With five weeks of football in the books, it is a good time for Blitz to look at the first half of the 2020 campaign.
What has stood out? What has been downright shocking?
Let’s break down the five surprises of the 2020 season thus far.
How can we not start here?
Just once since 1991 have the Panthers finished a season with three or more losses – a 9-5 mark in 2011. To avoid a second in that time, Snider is going to have to win out.
It is not that the Panthers are losing, but rather the manner in which they are losing. Snider lost back-to-back games by 30 points or more for the first time in history in Week 1 & 2. While Coach Kurt Tippmann’s team has since won two of three, a lot of confusion still reigns on the field, particularly defensively.
We all expect this year to be a blip on the radar of the Snider juggernaut, but to even see these kinds of struggles all is still quite the shocker.
2. NO ‘RONA
A lot of folks thought by Week 5, this entire Friday night football enterprise would come crashing down due to positive coronavirus cases and subsequent quarantines.
However, while we have seen isolated players and teams here and there forced to quarantine, there has not been a rampant spread of the virus leading to the cancellation of the prep football season.
That has been a blessing to Blitz especially. What else is he gonna do in the fall?
Everyone knows about the ACAC showdown in Week 6 that will likely decide that conference, but the Fairfield-Angola matchup on Friday will decide the NECC Big School Division.
And how about the Falcons? Coach Matt Thacker has the team out to its first 4-0 start since 2012 while averaging over 43 points per game.
Considering this team went 0-9 in Thacker’s first season in 2018 that included a canceled game due to a lack of healthy players, the Falcons have come a long way.
The run game has been extremely effective and the defense has not allowed more than 13 points in a game.
When we are looking at positive surprises for a team, no one fits that bill more through five weeks than Fairfield.
4. LACK OF NE8 SEPARATION
Week 6 sees the Northeast 8 with four teams with one or less losses in conference play, with Leo and Columbia City atop the standings with 3-0 records.
But there are threats behind them with East Noble and Norwell each with just one loss, and New Haven, DeKalb and Huntington North all capable of beating anybody every Friday night.
The competitive balance in the league, and the competition the teams have played out of conference, has made it fun to watch the NE8 each and every week. That hasn’t always been the case.
While the SAC gets bland with no non-conference matchups in the regular season, the NE8 (with help from quarantine protocols) has given us matchups with the likes of Pioneer, Penn and Mooresville in 2020.
5. RISE OF THE DEFENSES
The offense always gets the pub, right? In preseason, we hype the quarterbacks, running backs and wideouts that are going to put up some big numbers on Fridays.
Now, we have definitely been blessed with those kinds of performances, but how about some love for the defenses?
Entering Week 6, northeast Indiana has seven of the top 28 teams in the state in defensive scoring average. Eastside is tops in the area allowing just 4.2 points per game, good for third overall.
Other teams that have stood out defensively include Norwell, Fairfield, Concordia, Bishop Dwenger Homestead and Leo.
The plethora of impressive defensive units littered throughout the area has opened Blitz’s eyes through the first five weeks. Come Thanksgiving weekend, we may be pointing to defensive play instead of offensive firepower as the catalyst in a local team or two advancing to state finals.
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