The dust has settled and Blitz is making final preparations for his long hibernation. While you lesser beings without fur are trudging through months of cold, snow and ice, this bear will cozily be sleeping away and looking forward to the 2021 football season, one we hope is without masks, cancellations and attendance restrictions.
Before Blitz takes his long rest, how about some season-ending awards? All this week, Blitz will be giving out honors in each conference in northeast Indiana, as well as one more prediction – which teams look poised to win conference titles next year as we stand right now.
Today, we tackle the ACAC.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: JAMES ARNOLD, SOUTH ADAMS
For a guy that has broken so many records over his four years with the Starfires, it was only fitting that Arnold would break one more on the big state at state – 480 yards passing, a Class 1A title game record.
Arnold finished his senior season with 3,968 passing yards and 47 touchdowns with just eight INTs. He is sixth in Indiana high school football history for passing yards in a season, just five yards shy of Rick Mirer’s 3,973 yards for Goshen in 1988.
Only Peter Morrison of Concordia Lutheran (3,991 yards in 2016) has thrown for more yards in a single season among area quarterbacks than Arnold.
Arnold had a huge amount of weapons at his disposal, which helped tremendously. But the senior can make all the plays, even showing an ability to run in the regional against Southwood.
HONORABLE MENTION: Nick Miller, South Adams
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: BLAKE HEYERLY, ADAMS CENTRAL
It may seem that Adams Central just grows two-way studs on the regular in Monroe, but it isn’t that easy.
That’s what makes Heyerly’s season stand out as the Flying Jets’ leading rusher and one of its leading tacklers.
Heyerly eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark rushing for Adams Central, a key component to Coach Michael Mosser’s potent running game.
At middle linebacker, the 6-foot-1, 205-pound Heyerly was one of the leaders of a defensive unit that limited teams to 15 points per game.
The scariest thing about Heyerly is that he just completed his junior year, giving him another season to terrorize the ACAC.
HONORABLE MENTION: Hayden Nern, Bluffton; Gage Pritchard, Heritage
BREAKOUT PLAYER: RYLAN WHITACRE, HERITAGE
It isn’t often that a sophomore breaks the single-game tackling record, but that is what Whitacre did when he amassed 16 tackles in two different games this season.
Despite Heritage only playing eight games, the outside linebacker notched 96 tackles on the season to go with six TFL and four sacks.
As Heritage rebuilds under Coach Casey Kolkman, Whitacre will be a key component of the program’s re-emergence.
HONORABLE MENTION: Alec Reiff, Bluffton; Trey Schoch, South Adams; Keegan Bluhm, Adams Central.
COACH OF THE YEAR: GRANT MOSER
Yes, Moser had the most talent in the conference, but it is not easy to coach a team with high expectations and meet them.
The Starfires fell short of that goal in 2019, but put it all together in a magical run to Lucas Oil Stadium in 2020.
While South Adams fell just short of a Class 1A state title, it fulfilled the goal of making it to Indianapolis. Credit for that goes to Moser.
GAME OF THE YEAR: SOUTH ADAMS 29, ADAMS CENTRAL 9 – Sept. 25
A 20-point game as the best in the ACAC all year? Well, there was a significant gap between the top and the bottom of the conference.
Two of the top teams collided in Week 6 in Berne, and the Flying Jets took the early lead, bringing back memories of last year’s regional contest in which the Starfires were never able to get the offense going.
After some early worries, South Adams was able to get on track and run away.
This was how top heavy the league was. It was South Adams, AC and perhaps Bluffton (the Tigers and Flying Jets did not play), a large gap and then everyone else.
BLITZ’S TOO EARLY PICK FOR 2021 ACAC CHAMPION: ADAMS CENTRAL
Graduation will hit South Adams very hard, and while the Starfires have some studs coming back, there will be an appreciable step back in 2021.
That will open the door for Adams Central, which brings back a wealth of talent that includes Heyerly, Alex Currie and Nick Neuenschwander.
After a one-year stint away from the top of the standings, Adams Central will win its third ACAC championship in five years next fall.
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