Week 3 is headed your way tonight (with some Saturday games too) and as always, each week we talk about five players that you should keep an eye on. Maybe they did well last week? Maybe they have a favorable or intriguing matchup?
Here are the players to keep an extra eye on:
DAX HOLMAN, EASTSIDE vs. West Noble
Holman had himself a week against Adams Central last Friday, establishing himself in the argument of being one of the best, if not the best, grind-it-out rushers in the the entire area. He carried the ball 22 times for 200 yards, more than half of the Blazers’ offense in a game that moved them to 2-0. Eastside may be at the top of the NECC small division while West Noble sits on the low end of the NECC big division, but the Chargers are out to make a statement against a team that has consistently been one of the conference’s best regardless of size. Holman’s contributions have been big so far, making him equal to and not just complementary to Laban Davis.
Holman also has 10 tackles and half of a sack in the still young 2021 season.
NICK MUNSON, EAST NOBLE vs. Huntington North
The Knights will be back in action after missing about a week of school, including all extracurricular activities. That makes things a bit hairy here because it also means no practice and a group of kids working to keep themselves sharp for an upcoming conference game. Munson is a guy who can do a lot to pour things on offensively. In East Noble’s lone game this season, he ran 16 times less than the team’s leading rusher and, in fact, had just the fifth most rushes in the game, but still ran for the second-most yards at 99, going for 24.8 yards per carry. He also caught a single pass for 12 yards.
If Munson can get out in the open field, he is a dangerous prospect who has the speed to humble even the best defenses.
What kind of game will we get this week? Sadly that time off will make us question some things about East Noble but we probably shouldn’t. Look for Munson to continue to shine and this be used as a real tune-up game for a tough Northeast 8 Conference schedule to come.
OWEN WANNER, SOUTH ADAMS at Bluffton
Welcome to the big time Owen Wanner.
Though one sided, the South Adams/Bluffton games have been pretty fun over the last few years. Now, a new Wanner will have to take control of things if the Starfires are to remain at the top of this friendly (mostly) rivalry.
With Aidan Wanner on the shelf for the foreseeable future due to injury, his third cousin Owen will take the snaps for South Adams. This Wanner may be just a sophomore, but with a a bevy of injuries to deal with the last three years for South Adams, even as it has have asserted some ACAC dominance, it has had some guys step into a next-man-up role really well. Can Owen Wanner be next?
Owen tallied 199 yards when the game was put in his hands last Friday against Bellmont after Aidan Wanner’s early exit, going 7-of-12 through the air for 165 yards while running for 34 in his only carry of the night. It has to give him some confidence and comfort going forward. Either way, he is one to watch on Friday night.
LUKE GRAFT, NORWELL vs. Leo
We know what we are getting from both sides of Friday’s game with NE8 implications: run, run and probably run a bit more.
That has been the cycle of success for both Leo and Norwell this season and no rusher has been as actively dominant as Graft, which says a lot. These two teams have great rushers, so for Graft to be able to command the carries the way he has says a lot. There is a much bigger defense in his way with Leo, but that doesn’t mean the junior has not established himself as a top player in this conference.
Graft pushed through with 143 yards on 12 carries last week and his legs never seem to stop churning. A lot was talked about last year on how the Knights leaned on Eli Riley and this year they are needing to have someone to rely on, someone to trust explicitly to be their leader. Graft can be that guy. He can pop in on defense to make some high-quality reads too and that makes him as important as any Norwell player on the field.
JACE PARNIN, CONCORDIA vs. Snider
Who is Concordia in the grand picture of the SAC? This week should be a good measuring stick for the Cadets against a Snider team that finds itself consistently in fights that go down to the wire.
Parnin is the type of kid that could make it ugly too, because he plays with a certain grit that only comes with a chip on your shoulder. He has been able to find the end zone three times this year and has done it in a few ways. While a tenacious defender, he has been able to haul in six catches for 133 yards, showcasing his ability to break away from defenses (one catch is for 80 yards) and also fight for yardage against defenses that know he is going to be one of the Cadets’ top targets.
His relative experience and eagled-eyed approach on both sides of the ball could keep things very interesting this week and beyond.