Every week, your buddy Blitz puts a wrap on Friday Night Lights with all you need to know from the area’s games. We take a look at some of the top plays, stats, fun facts and more conference by conference, with a bit of flair as only Blitz can provide.
Week 3 delivered in droves as one of the most exciting and unpredictable nights of the year thus far. Let’s take a closer look.
• You really didn’t think Snider would struggle all year, did you?
After losing back-to-back games by 30-plus points for the first time in program history, the Panthers rebounded to shut out Concordia Lutheran last Friday.
How did it happen? Well in terms of personnel, it was a mix of young and old.
For the first time in 2020, defensive lineman Ison Robinson was able to suit up for the Panthers. The transfer from Illinois gives Snider a big, strong body up front that can command the line of scrimmage. He is also capable of getting into the backfield with regularity.
Offensively, taking a look at Snider’s leaders in different categories tells a tale. Sophomore Luke Haupert accumulated over 150 yards and a touchdown at quarterback. Sophomore Langston Leavell was the leading rusher at 86 yards and a score. Junior Tyrese Brown also scored a rushing touchdown. Sophomore Kamari Juarez was the leading receiver, with junior A’Doreon Rogers hauling in a pair of receptions.
We hope you enjoyed the two weeks in which you could dog on Snider, because that chance is now over.
• Concordia Lutheran once again struggled with starting quarterback Brandon Davis and starting center Jackson McKinney sidelined. In fact, last Friday’s 27-0 loss to Snider was the second-straight shutout of the Cadets, the first time that has happened since 1997.
Sophomore Eli Mattox stepped in for Davis at QB, but with an inexperienced center as well, it made life difficult for Mattox.
With Davis returning, expect to see the Concordia offense bounce back against Bishop Luers in Week 4.
• Did Wayne’s offensive attack against Northrop look familiar?
Coach Sherwood Haydock put the classic Harding power run game to good effect against the Bruins, with the Generals finishing with 432 yards and an average rush of 8.3.
It was a lesson in physicality up front, with Haydock’s offensive front getting a consistent push and opening up holes play after play. It has a demoralizing effect on a defense, something we saw time and time again when Haydock was leading some of those great Harding teams in the early and mid 2000s.
Chris Thomas finished Friday with 302 yards rushing on 30 carries. Both of those numbers eclipsed his career numbers with Wayne prior to that, as the senior entered Week 3 with 26 career carries for 146 yards.
• Many were surprised to see East Noble junior Rowan Zolman in a walking boot on Friday. The two-way stud is expected to miss at least one more game, with Coach Luke Amstutz hoping to get the star back at some point, although he wants to make sure Zolman is 100 percent.
“He is supposed to get an X-ray and then we will look at if he can come back for Leo or Norwell,” said Amstutz.
Through the first two weeks, Zolman accounted for three touchdowns receiving and 18 tackles and three INTs from his safety spot.
Junior Nick Munson stepped up offensively in Zolman’s absence, hauling in seven catches for 77 yards and a score against Huntington North.
On defense, Amstutz is looking to senior captain Nathaniel Summers and junior Damien Williams to pick up the slack with Zolman out.
• Columbia City junior Greg Bolt threw for 318 yards and a school record five touchdowns in Friday’s rout of Bellmont, both of which are career highs.
Bolt added a pair of rushing touchdowns and now has a total of 13 touchdowns against a single INT in 2020.
The Eagles are now 3-0 for the second-straight season, but must contend with an improved Huntington North squad in Week 4. We will see if Bolt can continue his hot start behind center.
• We have a greater read on the NE8 thanks to some non-traditional games outside of the conference. While the Coronavirus pandemic has led to some issues with scheduling, it has also presented the opportunity to play games that otherwise wouldn’t have been held.
Case in point, New Haven’s visit to Pioneer last Friday, a hard-fought 32-28 Bulldogs victory over the No. 1 team in Class 2A.
New Haven trailed by 10 entering the fourth quarter, but rushing touchdowns by Jakar Williams and Jarrell Jackson pushed the Bulldogs to the victory. Williams finished with over 200 yards of total offense and four touchdowns. Lane Woodson III continues to show he is one of the top receivers in the conference, bringing in four receptions for 84 yards and a score.
This game, as well as Leo vs. Mooresville and this week’s East Noble vs. Penn game are great not only for NE8 squads to test themselves, but also showcase the conference to fans in other areas of the state.
Too bad the SAC is still stuck in its nine conference game schedule.
• How about some love for punters?
Leo kicker/punter Carson Mccauley had a pair of punts downed inside the 5-yard line against Norwell, pivotal plays in a contest that was largely decided by field position.
Mccauley is one of the top punters in the nation in the Class of 2021. Performances like Friday are not noticed by most, but definitely deserve recognition. Blitz has seen so many games over the years (including this season) won or lost based on special teams play. The Lions are in good hands in that regard with Mccauley, who also added a 35-yard field goal in the win.
• It was a good weekend for Heritage defensive lineman Kiel Eldridge. Not only did the junior help the Patriots to their first win of the Casey Kolkman era with a 26-19 victory over Woodlan with seven tackles, one TFL and a sack, but he received a scholarship offer from Arizona State on Saturday.
Eldridge, who projects as a weak-side defensive end at the college level, now has offers from the Sun Devils, Purdue, Toledo and Cincinnati.
• With Hayden Nern sidelined last Friday, junior Lukas Hunt stepped up to lead the Bluffton offense at quarterback against South Adams.
It was a rough night for Hunt and the Tigers, with the Starfires’ defense teeing off on the junior making his first varsity start at QB.
Hunt finished 13-of-29 for 146 yards and a TD, but also tossed four INTs. But Hunt got plenty of praise from his coach. He was sacked five times and was knocked down on nearly every play.
“I would go to war with that kid any Friday,” said Bluffton coach Brent Kunkel about Hunt. “He got the crap kicked out of him and kept getting up.”
With Nern considered “doubtful” for Week 4, Hunt will have a chance to rebound with Woodlan coming to town on Friday.
• Churubusco is extremely young on both sides of the ball, but is now 2-1 while beating Lakeland and Garrett by a combined 87-15.
No player has shown improvement more than sophomore QB Riley Buroff. After struggling against Columbia City in Week 1, Buroff has completed 14-of-17 passing for 265 yards and four TDs over the last two weeks.
Churubusco is going to have its rough weeks as it grows, but overlook Coach Paul Sade’s team at your own risk.
• Laban Davis surpassed 300 total yards and four touchdowns for Eastside in a 34-0 blanking of West Noble. The junior QB has now gone over 160 total yards in each of the first three games this season as the Blazers continue to look like the most complete team in the NECC.
• Warsaw started off the Northern Lakes Conference schedule in style with a road win at Plymouth, the first time the Tigers have achieved that since 2012.
“Bart Ball” was the difference as Warsaw ate up clock (31 mins to 18 mins in time of possession) and moved the chains on the ground (304 yards rushing).
Senior Colton Wampler rushed for 126 yards to lead the Tigers.
Mishawaka is up next for Coach Bart Curtis’ team, with the Cavemen a dangerous 0-2 squad.
North Side’s 48 points last Friday against Carroll are the most points the program has ever scored in a loss…Bishop Dwenger senior QB Brenden Lytle is averaging 18.5 yards per completion, with five TDs against zero INTs…East Noble and Huntington North combined to go 5-for-7 (.714), a better conversion percentage than the two teams had on third down (12-of-26, .461)…Columbia City has allowed 14 total points through three games, the best three-game stretch for the program since 1992…Leo has attempted 17 passes total through the first three weeks…Through the first three weeks of the season, Carroll’s Mason Englert has 18 receptions for 537 yards and eight TDs. He also has a punt return for a score…Fairfield is 2-0 for the first time since 2012.
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