Outside the Huddle and Blitz are counting down who they feel are the top 50 individual players in northeast Indiana heading into the 2021 season.
Today, we continue unveiling the best players in the area with positions No. 45-41.
No. 45: DE/RB Mason Sheron, senior, Leo
Some may remember that we saw little of Sheron last year as he missed the 2020 campaign due to injury. But at full strength, Sheron is one of the most disruptive two-way players around.
As a sophomore, Sheron was named IFCA Junior All-State at defensive end, proof that he punches well above his age. His motor is relentless to come around the side of the offensive front e and he is exceptional at setting the edge to prevent runners from kicking the ball to the outside.
The Lions held eight opponents to one score or less last season without Sheron on the field. Add him to the returning personnel and the Leo defensive unit will be extremely difficult to consistently score against.
Sheron will also see playing time at halfback and can be a threat out of the backfield.
COACH’S QUOTE ON MASON SHERON
“Mason is one of the strongest and most physical players in the area and can use his speed and athleticism off the edge defensively. He will also be a major part of our offense this year as one of our halfbacks. We are very excited to see Mason back on the field for his senior season.” – Leo coach Jared Sauder
No. 44: DE/TE Braxton Pruitt, senior, West Noble
Pruitt’s desire to enact punishment every time he throws his weight around at a ball carrier is unmatched in the area. He loves being the aggressor and laying out an opponent.
The senior is one of the few area players returning that posted double-digit tackles for loss (20) and sacks (13) a year ago, all for a team that went just 2-9 in 2020.
Pruitt returns with hunger to not only have a better season as a team, but also eclipse his stats from a season ago. His versatility, an ability to drop in coverage included, makes him an exceptional weapon for the Chargers.
COACH’S QUOTE ON BRAXTON PRUITT
“Braxton has a motor that runs at 120% all of the time. It doesn’t matter if it is in a drill or a game, you know he will give his all. He is a great kid.” – West Noble coach Monte Mawhorter
No. 43: DB/WR Luke Graft, junior, Norwell
It isn’t often that a sophomore makes first team all-conference, but Graft did just that at cornerback last season for the Knights.
Thing is, he did just as much damage offensively as a wide receiver.
Expect more of the same in 2021 from Graft, who will see an even greater role for Norwell this year. With Eli Riley graduated, Graft not only becomes a leader on the defense, but could also see an expanded role on offense at multiple positions.
Graft is one of the biggest reasons why OTH believes Norwell doesn’t drop much after a 10-win campaign in 2020.
COACH’S QUOTE ON LUKE GRAFT
“Luke is a kid that’s going to become a household name in northeast Indiana. Luke is going to have an expanded role for us this year. He’s explosive and physical. We expect big things from him in 2021.” – Norwell coach Josh Gerber
No. 42: LB/DE/RB Aden Dennis, senior, Bishop Luers
There may not be an area kid who has more fun playing the game than Dennis.
A personable and energetic personality, Dennis can turn it up on the football field.
At Huntington North, Dennis was relegated to inside runs and playing up front on defense. Now at Bishop Luers, he will be used more as a roaming linebacker and defensive end that can track down runners before big plays come to pass.
Dennis is sneaky fast and catches opponents off guard with his back-side pursuit and his ability to quickly get east to west.
On offense, Dennis can be utilized in a variety of ways – from a traditional runner out of the backfield to being an option in the run or pass game from the slot.
Get used to seeing Dennis making the highlight reel for Bishop Luers.
COACH’S QUOTE ON ADEN DENNIS
“Aden is a hard-working young man who has quickly become a great teammate. He’s a versatile athlete with great quickness, agility, speed, strength and has an extremely high motor. We look forward to seeing what he can do for us at multiple positions.” – Bishop Luers coach Kyle Lindsay
No. 41: OL/DL Hunter Bianski, senior, Churubusco
Bianski is one of those kids that has seemingly been around forever, but that’s because he was getting accolades as an underclassmen since he entered high school.
A two-time all-state selection, Bianski is as physical and competitive as they come. The kid takes every snap as if it is his biggest test and does whatever it takes to win that particular play. Twenty or so seconds later, he does it again, just as fierce as the time before.
In 2020, Bianski made 82 tackles to go with 21.5 TFL and 3.5 sacks. At 5-11, 245 pounds, he is a sturdy pillar in the trenches for the Eagles.
COACH’S QUOTE ON HUNTER BIANSKI
“Hunter Bianski is a 2x all-state selection for a reason. He lives in the weight room and is obsessed with getting better. Wherever he is on the field, people have to pay attention.” – Churubusco coach Paul Sade