BLITZ: Leo pounds East Noble, knocks Knights off NE8 throne

Leo’s Jackson Barbour works to escape the defense of East Noble’s Aidyn Jones during a September 18 game.

“Demoralizing” is a word that Blitz hears often around high school football.

Anytime one squad dominates another in convincing fashion, that word is uttered.

But let Blitz tell you something, a team being demoralized is a rare event at all levels of football.

But if there is one thing that makes a team feel disheartened, it is knowing exactly what a team is going to do on the field, yet having zero ability to stop it.

Enter Leo vs. East Noble.

The Lions entered Friday’s game having proven that they could run the football out of their Wing-T offense with great effect, with Kaeden Miller leading the way.

But could Coach Jared Sauder’s team do it against a physical Knights defense.

Yes. An emphatic yes.

Leo ran 44 offensive plays in Friday’s 24-0 blanking of East Noble. Of those, just one was a pass – an incompletion thrown by Logan Barnett on a halfback pass.

The other 43 plays? Run, run, run, to the tune of 235 yards. While Miller led the way (16 rushes, 122 yards, TD), it was an entire team effort, from secondary ball carriers to the offensive front that consistently dominated East Noble at the point of attack.

Leo’s Rylan Crawford picks off a pass in the first half of September 18’s game against East Noble. Crawford had two interceptions in the game.

The Knights knew what Leo was doing, called the defenses to slow the run down…and still couldn’t stop it.

THAT is demoralizing.

“This game meant a lot to us, it was very personal going into it,” said Miller after the shutout win. “We knew what we had to do. East Noble is a really good program and we had to show up.”

Leo did more than show up – it dominated, ending East Noble’s streak of 14 consecutive wins over NE8 opponents. While the offense was putting together sustained drives, the defense held the Knights to 3.4 yards per play and forced five turnovers.

When Miller broke away on an inside run for a 72-yard touchdown late in the second quarter, the game felt out of reach for East Noble, even with an entire half of football left. That’s how dominant Leo was.

“After that touchdown, I think (East Noble) knew it was going to be a wrap,” Miller said. “We were just chunking yards play after play and our defense dominated the whole game.”

The Knights (3-2) were never able to seriously mount a sustained drive, always seeming to stall around midfield. Dalton Stinson returned at quarterback, but was harassed all night and was picked off three times, including twice by Leo’s Rylan Crawford.

Leo coach Jared Sauder watches on during his team’s September 18 victory over East Noble.

The night belonged to the Lions (4-1), who stamped themselves as the favorite in 2020 in the Northeast 8 in convincing fashion. While the biggest hurdle in the league may have been cleared, more tests await – including Huntington North, DeKalb and Columbia City.

“We are going to enjoy this one for a night then get back to work,” said Miller.

But for a night, a chilly September night, Leo can celebrate the fact that it showed East Noble that its NE8 dominance is over…for now.

After all, the Lions and Knights both reside in Sectional 19…

These opinions represent those of Blitz and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Blitz on Twitter at Blitz_OTH

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