The postseason got underway over the weekend and Blitz is here to make sense of all of it.
While Classes 5A and 6A took a breather, 1A through 4A got started on their road to Lucas Oil Stadium.
How did it all play out locally? What storylines emerged?
Blitz is here to break it down in Week 10 of Bear Necessities.
• Arguably the biggest surprise of Week 10 came at DeKalb as the Barons shut out Angola 7-0, the very team that dropped 55 on Coach Seth Wilcox’s team in Week 1.
How does a team go from allowing over a half a hundred points against a foe to shutting them out?
“A lot has changed since Week 1,” Wilcox said. “The biggest thing from a game standpoint is we limited our turnovers on offense and our defense caused turnovers.”
DeKalb (2-5) fumbled seven times and threw an INT in Week 1, not just hurting the offense’s chances to score, but also giving the Hornets short fields in which to work.
While the Barons struggled a bit with turnovers on Friday – two INTs thrown by Tegan Irk and a pair of team fumbles – they were able to limit Angola quarterback Tucker Hasselman to just 2-of-6 passing and held the Hornets under 200 total yards.
“From a program prospective, we have grown into our roles,” Wilcox said. “Week 1 was really the first time running a new offense and we had a new defensive coordinator. We had to grow and adjust a lot this season.”
• While Blitz has plenty of layers of fur and fat in which to stay warm, he still was chilly enough to not notice until close to halftime that East Noble coach Luke Amstutz was not on the sideline during Friday’s win over Columbia City.
Turns out, Amstutz was up in the coaching booth of the press box for the second-straight game, using the higher angle to give him a better look at the happenings on the field.
“(Assistant coaches) Trevor Tipton, Jim Abbs, Cliff Hannon and Ryan Robertson all legit could be head coaches,” Amstutz said. “They can handle the refs and game stuff.”
Amstutz joins Eastside coach Todd Mason as area head coaches who reside up in the box. It takes a significant amount of confidence in the assistants to handle the sideline, but it gives head coaches a great advantage in seeing things they wouldn’t otherwise catch.
“It is definitely something I am going to continue to do,” said Amstutz, who joked with his team after the game how he was able to stay warm and “eat several hot dogs.”
• Leo escaped Northridge with a hard-fought 14-7 victory to advance, despite being out-gained offensively 276-128.
So how did the Lions pull it off despite such a lopsided stat line in yards?
Coach Jared Sauder’s defense stiffened when it had to. As it has all year long, the unit, paced by Dallen Wirtz’s 10 tackles, 3.5 sacks and 3.5 TFL, made life difficult for the Raiders on key downs and situations. Northridge finished just 2-of-11 on third downs and did not convert its lone fourth down try.
• Blitz circled both NE8 v. SAC games on the schedule this past week as under-the-radar contests, and they surely lived up to the billing.
Congratulations to South Side and Wayne, which picked up win No. 2 in knocking off New Haven and Huntington North, respectively.
While we give so much praise to coaches of teams at the top of the standings, how about some love for Sherwood Haydock of Wayne and Roosevelt Norfleet of South Side? Week after week of the regular season, both teams took their lumps, often finishing on the wrong end of the scoreboard.
Some squads would have given up, packed it in and played out the string. But Haydock and Norfleet kept their teams together, pushed them to get better and kept the faith.
Neither coach is going to get much love at the end of the year in terms of Coach of the Year prospects, but both deserve a ton of praise for having their teams ready to play in Week 10 after over two months of struggles on Fridays.
• It was great to see Heritage back in action on Saturday night in Ossian, but Norwell did not give the Patriots much to cheer for in a 40-0 rout.
Max Ringger was unstoppable, rushing for 250 yards and a touchdown on 21 carries.
For the game, Norwell amassed 438 yards of offense while holding Heritage to just 23 and only two first downs.
• It was not a good first year for Woodlan coach Mike Smith on the field, but here is hoping that the groundwork has been laid for improvement in 2021.
The problem in Friday’s 18-8 loss to Prairie Heights was the same as it has been all year – run defense. The Panthers averaged 5.3 yards per rush and finished with 181 yards on the ground.
For the season, Woodlan allowed over 42 points per game.
• Bluffton put quite the scare into Eastside on Friday, at least over the course of the first 12 minutes.
A Hayden Nern to Alex Reiff touchdown gave the Tigers a 7-0 lead entering the second quarter, but on the opening play of the second, a Holman Dax touchdown opened the scoring for the Blazers.
That score opened the floodgates for Eastside QB Laban Davis, who scored five touchdowns – four passing and one rushing – following that initial score in a 40-7 victory.
Davis finished with 279 total yards, himself outgaining Bluffton by 188 yards.
• Bishop Luers quarterback Carson Clark has struggled at times with turnovers, throwing 10 INTs through the first seven games this year.
But Friday’s rout of Whitko saw Clark notch his third straight game without a pick while tossing seven touchdowns over that span, including a pair against the Wildcats to go with 238 yards passing.
The Knights will need that type of play from Clark to continue heading into a showdown with undefeated Fairfield last week. A streak like he is in now has surely raised the confidence of the junior signal caller.
• While Wyatt Marks was able to get some yards for Churubusco on the ground (11 rushes, 68 yards, two TDs), fellow sophomore Riley Buroff was corralled at his QB spot in a 24-14 loss at Triton.
Buroff was held to 5-of-21 passing and only rushed for 25 yards. His dual threat ability has been a big part of Churubusco’s offense all year long.
The Eagles finished with just four wins, their lowest total since 2004, but have a bright future with a lot of young standout players.
Angola and DeKalb combined to attempt 10 fourth downs. They converted just one of those 10…Wayne senior Cadijuan Mitchell, one of the most overlooked defenders in the SAC, finished Friday’s game with 10 tackles and 3.5 TFL…Not to be outdone, junior lineman Trevor Hapner of South Side notched nine tackles, two sacks and three TFL…Garrett has finished a third straight season with a losing record. The last time that happened was 1987-89…Matt Thacker losing his first 10 games as head coach of Fairfield. Since then he is 15-5…South Adams held Union City to just two first downs and 57 total yards on Friday…Sophomore Ryan Black accounted for three TDs – two passing and one rushing – in Adams Central’s win over Fremont. His play will be key as the playoffs continue.
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