OTH FOOTBALL PREVIEW 2020: No. 7 New Haven Bulldogs

Year 3 of a coach’s regime – particularly at the college and high school level – truly can be the pivotal season.

The players have gotten used to the style and expectations of the new coach, while the coach himself has settled in and truly knows what he has both in the locker room and on the football field.

That’s where Coach Jimmy Linn and the New Haven Bulldogs find themselves entering 2020. After consecutive 5-6 seasons in Linn’s first two years, this season has the feel of a true breakout campaign, particularly when looking at what the Bulldogs bring back.

“First two years was very much a settling-in period and a learning experience,” Linn said.

While New Haven traditionally has athletes at the skill positions, but the key this year could be a big and experienced linemen corps. Four starters return up front, but the new one could be the best – Jon Louden at right tackle. Louden will also command the nose spot in New Haven’s 3-4 defense.

“When you talk about the top-tier teams in the Northeast 8, they are led by big, strong guys up front,” Linn said. “We like how we look there and hope to be able to compete.”

Linn also likes where his team stands at quarterback. Junior Jakar Williams threw for close to 2,000 yards and over 15 touchdowns last year and is expected to be better with another year of development. While he did rush for 254 yards and four touchdowns in 2019, Linn has expectations of Williams being much more active with his legs.

“All of our zone plays are a read, which will give Jakar the chance to make decisions and take off if need be,” Linn said.

The Bulldogs rushed for just 86 yards per game last season. Williams being more of a weapon in that respect will help, as well as having leading rusher Dre Wright (92 rushes, 386 yards, two TDs) back.

Three of New Haven’s top four receivers have moved on, but Linn is excited about senior Lane Woodson III on the outside. Last year, Woodson caught 15 passes for 172 yards and a score. Junior Myles Harris will also be someone to watch on the perimeter.

Defensively, New Haven will line up predominantly in a 3-4, going into a 3-3 stack as circumstances dictate. Wright will be out of the inside linebackers as well as Isaac Carswell.

“We think Dre is one of the best linebackers in the state, and Isaac is vastly underrated,” Linn said.

Jamareon Hagler will man one outside linebacker spot, while senior Mason Moore will line up at the “bandit” position on the other side.

The secondary will be all new, which could be an area of concern in a league that touts the likes of Greg Bolt, Eli Riley and Jackson Barbour at quarterback, not to mention the high-powered East Noble offense. Senior Cam Mason will be a veteran presence, with junior Quantri Sanders at the “viper” safety position a versatile and exciting talent. Much like the offense, Woodson could be the best athlete in the secondary, but will rotate with others to stay fresh.

WHY #7?

This appears to be the season in which New Haven gets back into the Northeast 8 championship conversation. There is a lot to like talent-wise on both sides of the ball, but the difference could be in the trenches, where Coach Linn feels as if he has the guys that can hold their own against East Noble and Leo.

The fact that it sounds as if Williams at QB will have much more freedom should also make opposing defenses very, very concerned.


The Bulldogs began the 2019 campaign with four straight losses before going 5-2 the rest of the way. New Haven trades South Bend Riley for Garrett in Week 1, but the schedule remains difficult early on with showdowns with Mississinewa (11 wins in 2019), DeKalb and Leo.

Linn says the second half of last season was fruitful in that they found personnel groups that work well together, something that will flow into 2020. If that happens and the Bulldogs can avoid a slow start, watch out.


Week 3 at DeKalb

The NE8 opener for both teams will be a riveting watch as DeKalb looks to prove last year wasn’t a fluke and New Haven tries to get to 1-0 in the league.

For the Bulldogs, this game will set the tone for the remainder of the season. Going to DeKalb and capturing a win will boost not only the mindset of the players within the program, but put outsiders on notice that New Haven is improved, especially after a 29-14 loss to the Barons a year ago.


Jakar Williams, junior, QB

There is no doubt that Williams could be primed for an exceptional season behind center for New Haven. QB coach Cameron Smith has been working tirelessly with Williams regarding his decision making, focusing on the little things that are the difference between a good QB and a great one.

If Williams lives up to the hype in 2020, the New Haven offense is going to help win the Bulldogs a lot of games.


No. 15 DeKalb

No. 14 Norwell

No. 13 Adams Central

No. 12 Columbia City

No. 11 Eastside

No. 10 Concordia Lutheran

No. 9 South Adams

No. 8 North Side

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