Since the inception of the big and small school divisions in the NECC in 2014, two programs have dominated when it comes to titles won.
Churubusco and Eastside have combined to win seven division championships, with shared titles included. Only Central Noble has crashed the party, sharing a title with the Blazers and Eagles in 2017.
Eastside swept the division a year ago, going 4-0 and beating its division foes by an average of 30 points per game. No victory was as impressive as the 42-14 beatdown of Churubusco on the road in Week 4.
Who is the favorite entering 2020? Blitz takes a look…
The defending champion may be bringing back the most production out of any team in the area, regardless of conference. That’s bad news for a division that had trouble competing with the Blazers a season ago.
With nine offensive starters back and studs at all three levels of the defense, the Blazers are poised to be pretty scary in 2020, not just in the NECC but also in Class 2A.
With 15 consecutive winning seasons and a formula for success in their offensive scheme, overlook the Eagles at your own risk.
But with the offensive trio of Sam Wood, Gage Kelly and Jake Fulk all gone, production will have to come from elsewhere. There is no doubt that Churubusco will reach that winning level in 2020, but does it take a few weeks to settle in?
A defense that has production back, including Hunter Bianski and Nick Nondorf, may need to carry the Eagles for a bit.
A two-win season in 2019 was disappointing in Albion, with new coach Hayden Kilgore looking to move the COugars back up the NECC power rankings.
There are some pieces on either side of the ball. Quarterback Sawyer Yoder is back for his senior year, while Will Hoover and Trey Hearld have potential.
The defense has a chance to be much improved with several experienced seniors leading the way.
The Eagles scored four wins a year ago, the most for the program since 2012. The program only graduated seven seniors and does have a solid amount of experience back.
Can Fremont take the next step?
Losing do-everything Ethan Hoover – who led the Panthers in passing yards, rushing yards and receiving yards in 2019 (true story) – is a big hit.
Prairie Heights has not won a division game since 2017.
Wade Miller, senior, Eastside: Do not judge Miller on his 5-foot-9 stature, as he is one of the better possession receivers outside of Allen County. He surpassed over 500 yards receiving and seven TDs last season and could be in for a much bigger year statistically given all that the Blazers return offensively.
Nick Nondorf, junior, Churubusco: Looking for someone to be the next two-way stud for the Eagles? Look no further than Nondorf, who will see action at both running back and safety. He saw spot carries on offense a year ago, but showcased his skills in the defensive backfield as a sophomore to the tune of 50 tackles, six TFL and three INTs.
Logan Behm, senior, Central Noble: A true trench warrior when it comes to battling against physical offensive linemen, Behm is as good at the point of attack as any lineman in the NECC. He amassed 45 tackles, 5.5 TFL and a pair of sacks in 2019. He will need a monster year for the Cougars to improve in the win column.
NECC SMALL SCHOOL DIVISION PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH
3. Central Noble
5. Prairie Heights
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