Week 5 brought some clarity in the Northeast 8 and opened the eyes on a pair of one-loss teams in the SAC. Who is rising? Who is falling? Can anyone sniff Adams Central in the ACAC?
Let’s take a final look at Week 5.
• As expected, at the first time of any adversity whatsoever, like the program’s first-ever losing streak of the Jason Garrett era, some Bishop Dwenger “fans” seep out of the woodwork to call out the coaching staff.
Bishop Dwenger’s 42-23 loss to Carroll wasn’t pretty and included the first time ever that the Saints have been “running clocked” in history.
It’s obvious that the haters have pre-conceived hate for Coach Garrett and have merely been biding their time to voice it. After all, you sound pretty dumb calling for a coach’s head whose first three years included wins in 35 of 40 games and a state championship in 2018.
Simply put, this Saints team lacks the studs at the key positions. The defense is undersized and the offense outside of KJ Tippmann and Rocco Ciocca really lacks game-breaking players.
It’s not a knock on the roster, talent ebbs and flows, when at Dwenger.
• Jeff Becker had been downright pedestrian, for Jeff Becker standards, through his first three games of the season entering Friday, having connected on just 53 percent of his passes for eight TDs against four INTs.
So it was a breakout of sorts as Becker went 17-of-25 for 329 yards and six touchdowns and no picks in Friday’s Carroll rout of Bishop Dwenger.
With a favorable remaining schedule that includes just one true challenge (on paper) in rival Homestead, the Chargers have positioned themselves to be a player in the SAC title race. However, with the season-opening loss to Bishop Luers, Carroll is effectively two games behind the league lead.
But big picture, Carroll’s shot at postseason success is buoyed with a Becker that is firing on all cylinders. Couple him with a much-improved defense and Coach Doug Dinan’s team deserves respect.
• Sort of lost amongst the names of big-time players on Bishop Luers is senior Nick Thompson.
The junior defensive back scored his second interception of the season on Friday against North Side to go with five tackles and one tackle for loss. A day later, he was a guest of Notre Dame as the Fighting Irish hosted Purdue in South Bend.
Thompson has speed that makes him a problem in the return game, as well as allows him to stay with any receiver in this region. He is strong, long and loves to mix it up physically. The Irish aren’t the only ones interested in the junior, with Iowa St. and Minnesota, among others, also intrigued by the junior prospect.
If the Knights can advance deep into the 2A postseason, Thompson will show out even more and his recruitment will continue to blossom.
• For anyone wondering if the week off would help or hurt Snider, that was answered when the Panthers shut out Homestead in the first half and beat the Spartans 17-14 on Friday.
While Tyrese Brown had another huge night with 157 yards on the ground and a score, it was the defense that stole the show, forcing three turnovers and holding Homestead below 90 yards rushing.
Domanick Moon and Quincy Myatt each had big games for the defense, while Adoreon Rogers picked off Peyton Slaven.
Snider controls its own destiny in the SAC with a Week 9 game against Bishop Luers in Week 9 in which could end up being the SAC Championship game.
• Speaking of Snider and the SAC, with one less game played due to the Covid cancellation of the South Side contest, conceivably the Panthers could finish with a 7-1 record against other teams’ 8-1 mark.
Blitz has learned that the most likely scenario in the event that Snider is hurt by that lack of a ninth game is that the South Side game will be declared a 2-0 forfeit win for the Panthers, considering it was the Archers that bowed out due to Covid issues.
• How about Lamarion Nelson as potentially the SAC’s best running back?
The junior set a career mark with 267 yards on the ground in the 36-26 victory over South Side as Wayne got win No. 1 on the year.
Nelson is now at 830 yards on the season with six touchdowns. He has eclipsed 120 yards rushing in each of the first five games of the season.
Look past Wayne at your own risk, as the Generals dropped a pair of games by a combined eight points and is averaging 23 points a contest.
• Yes, you’re right, Blitz sure did miss on the Leo v. East Noble game. After predicting a one-point win for East Noble, the Lions earned a 40-32 triumph.
But Blitz feels better about his pick after a second half that saw East Noble overcome a 20-point deficit. Credit too goes to Leo, which handled the changing of momentum over to the Knights yet still found a way to execute late.
Arguably the stat of the game was Leo going 5-for-5 on two-point conversions, while East Noble fumbled on a PAT and failed on a pair of two-point conversions.
You could make the point that this rivalry game was decided on the play after the touchdowns.
So now that we’ve been through the biggest matchup in the NE8, can we talk about Columbia City for just a few moments?
The Eagles are putting up big numbers and they did it again Friday as they ran away from DeKalb in what looked, very early, like it could be a close contest. Not many are counting the Eagles in for being able to truck down the stretch through Norwell, East Noble and Leo, but no matter where you land in what the future says, you have to laud the Eagles for a hard fought 4-1 start.
The best part about the big scoring weeks like the Eagles had against DeKalb is that it is a balanced attack. Columbia City spreads out the ball, they score consistently in all quarters and that is something that is nice to see. The running game has been on point all season and Friday, Ethan Sievers (138 yards), Abe Barrera (122), James Getts (98) and quarterback Greg Bolt (66) all found gaps to attack.
Bolt threw the ball ok, but he still connected for touchdowns on three of his six completions. Josh Arntz was again a leader on defense in stopping a struggling Barron offense.
How do you round it tall out? By kicking the ball well. Garrett Klefeker may have not hit on all his extra points on Friday (3/4) but he did hit every single field goal, four tot be exact with the longest of 37 yards.
• Adams Central’s league dominance may end up going down in history.
While it has been just two conference games, the Flying Jets are outscoring league foes 110-7. Of the final four games, only South Adams seems to have any shot at hanging around over four quarters at this point, and the Starfires just got shut out by Monroe Central.
AC averaged a first down PER PLAY on Friday’s in the 56-0 rout of Heritage. It needed just 39 plays to score eight touchdowns – with one each coming on defense and special teams. Alex Currie was the master multifaceted scorer this time scoring three different times, three different ways.
Meanwhile, the defense surrendered just seven first downs and forced three turnovers in the win.
It’s tough to see anyone finish within three touchdowns of the Flying Jets the remainder of the conference season.
• While it was a tough week for perennial ACAC top halfers South Adams and Bluffton, it was a great week and big week for both Woodlan and Jay County.
Woodlan didn’t face the stiffest challenge with Southern Wells, but nonetheless the Warriors put up big numbers for their first back to back winning scenario in two years. The Warriors are now looking to put together a win streak after starting the season 0-3.
The way they got the win, big quick hitters, could be a way that really works for Woodlan in the coming weeks. After throwing so well in week four, Woodlan quarterback Jake Snyder had five touchdowns in the win over Southern Wells with three through the air and two more on the ground. His passes were pinpointed and after a 6-of-7 effort, is now 36-of-43 in the past two weeks. Joe Reidy, Ethan Vardaman and Landin Golden each scored with Vardaman being the only one with more than one catch. Reidy scored on a 75 yard pass and Golden on a 43 yard connection.
Things were also good in Jay County where the Patriots scored their first win over Bluffton since 2016. The two wins in two years Jay County group is now 3-2 this year under a first year head coach and showing a lot of promise all over the field.
Quinn Faulkner‘s 253 rushing yards marked the second highest single yard rushing game in program history behind Justin Gilbert’s 313 in 2015. Faulkner just cut up the Tigers, scoring five different times amongst his 30 carries.
Kadin Ridenour was the highlight of the Jay County defense, leading the way with nine tackles and adding an interception. He led the charge that disrupted a Bluffton offense that not so long ago looked pretty fluid.
• Things are looking very interesting in the NECC Big Division.
Going into Friday night, Lakeland really looked dead in the water and Angola had to have been considered a heavy favorite. But, for the first time since 2013, it was the Lakers who took home a win in this matchup. The deciding factor? The leg of a freshman.
Carson Mickem knocked in the game winner from 20 yards out with 2.4 seconds left and Lakeland had a 30-28 win. We’ve seen this elsewhere this season: big kicks in closing seconds, many of them from inexperienced and/or freshman kickers.
Despite Finley Hasselman just putting on a masterful rushing game, Angola sits even at 1-1 with Lakeland in the division standings, but behind 1-0 Garrett. You only get four games against divisional foes, but after this one, with nobody sitting any worse than 0-1 Fairfield, this is still anyone’s battle to win.
• Warsaw took a big step towards its second-consecutive Northern Lakes Conference championship with a demolition of Northridge.
The Raiders entered Friday undefeated, but the Tigers ran away in a 36-3 victory, the first time Coach Bart Curtis’ team had kept a team without a touchdown since a win over Concord in October of 2018.
It was another run-heavy night, with German Flores-Ortega rushing for 153 yards and Jayce Sawyer adding 96 yards, but Warsaw actually went to the air to the tune of 89 yards. Hey, it’s not crazy numbers, but it’s something for Bart Ball.
Circle Week 9’s showdown at Concord as the Minutemen host Warsaw. The two teams are the only undefeated teams left in the NLC and that one may decide the NLC.
Columbia City scored 49 points or more points three times from 2003-2020. Over the last three weeks, the Eagles have scored 62, 49 and 51 points…Since 2019, Huntington North is 3-0 against Bellmont and 1-13 against the rest of the NE8…South Adams went 63 games between shutouts. Prior to Friday, the Starfires’ last game in which they were held scoreless was Oct. 9, 2015 in a 37-0 loss to Woodlan…Carroll head coach Doug Dinan became the winningest coach in program history on Friday. Dinan is now 84-44 as the Chargers’ head coach.