MULLEN MOMO: Some musings after two weeks of the 2021 season

Bishop Luers’ Aden Dennis (27) and Antwian Lake celebrate Dennis’ touchdown in August 27’s game against Wayne. (Photo by John Felts)

Joining the Outside the Huddle staff in 2021 is former Bishop Luers standout Kendrick Mullen. The member of the Class of 2013 suited up for Ball State University and after college served as an assistant coach for several years with his high school alma mater. Mullen is now a football trainer and 7v7 coach at Optimum Performance Sports.

Kendrick’s weekly Monday column goes by the name “Mullen MoMo.” According to Kendrick himself, MoMo was something late Bishop Luers coach Mike Egts used to say to players to get them going. “I’m pretty sure it just means like momentum or something,” Kendrick says.

Just like that we have now completed our second week of Friday Night Lights in northeast Indiana.

The hopes and dreams of players and coaches have been renewed during heated (literally) competition the last two weeks, which saw the thrill of victory for some and the agony of defeat for others. With the opening of new stadiums, the smell of popcorn and hot dogs in the air, parents and fans back in the stadiums, bands in full effect and the student section fully rocking, I feel like someone has to say it. WELCOME BACK FOOTBALL!  

The weekly dose of teams that have prepared for every scenario, duking it out blow for blow, leaving it all out on the field and keeping fans on the edge of their seats has been welcomed back by thousands across the area. Coming off a year ago where teams started off the season in empty stadiums, the masses have enjoyed the games in person through these last two weeks.

It was only a week ago when I crossed my fingers in hopes that football would not be affected by the coronavirus throughout the course of this season. As we all know. the Delta variant has had other plans in mind. We have had players quarantined due to new cases and contact tracing. We have also seen a few games cancelled.

Schools in the Smith-Green Community Schools district, which includes Churubusco Junior-Senior High School, have turned to virtual learning for at least the next few weeks due to a rise in positive cases. But perhaps the most shocking news around the area was Northeast Eight powerhouse East Noble cancelling its Week 2 matchup against NorthWood. The call for cancellation also included all other extracurricular activities at the school until September 1.

These are the “breaking news” stories we dread to hear, but if we have learned anything from a year ago it’s that we have to be able to weather the storm through times of adversity. 

Even in the midst of decisions being made beyond our reach, the hype surrounding the large pool of talent in the area remains at an all-time high. Games are still being played and no matter what the circumstances are, teams still have to show up and compete to prove their worthiness at the top. Fan involvement is crucial to keeping teams hungry for success. There’s a certain boost in morale when you have a vibrant fanbase backing you throughout the course of a game.

This season there seems to be something different in the air. That something is coming from the South Side Archers!

Last Friday saw the continuation of a resurgence of South Side pride that we haven’t seen in years. Granted, the Archers are only 1-1, but there is a feeling that this program is heading in the right direction.

Could it be the new unis with the eye popping green?

Could it be the athletic studs taking the field on Fridays in Jaylen Lattimore, Trevor Hapner and dual-threat QB Quincy English?

I’m sure those things have something to do with it, but one thing that cannot be denied is the confidence first-year coach Guy “Tiny” Lee has in his program. One of the first items of business for Lee was to get more players out to play for their school. It didn’t look like much at times during the summer, but he has accomplished that goal and ignited a long-lost fire surrounding Archer Nation.

The “Mean Green,, as Coach Lee refers to them surely looked like a team on the upswing in last Friday’s win over Northrop. The fans were engaged from the outside and Archer Nation has come alive to make a statement!

The thriller that took place in Week 1 between North Side and Snider, will be labeled as an instant classic by many. Legends coach Ben Johnson has spent a significant amount of time trying to create an atmosphere and buzz around his team and the word around town is that he has succeeded! Bringing in food vendors, a DJ and other gameday features has sparked much excitement.

Those thrills helped fuel the back-and-forth game between the two teams to open the season that could have very well gone in favor of the Legends. This new era of football at Chambers Field is one to keep a very close eye on.

In Week 2, the Legends traveled to Shields Field to face off against Bishop Dwenger, where they experienced the “Saintuary” in all its glory. From start to finish the Bishop Dwenger fans were on their feet cheering on their beloved Saints. The energy that came from the fanbase rubbed off on the team as they eventually found a rhythm that allowed them to pull away and win big.

Since cutting ties with Concordia Lutheran at Zollner Stadium, Shields Field has been a very unique and tough game day experience for opposing teams.

Carroll opened up its new digs in Week 1 with Neon Nation very much alive and well, with tailgaters and all the bells, whistles and glow sticks one could ask for with a $20 million dollar renovation. The LED lights that flickered on and off after a score for the Chargers gave off a college football-like feel to the game that was a first-of-its-kind experience for a high school football game in the area. This also included a fireworks show that was enjoyed by both home and away fans. The close game between the Chargers and the Knights of Bishop Luers sent notice to the entire SAC that both teams are ready to compete. It is safe to say that teams are going to be overly excited to play within those confines.  

While the debut of their new digs was spoiled, the Chargers channeled the fuel of losing their home opener in Week 2 against Snider. Both teams were coming off games decided by one possession and the highly-anticipated matchup did not disappoint. The game-winning touchdown drive with less than a minute remaining led by junior backup quarterback Owen Scheele and the reliable, explosive senior wideout Jameson Coverstone proved just that. Spuller Stadium was in an absolute frenzy all game with both fanbases all in! The players gave the people their money’s worth, that’s for sure. 

There is one team and fanbase in the SAC that I feel just doesn’t seem to receive the proper recognition for the consistency and excitement they have shown since joining the conference in 2015.

That’s right, I’m referring to the reigning two-time league champion Homestead Spartans.

The Homestead fanbase is one that you can count on to relentlessly cheer on the Spartans each game. There seems to be almost a perfect balance between the great talent, coaching and dedicated fans in Aboite. It’s like we have grown used to knowing what we are going to get when facing the Spartans, so it’s not that big of a deal.

The consistency the Homestead fanbase brings every year is most certainly something that stands out to me. As a former coach, the atmosphere at Dave S. Walters Memorial Stadium was one of the toughest to call a game in. The loudness of the fans makes it hard to communicate without losing your voice! 

In Week 2, Concordia was reminded of that when they visited the Spartans. The game was out of reach early as Homestead rolled to its second-straight win to open the season. As far as I’m concerned, the team that has every right to be named the top in terms of gameday atmosphere as well as talent and depth on the field has to go to the team which has held the Victory Bell hostage the last two years, right?

Homestead has proven that intangibles factor into its success, particularly at home. 

Fans are very important and they make a high school football game all the more enjoyable. For the players, four years of prep ball is supposed to be a time they will remember for the rest of their lives. Some of the moments that will be remembered are based on what it’s like taking the field for some Friday night action. Whether it be a certain chant that your school’s student section does, cheerleaders pumping up the crowd, the school band playing your favorite tune during a timeout or something as simple as hearing your loved ones screaming your name all game, the energy that fans bring is valuable and contagious.

Those are the components of the game that everyone longed for a year ago. Let’s all just hang tight because we have a lot more football left to play. One thing for sure is that high school football is back and ready to truly take off in the weeks ahead!

Mullen MoMo appears every Monday during the prep football season. These opinions represent those of the writer. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. 

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