We are now a third of the way through the regular season, so the period of overreactions based on one or two games is now gone.
So where do we stand coming out of Week 3? That is a conversation to be had in a few days. For now, let’s wrap up Week 3.
• Let’s tackle “the decision” that, to some, decided the game at Homestead.
Up four with less than five minutes left, Coach Chad Zolman decided that his Spartans would go for the kill on third down in the red zone. A Peyton Slaven pass over the middle was picked off by Evan Linker, with Bishop Luers then driving down the field and eventually scoring the winning touchdown with less than 15 seconds left.
Blitz heard rumblings immediately after the INT that it was the wrong play call, that Homestead should have settled for another run to work the clock and, if it did not score, kick a short field goal to go up by seven.
Of course, hindsight is undefeated. Zolman was going for the kill. A touchdown would have all but ended the game with the Spartans up two scores. And Slaven had been effective all night in protecting the football. Blitz had no problem with the call, it just didn’t work out.
The win did however give Bishop Luers their first 3-0 start in 10 years; in 2014 they went 14-0.
Another thing that just struck Blitz’s fancy on Friday: the two teams combined for 955 total yards and 48 first downs. Those are some big numbers.
• Since falling in heartbreaking fashion to Snider in Week 1, North Side’s troubles have only continued, falling by 26 to a shorthanded Bishop Dwenger team in Week 2 then getting shut out by Carroll in a 40-point rout last Friday.
The Legends have too much talent to be getting shut out, let alone by a team that allowed 38 and 28 points in the season’s first two games.
All of a sudden, the Week 4 contest against Wayne is of paramount importance. North needs a win in the worst way with Bishop Luers and Homestead upcoming immediately after the Generals.
It isn’t much of a surprise that the Legends are 0-3 with the challenging schedule to start the year, but the lopsided nature of the last two games is a definite concern.
• Could Bishop Dwenger be dabbling in a two-quarterback system? After exclusively holding down QB1 through the first two weeks, Evan Springer shared time behind center with Bohde Dickerson, the teammate he beat out in preseason for the starting job.
The junior Dickerson proved to be the more effective player in Friday’s rout of South Side, throwing for 106 yards and a pair of touchdowns while also showcasing the ability to scramble and gain yards with his legs, converting a pair of runs into first downs.
Teddy Steele continues to be a big bright spot for the Saints, running for 108 yards and two touchdowns against South Side.
The Saints’ biggest challenges of the SAC season are upcoming over four of the next five weeks, beginning with Homestead at Shields Field in Week 4. Was the dual-QB system against the Archers a sign of things to come? A changing of the guard from Springer to Dickerson? Is Blitz looking too much into it? All are possible.
• Do not underestimate the importance of a Week 3 win for a team towards the bottom of the league standings.
Northrop battled plenty of adversity after the loss to South Side in Week 2, and Blitz has seen countless times just how quick an SAC program can fall apart when a coach loses the support of the parents.
So while many will gloss over the 13-12 win over Wayne for the Bruins, keyed by the heroics of C.J. Davis on both sides of the ball (two scores, eight tackles, INT), Northrop breathed new life into its season with the victory in a must-win situation. There were other big performances too that Northrop needed, including Dezmend Shaw‘s 102 yard rushing night and an efficient 208 yard passing performance from Roosevelt Norfleet III.
• Tyrese Brown’s 19-carry, 200-yard effort on Friday is the latest big-time stat line for the senior running back.
Through three games, the senior has carried the ball 67 times for 622 yards and seven touchdowns, good for a 9.2 yards per carry average.
Any doubts that Snider is a better football team than a year ago is evidenced by the performance of Brown and the massive offensive front of the Panthers through the first third of the season. It took Brown 10 games to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark last season. As of now, he will surpass that in half the amount of games in 2021.
• With senior quarterback Greg Bolt not 100 percent, Columbia City leaned on the running game against Bellmont on Friday, and Ethan Sievers and the rushing attack delivered.
The junior Sievers set a program record with 270 yards on the ground and a pair of touchdowns. He was the leading rusher amongst a cadre of runners that set another program record with 463 yards on the ground.
Bellmont’s defense is suspect, allowing an NE8-high 145 points through three games, but striking an offensive balance will be key for the Eagles as they enter the tough part of their league schedule in the final three weeks of the regular season.
The 62 points scored by Columbia City on Friday equaled a school record set on Sept. 14, 2012 in a 62-10 win over DeKalb. Meanwhile, Bellmont’s 35 points in the loss ends a streak of 44 consecutive games in which the Braves failed to score more 30 or more points.
• Who had Leo destroying Norwell by 34 points? Blitz sure didn’t. While the winner wasn’t surprising, the margin of victory sure was.
Once again, the Lions ran it at will, scorching the Knights with 386 yards rushing and averaging a first down per carry – 10.2 yards per touch.
Ethan Crawford (six carries, 148 yards, three TDs), Mason Sheron (8-81-2) and Jackson Barbour (7-33-1) all scored on the ground, while a total of 10 different players had carries, including WR/DB Rylan Crawford even getting in on the run game for a change, all behind an offensive line that should get so much more praise than they probably do. Landen Livingston was our #1 player in the preseason for a reason.
Barbour’s stat line is particularly bizarre, as he had more rushing attempts Friday (seven) than he has season pass attempts (five).
Despite the lopsided score, Norwell did move the ball effectively to the tune of 313 total yards, but much of it came with the game out of reach.
• Imagine being 0-2 and heading into a pivotal game against a beatable opponent, then losing three of your top players merely minutes before the end of the school day on Friday.
That’s the situation New Haven found itself in when Jakar Williams, Avyonn Creech and Mylan Graham were all sent home due to contact tracing, forcing them out of the game against DeKalb.
But kudos to the Bulldogs, who pulled out a 13-10 double-OT win to effectively hit reset on their season after a sluggish start.
Sophomore Malik Farrow held down the quarterback spot and, despite completing just two passes, hit Kamari Clopton for the winning touchdown in the second OT.
Clopton was the standout, as he picked off Tegan Irk three times over the course of the game and knocked down three other pass attempts.
Coach Kyle Booher got his first win with New Haven, which can now take some positive vibes into next week, where a big challenge awaits at Leo.
• Who the hell made this schedule for Heritage?
Four of the first five weeks sees Eastside, Norwell, South Adams and Adams Central as opponents.
That deadly slate made Friday’s matchup with Woodlan very important, as it served as Heritage’s best shot for a victory through the first five weeks.
Coach Casey Kolkman’s team delivered with a 37-13 rout.
Not sure which is the more impressive stat from senior Eric Rogers – his 39 carries or his 318 yards on the ground. Add in the 46 yards of receiving and Rogers had a career night on an important evening for Heritage football where he scored five different times.
• How was Adams Central going to respond after a close loss to Eastside in Week 2 in which Coach Michael Mosser was unhappy with his team’s execution?
Well, all the Flying Jets did was destroy a top 5 team in Class 1A with a 35-0 rout of Parke Heritage on Saturday.
Mosser’s squad rushed for 332 yards while holding Parke Heritage to just 32 yards on the ground.
It was an impressive performance that reaffirmed Blitz’s belief that AC is the team to beat in the north in 1A, and perhaps the entire state.
While the Flying Jets completed just one pass, it was a 31-yard strike from Ryan Black to Braysen Yergler, a combination that continues to blossom as the season goes on. That combination has proven deadly and will continue to keep defenses honest.
• South Adams got our attention out of their win over Bluffton on Friday night and rightfully so, we think.
That doesn’t mean that Bluffton doesn’t deserve some praise because they came out firing on nearly all cylinders in the loss. It wasn’t until the second half of the fourth quarter that South Adams was able to put the game on ice, which is a far cry from how the game has gone the past two seasons, when it each time was our OTH Game of the Week heading into it.
Now, you can say this is because South Adams graduated people and had people hurt. Sure, it all plays a role. But like we said in our story out of that game, the Starfires aren’t exactly struggling for playmakers. This game though was close because, save for an inability to contain Trey Schoch, Bluffton played some really good football on Friday.
Lukas Hunt took over the game from the quarterback position, looking poised and comfortable in nearly every aspect of his game. That too is a far cry from the struggles he had filing in for an injured Hayden Nern a year ago in this game. Hunt ended the night with 183 passing yards and 154 rushing yards, often using quality misdirection and top running back Jon San Juan as a distraction as he took off and kept it himself for some long runs. Hunt finished with four touchdowns and Bluffton’s loss on Friday probably distracts, but shouldn’t take away from the big quality effort he put forth.
The Tigers actually had more offensive yardage than South Adams in the loss, with Hunt leading the charge but San Juan chipping on the ground and Alec Reiff and Chase Gibson making some nice catches, sometimes under solid Starfire coverage.
Turnovers did Bluffton in with four fumbles and an interception, but they fought valiantly and that is worth noting.
• In Central Noble’s 3-0 start, Will Hoover has been unstoppable.
The senior two-way stud is making his biggest impact on offense, where he has rushed for 653 yards and 11(!) touchdowns through three games.
Hoover’s latest effort, a 218-yard, five-touchdown performance Friday against Fairfield, is the latest statement for the senior as he makes a case for being perhaps the second-best offensive player in the NECC behind Laban Davis. The five touchdowns on Friday tied a program single game record for the Cougars and Hoover.
• Speaking of Eastside’s star, Laban Davis poured it on against West Noble to the tune of over 400 total yards and is now less than 150 yards shy of 1,000 total yards for the season.
No one through the first three weeks has been able to corral the dual-threat quarterback. Blitz is already salivating at seeing Round 3 in the postseason between Eastside and Bishop Luers.
For now though, we may have to sit back and evaluate just where Davis falls into the all-too-early Player of the Year talk after the first three weeks. Hint: it is close to the top.
• Fremont got in on the random Saturday game stuff this week, playing a rainy afternoon affair with Christel House Manual that saw the Eagles dominate in a 38-8 win. The Eagles look ahead to a game with a surprisingly down Fairfield next Friday that could be an interesting one of the two NECC schools.
Christel House Manual only dressed 15 players in the loss while Fremont relied on quarterback Buck Behrman, who opened the game’s scoring with a 22 yard strike to Zak Pica. The Eagles went for two on both that score and their next, so what does that say about their kicking game?
Behrman finished the game with 142 passing yards and three scores through the air while Collin Green led Fremont on the ground with 88 yards and a score.
With his 124 yards rushing against North Side, Carroll QB Jeff Becker is now less than 500 yards away from being the program’s all-time leading rusher…Bishop Luers has two of Class 2A’s three wins over Class 6A foes so far this season, the other being Andrean’s win over Crown Point…The comedic size difference between the Homestead offensive line and the Bishop Luers defensive front on Friday showed the difference between 6A and 2A more effectively than anything…East Noble faced just three third downs the entire game against Huntington North, and converted all three…Jay County’s 63 points in a win over Southern Wells are the most for the program since a 64-8 win over Indianapolis Marshall on Oct. 9, 2015. The Patriots scored 57 points in all of 2020, a total they nearly matched in the first half on Friday…South Adams has won 14 straight ACAC games dating back to 2018…Churubusco quarterback Riley Buroff’s first 16 varsity games – zero rushing touchdowns. Buroff’s 17th varsity game – three rushing touchdowns…Angola’s 92 points allowed over the last two weeks are the most in a two-week span for the program since it allowed 101 points combined to Eastside and NorthWood in Weeks 9 and 10 of the 2014 season…Jon Colbert‘s touchdown midway through the fourth quarter on Friday was Norwell‘s first touchdown against Leo in three years.
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