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. 20-16.
No. 20: DL/RB Kainon Carico, senior, East Noble
One of the most overlooked players in the Northeast 8 last year was Carico. While not a consistent presence on highlight reels, his 93-tackle, 12-TFL effort as a junior for the Knights was as steady as anyone up front in the league.
Entering 2021, Coach Luke Amstutz is excited about Carico, who at 6-3, 220 pounds gives the look of a towering player that has a fierce competitive streak backed by plenty of muscle.
Carico also rushed for nearly 200 yards a season ago and may be in line for more touches as the Knights look to some veterans to carry the load early while a sophomore quarterback settles in.
COACH’S QUOTE ON KAINON CARICO
“Kainon will be this year’s player that not a lot of people know about, and has a standout season. We already know he is one of the best defensive players in the conference and this year he will be a huge factor offensively. Kainon’s offseason in the weight room and developing speed will make him one of the top players around.” – East Noble coach Luke Amstutz
No. 19: QB Luke Haupert, junior, Snider
If you go by his stats from his sophomore season, you would scoff at this ranking. Yet Haupert’s growth and maturity since last fall has been exceptional.
With the Panthers expected to be a factor in the SAC after a one-year hiatus, Haupert is part of the 2020 youth movement that are now veterans of Friday Night Lights. While he completed just 54 percent of passes with seven INTs and two touchdowns last year, it gave the junior valuable big-game experience.
By the end of the season, we may be talking about Haupert being the most accurate and precise QB in the league. He can sling it and make all the passes and gained a lot of confidence in his summer work on the 7v7 and camp circuits.
With the skill positions loaded with veterans and talent, Haupert does not have to be eye-popping all the time. He just needs to get the ball to his teammates in positions to succeed. The confidence is high he will be able to do all that and more.
COACH’S QUOTE ON LUKE HAUPERT
“Luke is the consummate sponge as it relates to learning and improving. He works extremely hard at the QB craft and learning our offense. He will do a great job leading the offense and distributing the ball.” – Snider coach Kurt Tippmann
No. 18: WR Jameson Coverstone, senior, Carroll
Diminutive in stature but dangerous between the lines, Coverstone returns this season as one of a handful of players that can be considered as the SAC’s best.
With soft hands and quick speed, Coverstone is a danger to haul in a short throw and go the distance. He averaged nearly 17 yards per reception a season ago and finished with nine receiving touchdowns.
Coverstone will benefit from another year of rapport built with quarterback Jeff Becker and will surely receive plenty of attention from defenders.
While not a long, rangy receiver, Coverstone wins battles against foes on jump balls and can run away from a linebacker and mix it up with corners and safeties.
No. 17: LB/RB Blake Heyerly, senior, Adams Central
Responsible for 990 yards rushing, 15 touchdowns and 93 tackles on defense last season, Heyerly has been turning heads and crushing foes for going on three years now at the varsity level.
A fierce 6-1 and 205 pounds, Heyerly does not shy away from contact on either side of the ball. He rarely leaves the field for the Flying Jets, evidenced by the fact that laid down nine of his 27 punts a year ago inside the 20-yard line.
Now a senior, Heyerly is one of the biggest reasons that Adams Central enters the season as the ACAC favorite.
No. 16: QB Greg Bolt, senior, Columbia City
When you’re looking for the prototypical QB body amongst signalcallers in the area, Bolt takes the top spot. At 6-5 and close to 215 pounds, Bolt has no problem seeing over the line in front of him and has the footwork, arm strength and pocket presence to fit his physical presence.
While his throwing stats a season ago were nearly identical from 2019 with 1,685 yards passing and 21 touchdowns, Bolt showcasing his running ability with the Eagles by finishing with close to 800 yards and nine scores.
Entering his final prep season, Bolt is ready to put it all together and be a true dual-threat QB as Columbia City aims to make a move in the NE8. The senior is very good at looking downfield, although his reads will need to improve as he has thrown double-digit interceptions in each of the last two years.
But when Bolt is on, there are not very many better in the area behind center.
COACH’S QUOTE ON GREG BOLT
“Greg is a great football player, but more importantly than that he’s a great leader. He shows people how the game should be played, owns his mistakes, tries to turn those mistakes into learnable moments, and is always looking to shine the light on his teammates because he understands that his accolades can’t occur without the sacrifice of his teammates” – Columbia City coach Brett Fox