of the decade for the Saints (in Blitz’s mind) is an offensive lineman.
Known for their bruising, blue-collar style of play, Bishop Dwenger produced several outstanding offensive linemen through the decade. None were as dominant as Tippmann, who at 6-foot-6 and close to 300 pounds was a road grater in the trenches.
Tippmann opened holes and pancaked opponents on the regular before graduating in 2019. In his senior season, he also had 41 tackles, three sacks and three forced fumbles on defense while also carrying the ball in Bishop Dwenger’s heavy goal line package.
Tippmann was named Indiana Mr. Football for his position by the Indianapolis Star, as well as IFCA All-State as both a junior and senior. He was the OTH 2019 Football Player of the Year, surely his most memorable award in high school.
A four-star recruit, Tippmann signed with the University of Wisconsin. He preserved a year of eligibility by appearing in just a single game this season with the Badgers.
Other contenders: Tony Springmann, Remound Wright, Luke Wiginton, Amaun Clark, Jeremy Herber, Frankie Yanko, Peter Winkeljohn, T.J. McGarry, Hayden Ellinger.
BISHOP LUERS – JAYLON SMITH
WHY HIM: Do we really need to explain this one?
Smith (pictured, photo by Chad Ryan) was named the Butkus Award winner for the best high school linebacker in the country prior to his graduation in 2012. He then won the award at Notre Dame in 2015.
Smith was as dominant of a linebacker as this area has ever seen. In his senior campaign, Smith accumulated 52 tackles and nine sacks defensively, while also rushing for over 1,300 yards. His 150-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Class 2A state title game lifted the Knights to a 40-28 victory over Evansville Mater Dei, making Bishop Luers the first program in Indiana to ever win four straight state championships. He was named 2012 Indiana Mr. Football, the only player from northeast Indiana to ever be awarded the honor.
Smith headed to Notre Dame, where he was an All-American linebacker for the Fighting Irish. In his junior year of 2015, he finished with 115 tackles, nine TFL and a sack.
Projected as a top-five pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, Smith suffered a catastrophic knee injury in the Fiesta Bowl against Ohio State, tearing his ACL and MCL. Smith was eventually drafted with the No. 34 overall pick in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys.
Smith has been a mainstay at linebacker for Dallas over the last few years. He has been considered a major snub for this year’s Pro Bowl after accumulating 133 tackles and 2.5 sacks this season.
Other contenders: Austin Mack, James Knapke, Kenny Mullen, Justin Gaston, Camari Harris, Norman Knapke, Jordan Presley.
CARROLL – DRUE TRANQUILL
WHY HIM: Tranquill has lived off the doubters for most of his career, and that includes at the high school level.
When Tranquill committed to Purdue while at Carroll, many thought that’s where his recruitment had plateaued. But a late offer from Notre Dame changed things dramatically.
Why did the offer come? Tranquill shined for a few years for the Chargers, but truly broke out in his senior year of 2013. He made 75 tackles, 18 TFL and four sacks on defense, and showed off his versatility by rushing for 1,403 yards and 28 touchdowns.
Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly personally offered a scholarship to Tranquill late in the cycle, flipping him from the Boilermakers.
Tranquill overcame adversity in the form of a lack of true position and injuries to star at linebacker for the Fighting Irish. He developed into a two-time team captain and was awarded the 2018 Wuerffel Trophy, an award given annually to the college football player “who best combines exemplary community service with athletic and academic achievement.”
Tranquill was drafted in the fourth round of the 2019 NFL Draft by the Los Angeles Chargers. He started three games and finished with 75 tackles in his rookie campaign.
Others considered: Aidan Smith, Justin Tranquill, Dylan Conner, James Jimicich, Blake Schumacher.
CONCORDIA LUTHERAN – PETER MORRISON
WHY HIM: In one of the more improbable seasons of the decade, the 2016 Concordia Lutheran Cadets won their first-ever state championship in football in dominant fashion, beating postseason opponents by an average of 32 points, including a 56-14 pasting of Lawrenceburg in the title game.
The offensive architect of that squad was Morrison, who threw for 3,991 yards and 52 touchdowns against just four interceptions. This just one year after throwing just two passes all year as a junior.
Morrison broke innumerable records in his senior year with the Cadets, including most passing yards in a season, most touchdowns in a season and most in a career.
Morrison headed to Concordia University in Michigan upon graduation. As the primary quarterback this past season, Morrison threw for 1,822 yards and 17 touchdowns against four interceptions as the Cardinals went 8-3, including a 42-35 victory over Saint Francis.
Other contenders: Trey Freeman, Peterson Kerlegrand, Mark Mallers, Amir Drew.
HOMESTEAD – ZACH TERRELL
WHY HIM: Terrell began his playing career for the Spartans in the previous decade, but finished it in 2011 as the all-time leading passer in Homestead football history. His 6,940 yards through the air have stood up since his graduation.
His 2011 was particularly special, as he completed 72 percent of his passes while throwing 38 touchdowns. Showcasing his dual-threat prowess, Terrell also holds the Homestead record for career rushing touchdowns with 34.
Terrell went to Western Michigan where he continued to break records. He holds the all-time Western Michigan record for passing yards in a career. In his senior season in 2016, he led the Broncos to a 13-0 regular season, a MAC championship and a trip to the Cotton Bowl.
Other contenders: Ben Skowronek, Jiya Wright, Isaac Griffith, Matt Anderson, Tico Brown, Jake Archbold, Cam Rogers, Braeden Hardwick.
NORTHROP – KEISHON EDWARDS
WHY HIM: The Bruins have not had much in the way of elite, Division I talent over the decade, but Edwards was one of the best running backs in northern Indiana in 2017.
After seeing some playing time as a sophomore and missing his junior season, Edwards burst back onto the scene as a senior, accumulating 1,211 yards and 12 touchdowns. He surpassed the 100-yard rushing mark against the likes of Homestead and Snider, but his biggest game is a performance that has been largely forgotten – a 26-carry, 352-yard, three-touchdown effort against Bishop Luers on Sept. 22, 2017, a game that the Bruins lost 56-19.
Edwards went to Trine where he played one season with the Thunder.
Other contenders: Colin Brockhouse.
NORTH SIDE – C.J. JACKSON
WHY HIM: The Redskins/Legends have had several dynamic players through the decade, including a few at the quarterback spot.
Yet none were as much of a mismatch as Jackson. In his senior campaign for North Side in 2012, he threw for 1,684 yards and 21 touchdowns to go along with 910 yards rushing and 11 scores.
Jackson was a First Team All-SAC selection in 2012.
Other contenders: Anthony Linnear, Michael Lovett, Russell Collins, W.R. Sanders, Alex Holliday-Robinson, Logan Capps.
SNIDER – JESSIE BATES III
WHY HIM: We truly did not appreciate the athleticism and overall football skill of Bates until he was gone.
A dominant, lock-down defensive back for the Panthers, Bates was an All-SAC First Team member as a senior in 2014. From his safety spot, he amassed 58 tackles and eight interceptions.
Bates then moved on to Wake Forest where he had a standout career for the Demon Deacons. He was drafted in the second round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Cincinnati Bengals. He has started all 32 games of his pro career over two seasons.
Other contenders: Simon Dellinger, Wes Painter, Isaac Stiebeling, Donavin O’Day, David Turner, Mac Hippenhammer, Lawrence Johnson, Christian Covington.
SOUTH SIDE – DONOVAN CLARK
WHY HIM: Clark was one of the most dynamic players of the decade. In his two years at the varsity level for South Side, the two-way standout 1,783 yards and 18 touchdowns.
But it was as a cornerback where Clark made the biggest impact on games. While it did not show up much in the box scores, opposing teams were terrified in throwing to Clark’s side of the field. He picked off five passes over two years, but was more effective than his stat line shows.
Clark was a two-time All-SAC selection, graduating in 2014. He dabbled in both football and baseball at the collegiate level and is continuing a pursue a pro baseball career.
Other contenders: Nathan Braster, Torrese Bobo.
WAYNE – KEION POWERS
WHY HIM: Many around the city were surprised when Wayne won its first SAC title in 23 years back in 2014, but when you look at the talent assembled on that team, it isn’t that hard to understand.
Leading the way was quarterback Keion Powers, who amassed over 3,000 total yards and 44 touchdowns for the Generals in 2014. A tremendous athlete, Powers showed promise in 2013 as a wide receiver, but the diminutive Powers broke out when behind center a year later.
Other contenders: Auston Robertson, Deion Powers, Keshaun Fields, Darius Alexander, Craig Young.
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