WEEK 10: Five area players to watch tonight on the gridiron

Lane Burns, Eastside

Sectional football kicks off tonight with first round matchups. This is where it matters most. Every player and team has dreams of titles, starting with a Sectional crown. But lose and you go home.

Here are five players to watch closer in games tonight’s Week 10 matchups.


A ball hawk like Burns (pictured) sometimes gets underrated, but he is a major playmaker that prides himself on being in on every play that his speed can reach.

As Bluffton plays so strong both in the passing and rushing games, having Burns at free safety allows him the freedom to roam around and tackle the likes of Hayden Nern and Cody Mittlestedt head on. This game is one of the most intriguing matchups as a pair of 8-1 teams collide in Class 2A.

Burns sits fourth on Eastside with 52 tackles to go with three interceptions, a forced fumble and fumble recovery.


A week that will be a lot about the run game, Huntington North’s improvement this year could culminate with a playoff win for two straight seasons for the first time since 2008. Dennis has been a horse for the offense while Huntington North has put up really great offensive outputs seven of its nine games.

Wayne has faced a lot of good running backs this season, but Dennis is still as diverse as nearly any of them. Able to play power back and cut to the outside, Dennis is going to focus on getting space where he can challenge himself against a speedy Wayne defense. Some may not see a battle of teams with four combined wins as a big one, but this could be a fantastic rushing battle with Dennis looking to take over.


After last week, Norwell’s offense can’t be much of a secret anymore. Heritage knows it has to slow Max Ringger and now it knows it has to contain Eli Riley out of the pocket in this Saturday matchup.

Here is where Brege becomes more important. He is going to have to take his power back presence to the next level with likely more handoffs to spread out Riley and Ringger’s efficiency. His own strength in being diverse is a big factor in this game and throughout Norwell’s potential playoff run. Whether it is taking a handoff or faking one and spreading out as a possible receiver, Brege has as much ability as anyone else in the Knights lineup to affect the game in multiple ways.


There is little chance that Whitko has seen a speedster like Hale that can cut and slice a defense. Yearly, Bishop Luers’ tough run in the SAC sets it up for a strong shot at pushing through the playoffs.

Hale has taken over the Knights offense by being able to avoid the power back game and move his 5-foot-7, 160 pound frame smoothly around the field. Whether he is cutting north/south or east/west, he just never stops moving his legs. He has rushed for 110-plus yards in three of his last five games and is consistently moving for six yards or more per carry. The more times that Luers trusts the ball in Hale’s hands, the bigger the push to a sectional opening round win.


Marks’ game has grown tremendously during the course of his sophomore season and if he continues to run like a truck, he could rush the Eagles to a sectional win after not getting one last season.

Marks is going to have to up his game a little bit as his top rushing games have come against some of the NECC’s bottom teams, but when he breaks out, he can really make his way through the defense. He can also help out from his outside linebacker position in getting to the high-octane Triton run game that takes off for 173.3 yards per game. Busco is going to need diversity in its run stop.

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