MULLEN MOMO: A mid-season review of where we stand in each area conference

Carroll’s AJ Lazoff works to get away from a Northrop defender during the September 10 game. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

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.

We have all heard the phrase “time flies when you’re having fun.”

That’s right where I am heading into the halfway mark of this season.

Friday nights have been more than enjoyable when watching great performances, but things just seem to be moving too fast. Every week we are spoiled with passionate team efforts going toe to toe with each other.

Now in Week 5, we have seen every area team start their conference play in some capacity. With league games in full-swing, I’d like to take the time to provide a recap of the top teams in each conference.

It is still very early for the majority of conferences who are only sitting at one or two games into league action. But in the SAC, every game is a conference game. Being three and four games into the season, the SAC finally has a clear No. 1 team at the top. For the other conferences, the race to be named the best has only just begun.

In the NECC Small School Division, both Central Noble and Eastside have overall records of 4-0 and sit 1-0 in the division.

The Cougars have been able to run the ball at will and have held opponents to under 17 points in each game so far.

Eastside is coming off a seven-point victory over Churubusco that opened up conference play for both squads. The backfield of Laban Davis and Dax Holman is virtually unstoppable and the defense flies around to get to the ball.

Central Noble and Eastside will meet up in Week 8 in Butler in a matchup that both teams could very well enter undefeated. Although ‘Busco lost its conference opener to Eastside, I saw something in the Eagles that made me believe this team is a legit contender in the small division.

The NECC Large School Division has the Garrett Railroaders currently with the best overall record at 3-1. Angola on the other hand has a record of 2-2 and opened up conference play with a 38-10 win over West Noble. Both teams are 1-0 in the Large Division and also have a Week 8 showdown looming. That game will likely come down to the more physical and focused team getting the win.

Over in the ACAC, it appears to be business as usual. Class 1A powerhouses South Adams and Adams Central have picked up where they left off last year. Adams Central’s only loss this season was a two-point defeat at the hands of none other than the high-powered Eastside Blazers. The game came down to a failed two-point conversion late in the fourth quarter by the Jets. With a blowout win over Jay County last week, the Flying Jets opened up conference play in the win column.

The Starfires are still rolling along despite some early adversity. Losing some key players has forced South Adams to play the “next man up.” Their offense is averaging right around 38 points per contest, so outscoring their opponents doesn’t seem to be much of an issue at this point.

The Adams County rivals will catch up on old times during their Week 6 matchup. If Adams Central can outlast Heritage in this week’s game, both teams will enter the duel 2-0 in conference play.

Things have gotten a bit hectic in the SAC. Bishop Dwenger suffered its first loss of the season, leaving Bishop Luers as the only undefeated team left. The Knights have started the season 4-0 for the first time in over 10 years, and are all but comfortable being the top team in the conference at the midway point.

Four teams only have one loss in league action. Carroll and Homestead both were one possession away from handing Bishop Luers its first loss of the season. Snider was less than 60 seconds away from sending Carroll home with a two-game losing streak to begin its season.

The loss that shocked most was Bishop Dwenger’s first loss of the year to Homestead. The loss itself wasn’t the shocking part, but the way Homestead was able to control the game stood out. The Spartans offense found its groove as they were able to put 37 points on the board to the Saints’ 21.

The race for the SAC is still wide open as the top five teams all have an opportunity to claim the Victory Bell. After all, a lot can change in a matter of five weeks!

Finally, we take a look at the NE8. Three teams sit at 2-0 in conference play. East Noble is 3-0 on the season, having missed a game due to COVID-19. Columbia City has an overall record of 3-1 after losing a non-conference game to Delta. Leo has the most wins out of the bunch with a perfect 4-0 record.

I simply just have to say it. Week 5 is finally amongst us! To all the high school football lovers out there, Week 5 means its time for the huge clash between Class 4A and NE8 foes Leo and East Noble. This highly-anticipated matchup always holds great value as the winner has typically gone on to win the conference in recent years. This game will likely be one for the books as both teams have the size up front and huge playmaking ability from the skill players.

The deciding factor in this game will undoubtedly be defense. Leo’s run game hasn’t been slowed down yet. The physicality of its offensive line and tight ends on blocks sets the tone. The skill players carrying out hard fakes makes the offense lethal and difficult to defend

East Noble has freakish talent all around. In three games, the offense is averaging 56 points per game. Both teams have no problem with putting points on the board, so Friday will come down to which defense can get enough stops.

In games as big as this one, the team that limits the amount of mental mistakes gains the edge. Both teams know how much the game means, so one thing that must occur is complete focus on the game plan. Any little mistake can result in huge mishaps. One certainty is that my excitement couldn’t be any higher for the Lions and the Knights going into battle Week 5!

As mentioned, Columbia City is also right at the top alongside Leo and East Noble. The Eagles are 2-0 in the conference with some breathing room…at least for now. While the next two weeks are games they are expected to win, they end their season with East Noble, Leo, and Norwell in weeks 7-9. That isn’t a three-game stretch any team would want to end their regular season, especially one with hopes of winning a conference championship. Columbia City’s title dream is on the backburner for now, but will soon get the opportunity in the coming weeks. 

Conference play is in full effect across northeast Indiana. Games start to get more intense as every team is fighting for the right to be called the best. The rivalries and even the hardware exchanged between programs makes the efforts to win mean more. Being able to represent your conference as the champ is a great honor to have and teams take great pride in that. 

At the middle of the season, there are only a few clear-cut favorites. Everyone has teams they believe will win out in their conference, but to be certain is impossible at this point with so many good teams. For me it’s not about who is going to win each conference, but rather the team efforts put forth and great football being played. The standings will sort themselves out!

Mullen MoMo appears every week 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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