As we move into Week 4 of the high school football season, we want to take a look at who some of the top players and teams are so far. Through one-third of the regular season, who is catching Outside the Huddle’s attention in the Summit Athletic Conference?
TOP OFFENSIVE PERFORMER
JEFF BECKER, CARROLL
If Week 3 was the only week that was played, Becker would still be in the running after his nine-touchdown performance against North Side.
The junior has laid down the law in the argument over northeast Indiana’s top quarterback. He has always been a dual threat and 14 games into his varsity football career, he has thrown for over 3,000 yards. This season alone, in three games, Becker has passed for 1,006 yards on 44-of-73 passing attempts while passing for 14 touchdowns and zero interceptions.
Becker has stayed strong on the ground too, even though he is passing more than he did last year per game. Becker leads Carroll in rushing with 23 carries for 152 yards and three touchdowns.
Contenders: Duce Taylor, North Side; Mason Englert, Carroll; Braeden Hardwick, Homestead; Amir Drew, Concordia Lutheran; Damarius Cowen, Northrop
TOP DEFENSIVE PERFORMER
JOHN MICHAEL FABINI, BISHOP DWENGER
With four sacks and five quarterback hurries, no defensive player forces the plays quite like Fabini has through the first three weeks. His presence in a Week 2 win over North Side was a game changer late as the Saints defense held the Legends while Fabini constantly bullied his way to Duce Taylor on the weak side.
Fabini leads the Bishop Dwenger defense in tackles with 16 and tackles for loss at four. In a defensive scheme that lends itself to parity, Fabini has done a lot physically to set himself apart.
Contenders: Mason Daring, Bishop Luers; Luke Palmer, Homestead; Craig McGinnis Jr., Carroll; Lah-Shon Miller, North Side; Arthur Mhoon Jr., Wayne
ROCCO CIOCCA, BISHOP DWENGER
As the Saints have ventured into the air, it has been Ciocca who has been a major beneficiary. The 6-foot-4 junior has been a long and strong target.
Last season, Ciocca caught just five passes 33 yards. Through three weeks in 2020, he has caught 13 passes for 295 yards.
To put that in perspective for what Ciocca has meant to the Saints, only three guys went for more than 300 yards receiving last year over the course of the entire season.
Contenders: Ja’suan Lambert, North Side; Mason Daring, Bishop Luers; Jameson Coverstone, Carroll
BRAUNTAE JOHNSON, NORTH SIDE
Rarely do you see a freshman make such an impact, but Johnson certainly has in every single North Side game from Week 1 onward. He has caught a team-high four touchdown passes while gaining 170 yards on 13 receptions.
North Side has a lot of quality receivers that Duce Taylor can air it out to, but this freshman’s pure athleticism makes him a great short yardage option (13.1 yards/catch) that can create on his own.
Contenders: James Rusher, Concordia Lutheran; CJ Davis, Northrop; Langston Leavell, Snider; Julante Hinton, Northrop
ANY GIVEN TEAM, ANY GIVEN WEEK
Through three weeks, nine different SAC teams have wins. That is astounding given the traditional hierarchy of the conference. It was established Week 1 when North Side beat Snider and Northrop topped Homestead. The Panthers surged back in Week 3 against a good Concordia Lutheran team and Wayne’s big running day last Friday upended the 2-0 start of Northrop.
While changes could still be made to the conference-only regular season schedule, there hasn’t been much disappointment in a usually predictable SAC slate.
No disrespect for the Panthers intended. Some younger players, including Langston Leavell, and the addition of transfer Iso Robinson all played together well in a Week 3 win. But with what we expect yearly from Snider, there was a lot of disappointment about the Panthers dropping back-to-back games by 30 points for the first time in program history.
Snider rarely rebuilds, but simply reloads year after year. The first two weeks of this season makes us feel like there is a true rebuild mode at Bowser Field practices. Is that really the case? Week 3 says no but what does the future hold?
The Saints have asserted dominance to start the year, but haven’t had a challenge other than North Side. That said, Bishop Dwenger is operating as a well -oiled machine and the weeks it was able to hone its craft before taking on big challenges could be very helpful.
On the ground, the Saints have been tough, hard-running and aggressive, but they have also tested out the air quite a bit.
Right now, Bishop Dwenger is the team to beat because of the balance that it is bringing every Friday night.
Contenders: Carroll, Homestead
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