Typically, Blitz’s personal awards wait until the end of the season. I guess that is why we call this one accolades then, right?
We can’t truly give out official awards just five weeks in, but what we can do is look at who would likely take home those honors were everything to end today. Just at the halfway point with a lot of football left, there have been some truly impressive seasons so far and other second-half things to watch.
So here today are not awards, but some Blitz accolades for the first half of the 2021 high school football season:
PLAYER OF THE 1/2 YEAR: Laban Davis
There is something magical about the kind of year that Laban Davis is putting out. It is probably fair to say that as of halftime of the 2021 season, he is the most untouchable player in the area.
Eastside sits at 5-0 and at the very top of its statistics is the kingpin that is Laban Davis, who has accounted for 22 Eastside touchdowns and 1,630 all-purpose yards. As a team, Eastside has 23 touchdowns.
Davis is completing just under 70 percent of his passes for 695 total yards while rushing 119 times for 935 yards through five weeks. Gaudy is one way you could describe his numbers. He has also been a nominee for the FAN VOTE Player of the Week four times.
Davis’ QB rating and completion percentages are at career high points and it is possible he has his best single season throwing yardage wise this year depending on how long the Blazers can play this postseason. He does sit just 43 yards from surpassing 4,000 yards passing for his career heading into Week 6.
On the ground, Davis is just shy of 300 yards away from surpassing what he did over 13 games last season. He sits just 120 yards away from surpassing 3,000 for his career. And since he is averaging 187 rushing yards per game in 2021, that milestone shouldn’t take long either.
Other Candidates: Carson Clark, Bishop Luers; Lamarion Nelson, Wayne; Tyrese Brown, Snider; Landen Livingston, Leo; Will Hoover, Central Noble
FIRST HALF MVP: Tyrese Brown
If you havent heard before, OTH uses the MVP for what it really is: the best player? Sometimes. But always the guy who has been most valuable to their team.
Snider went through some growing pains on the defensive end to start this season despite being 3-1 at this point. Needless to say, it needed someone to make up for it on offense. And while the passing game has been crucial at times, it would be a lie to say that the Panthers haven’t put a lot of faith on the legs of Brown.
He has run for almost 800 yards on the season and the Panthers are in the running for the SAC title if they can win outright.
Other Candidates: Laban Davis, Eastside; Luke Graft, Norwell; Kainon Carico, East Noble; Blake Heyerly, Adams Central
COACH OF THE 1/2 YEAR: Jared Sauder
This is an interesting race. It is hard to say that anybody at the top of this list hasn’t been aided by both their own savvy AND a quality roster. Sauder stands at the top of my list right now because people again questioned if his run-heavy game could dominate.
People should stop second guessing Jared Sauder’s plan. His team has thrown five non-conversion passes in five weeks and the Lions stand unbeaten, the frontrunner in the NE8 and one of the top ranked teams in the state. Sauder has been headstrong in pushing his game planning and it has paid major dividends to this point.
Other Candidates: Kyle Lindsay, Bishop Luers; Michael Mosser, Adams Central; Todd Mason, Eastside; Hayden Kilgore, Central Noble
GAME OF THE 1/2 YEAR: Leo at East Noble
Call it recency bias if you must, but this game lived up to the hype and the billing and did it in a different, but still fun way. Early on this game looked to be a blowout with Leo literally running away with it. But East Noble has been a state title contender recently for a reason: their coaches can make halftime adjustments.
A game tied at 32 before Leo marched down the field with just over three minutes to play, this wasn’t over until the very end: literally. East Noble was nine yards away from the end zone before turning it over on downs in the closing seconds.
Big yardage, big turnovers, big hits and big coaching. It is hard to argue against this as the best game so far, even if it did just happen last week.
Other Candidates: Adams Central at Eastside; Snider at North Side; Bishop Luers at Carroll; Garrett at New Haven
MOST OVERRATED TEAM: North Side
Is there a way to run this category without social media blowback? Eh, probably not. So bring it on.
OTH wasn’t alone in having North Side ranked in its top teams going into the season. So a 1-4 mark out of those games, especially after being literal seconds away from a win over Snider in Week 1, is something that has to be considered a let down for those who were on board for North Side going into the season.
Yes, the Legends had a tough first few weeks on the schedule, we don’t doubt that. But considering there were murmurs of this team competing for a SAC title and now they need a strong finish to avoid the SAC basement, there has been a lot of overrating for a team that has a ton of talent but just hasn’t been able to put together, be it injury, quarantine or other reasons.
Other Candidates: South Adams, Fairfield, Bishop Dwenger
MOST UNDERRATED TEAM: Warsaw
If you are a fan of Blitz’s weekly power poll, then this spot won’t shock you at all.
In the area, Warsaw gets kind of forgotten because it isn’t aren’t in one of our “big four” conferences. Yet, the Tigers have shined. And since they could be postseason foes of Homestead and Carroll, it is time for Fort Wayne to take notice. The Tigers did play both of those teams, beating one of them, last postseason.
Warsaw’s game is similar to Leo’s in the fact that it is run, run, run with the occasional throw. German Flores-Ortega has been terrific on the ground and filled in greatly for some graduated backs in the Bart Ball philosophy.
Other Candidates: Eastside; Adams Central; Central Noble; Bishop Luers
TOP 2ND HALF STORYLINE: The NE8 race
Of all of the conferences that are really open heading into the second half of the season, you probably ask Blitz, why is the Northeast 8 more important?
Columbia City. That is why. Last season, the Eagles started 6-0, then played the conference’s toughest teams in the final three weeks and the sectional opener. This season, they sit 4-1 and unbeaten in conference with that heavy New Haven, East Noble, Leo and Norwell schedule coming up to finish things out.
As much as we have talked about Leo and East Noble at the top of the conference, the reality is that the Eagles are again tied at the top of the conference heading into the second half. Last season, it didn’t work out for them, but an Eagles push could see them play spoiler in a league that most of us wrote off as over after Leo’s win over East Noble.
Quarterback Greg Bolt is solidly coming back to form after missing some time, but the Eagles have been able to develop depth behind him in his absence. Ethan Sievers has been terrific on the ground, Josh Arntz is one of the area’s most underrated defenders and we’ve started to see freshman Stratton Fuller become one of the area’s best breakout performers.
Columbia City has been able to score big through Week 5, but if the defense can match that in the second half, the Eagles could throw the NE8 out of expected alignment.
Other Candidates: NECC Big Division race; SAC title race (Luers-Snider-Carroll); SAC passing record race
WHO PLAYS AT STATE?
This is always a challenge. Who really has the chance to play for a state title? Blitz says we are back at Lucas Oil Stadium this Thanksgiving weekend the same way we were there last year: in Class 1A and Class 2A.
It is almost a no brainer to project that Bishop Luers will be back for a second straight season after falling JUST short a season ago. The Knights have been powerful and sometimes dominant as they’ve started 5-0 and are in the drivers seat to win the SAC despite being the conference’s smallest school. If 6A schools can’t stop the Knights’ offense, who in 2A will be able to? Yup, Bishop Luers is going back to state.
Joining them could be Adams Central. The Flying Jets may not have the big stats of South Adams a year ago, but what they do is similar enough. AC has a lot of guys doing a lot of everything and it has diversified its offense and challenged the defense. The Flying Jets are making major waves and people are taking notice. Is it time for a return to Indianapolis?
These opinions represent those of Blitz and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Blitz on Twitter at Blitz_OTH