We are now two-thirds of the way through the regular season, with some championships to decide over the next three weeks.
But before we look ahead, let’s step back and take a glance at all that went down in Week 6.
• Can we talk about Mason Englert for a second?
The Carroll senior broke onto the scene late last year with a huge game against Snider in the playoffs, hauling in eight receptions for 143 yards and a TD. He was a steady presence all year in 2019, but was usurped on the highlight reel by Layton Mitchell.
This year, Englert is a regular when it comes to making big-time plays. Through six weeks, the wideout has 41 catches for 977 yards and 14 touchdowns. He is averaging close to 25 yards PER RECEPTION.
And when you look at many of Englert’s catches, they aren’t easy. He hauled in at least three jump balls against Bishop Dwenger in Week 5 that could have easily been interceptions. His greatest assets are his ability to be physical with smaller DBs and has sure hands that do not fail him when he gets his mitts on the ball.
A great quarterback is nothing without great receivers, and Englert is that to QB Jeff Becker.
• For those that fall into the camp of “Bishop Dwenger’s offense lacks imagination,” look no further than the last two weeks as evidence to the contrary.
In Week 5, it was Brenden Lytle setting a program record for passing yards in a game (328 yards). On Friday against Concordia, it was K.J. Tippmann getting time out of the Wildcat, taking a snap and rumbling over 60 yards downfield.
The Saints have the personnel to open things up and be creative offensively, which is a scary thought considering they are so good at their bread and butter – running the ball down the throat of a defense.
• There is no more dangerous return man in the area than Concordia Lutheran’s Kam Johnson, who returned a kick 92 yards for a touchdown on Friday, his second kickoff return for a TD this year.
Johnson has a the perfect mix of instinct and speed – being able to identify a hole in the coverage, follow his blockers and then accelerate.
The senior is averaging 33.6 yards per kickoff return and 41.5 yards per punt return.
Johnson could be a difference-making weapon come the postseason.
• Lost in the conversation of top quarterbacks in the area is Norwell senior Eli Riley, who in Blitz’s opinion was the difference in the 21-17 victory over East Noble on Friday.
Riley has grown over the last few years into a true weapon behind center. His accuracy may be the best in all of the NE8, and his calm and cool demeanor gives his teammates confidence around him.
Down 17-0 after the first quarter at East Noble, Riley threw a pair of touchdown passes before half, then snuck in for a 1-yard TD early in the fourth that turned into the game-winning points.
Riley finished the game 11-of-15 passing for 217 yards and also rushed for 55 yards.
Norwell is 5-1 for the first time since 2009.
• Despite the 5-1 record, there is concern that when Leo runs up against a team that is able to bottle up Kaeden Miller and the run game, the Lions will be in trouble.
That’s what makes Friday’s performance by Jackson Barbour so encouraging. The junior threw for 162 yards and four touchdowns in Leo’s 48-13 rout of Bellmont on just 4-of-5 throwing.
Now, consider the competition (an 0-4 Braves team), but Barbour’s impressive night will not only boost his confidence but also give Coach Jared Sauder the trust in his quarterback to do some work vertically when needed.
– Bluffton coach Brent Kunkel used the word “stud” to describe quarterback Hayden Nern in Friday’s 33-30 come-from-behind victory at Greensburg.
Trailing by three with a minute left in regulation, the Tigers went with an empty backfield on 4th-and-10 from the Greensburg 27 yard line. Nern hit Cody Mittlestedt for the game-winning touchdown.
Nern finished with 280 yards passing and also led the team in rushing with 74 yards. A veteran quarterback gives Bluffton the edge late in games, as Nern has experienced big-time situations in bunches over the last two years.
• South Adams suffered a big loss last week when starting center Sam Plattner was injured. He will miss the rest of the season due to the injury.
When we talk about the Starfires’ ability to make a potential run to the state finals, we like to focus so much on the stacked skill positions. But the difference could be up front, and losing Plattner and another lineman for the year could prove crucial, especially with Plattner’s rapport with quarterback James Arnold. Plattner was replaced at the center position this week by Brayden Gilbert in the 29-9 win over Adams Central.
Also important to the Starfires: Class 1A #1 Indy Lutheran dropped a 26-25 game to Northview on Friday. This could mean that South Adams will ascend to be the top 1A team in the state this week.
• Woodlan got its first win under first-year coach Mike Smith, holding on against Jay County in a two-point victory.
The Warriors have a young roster that in many ways is still learning to play as a unit under a new head coach.
The win also gave sophomore quarterback Jacob Snyder some confidence after going 23-of-33 for 230 yards and three TDs.
Better days are ahead for Woodlan football.
• OK, yes the foe was Prairie Heights, but the offensive statistics for Eastside on Friday were astounding.
The Blazers (6-0) averaged 10.7 yards PER PLAY in the 69-0 victory, had a 26-2 edge in first downs and averaged 27.8 yards per completed pass.
The 69 points are the most ever scored by Eastside in a game for a program dating back to 1965.
• Blitz was absolutely ecstatic to see Garrett get a 21-0 victory on Friday after what it went through during the week with the tragic passing of assistant principal and football coach Jake Clifford.
Clifford had one of those personalities that was always vibrant and engaging. If you were having a bad day, a conversation with Clifford would lift your spirits. One of the best people in the Garrett community, Blitz will not be the only one to miss Mr. Clifford.
Through six games, Northrop’s Damarius Cowen is still averaging over 6.3 yards per carry and has already surpassed the 1,000-yard mark for the year…North Side is second in the SAC in points scored (40.0 ppg) and last in the SAC in points allowed (41.2 ppg)…Columbia City is 6-0 for the first time sincd 1969, but its final three opponents (Leo, East Noble, Norwell) have a combined record of 13-5…Huntington North ran 90(!) offensive plays against DeKalb’s 32 plays in Friday’s game…East Noble‘s Cristian Sanchez broke a school record with a 46 yard field goal in Friday’s loss to Norwell…Warsaw is 5-1 through six weeks for the third straight season under Coach Bart Curtis.
Don’t forget to vote in the weekly FAN CHOICE PLAYER OF THE WEEK POLL†, sponsored by Craigville Appliance. This week’s vote is open through Noon on Tuesday, September 29 for you to view some of the top individual performances of the week and let your voice be heard on which one you think is the best.
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