OTH FOOTBALL PREVIEW 2020: No. 5 Carroll Chargers

Carroll’s Hunter Mertz, Cade Dinan, Jeff Becker, Liam Ottenweller and Reeve Muncie.

Following just three wins in 2018, it was a return to form for the Carroll Chargers a year ago. Seven wins, competitive games against both Snider and Bishop Dwenger and the emergence of an impressive young quarterback made for some good vibes in the offseason.

Can it continue into 2020?

“We look at it that nothing from last year impacts anything going into 2020,” Carroll coach Doug Dinan said. “We have to approach every week as if we are starting from zero, which we are.”

While the Chargers will be starting from zero in the win-loss column, it has some big pieces returning, namely junior Jeff Becker at quarterback.

As a new starter as a sophomore, Becker threw for over 2,000 yards and 20 touchdowns while rushing for 526 yards and six scores. The expectation is that he takes a step forward both physically and mentally.

“I think one of the biggest things is he has become a bigger leader in the program,” Dinan said. “He has a fuller understanding of the offense, which was evident in the scrimmage (against Bishop Dwenger) where he made a check at the line of scrimmage – which shows a great understanding of the defense and the things we are doing.

While Carroll’s top running back (Evan Harris) and wide receiver (Layton Mitchell) have graduated, taking with them over 1,300 yards of total offense from a season ago, but there are candidates at both positions to step up.

Junior A.J. Lazoff moves from slot into the offensive backfield and enters the season as the feature back. Fellow junior Luke Carmody will also see action behind Becker. Dinan mentioned in short-yardage situations he has a few bigger backs he can deploy.

Overshadowed by Mitchell last year on the outside was Mason Englert, who caught 32 passes for 511 yards and three touchdowns. Englert is a cerebral receiver, understanding the importance of route running, the dissection of coverages and finding the open areas on the field.

Senior Boden Hite (22 receptions, 223 yards) will also see an increased role this year. Cam Hedgecock will suit up in the blue and white once again after playing at Carroll Middle School before heading to Bishop Luers. The transfer caught 24 passes for 276 yards and a pair of TDs last year.

The offensive line is sound and physical, let by the 6-foot-4, 290-pound Reeve Muncie. Junior Tyler Wiersema will man one guard spot while Max Malcolm switches to tackle from center.

Carroll lost First Team All-SAC defenders Larry Sible up front and Ray Vollmer in the secondary, but Dinan feels confident those levels of the defense won’t lose much in terms of effectiveness. Junior Liam Ottenweller (22 tackles, two TFL) has moved from inside linebacker to defensive end. The defensive tackle spot will be by committee, but Muncie will be a big part of that rotation.

Hunter Mertz moves from the outside to the inside at linebacker. The three-year starter finished last year with 55 tackles and five TFL. Senior Craig McGinnis will also be one to watch at the second level.

In the secondary, Cade Dinan returns after leading the Chargers with four interceptions from his cornerback spot. Sophomore Jorge Valdes saw spot action as a freshman and will start at the other corner spot.

Carroll coach Doug Dinan signals to his team during an August 30, 2019 game against Snider at Spuller Stadium.

WHY #5?

Anytime you bring back a quarterback who threw for over 2,000 yards as a sophomore, there is plenty to be optimistic about. Last year showed that 2018 was just a blip on the radar, and there is a lot to like on both sides of the ball for the Chargers.

As teams like Snider and Homestead work in new quarterbacks and important pieces at the skill spots, Carroll may have the advantage, especially early in the season when it plays Snider in Week 2.


While there is no doubt that Carroll is one of the perennial teams in the upper half of the SAC, the Chargers have not lost less than three league games in a season since joining their new conference. While we saw Homestead get over the hump a year ago, could this year see the Chargers do it?

A challenging first portion of the schedule will be telling. An improved Bishop Luers team kicks off the season, following by games with Snider and a North Side team that could flirt with the top half of the league.

Despite the high expectations for the Chargers, there is still a lot to prove.


Week 7 at Homestead

Carroll has lost five straight to its rival, including twice last season. To say that the Chargers are growing sick of being knocked around by the Spartans would be a bit of an understatement.

A lot will happen in the SAC prior to this game, but chances are one if not both of these teams will still be in the SAC championship conversation at this point.

A victory on the road at Homestead would be a big deal for Coach Dinan’s team.


Jeff Becker, junior, quarterback

Becker showcased sublime skills behind center as a sophomore last season. His ability to make plays downfield while being flushed from the pocket by pressure are unmatched in the area.

A year older, wiser and more physically mature, Becker will put up bigger numbers than a season ago. Just how big? That remains to be seen.

But what is clear is that Carroll’s flirtations with the top of the SAC will depend largely on the performance of its junior QB.


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

No. 7 New Haven

No. 6 Leo

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