BLITZ: Can Friday’s win help return New Haven to the glory days, or merely a blip on the radar?

New Haven’s Jakar Williams works to free himself from Columbia City defenders during a September 24 game. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

Blitz went in to New Haven on Friday with an agenda.

For the third time in four years, Columbia City entered Week 6 with a record of 4-1 or better. Each of the previous two instances, the Eagles stumbled to the finish line of the regular season over the final four weeks.

So Blitz’s visit to the east of Fort Wayne was supposed to be a barometer for where CC is. Instead, this fuzzy cartoon animal left impressed with how New Haven looked in a 21-0 blanking of the Eagles.

It is no secret that things haven’t been the same at New Haven since the departure of head coach Jim Rowland following the 2017 season. Since then, the Bulldogs have not had a winning season, and sit just 2-4 this year after Friday’s rout.

But there is so much to like about both the team and the environment at a New Haven home game. The flashing strobes after TDs, the energetic crowd, the underrated accent lighting surrounding the field on the light poles – it is a phenomenal place for Friday Night Lights.

The personnel are also exciting. Jakar Williams had himself a night, throwing for a touchdown, scooping and scoring on another on defense and amassing close to 200 yards of total offense. Quantri Sanders was also big on both sides of the football, with a rushing touchdown to go with 160 yards on the ground. Linebacker Isaac Carswell is one of the best at his position in the area, and versatile to boot as he can play both inside and outside at the middle level.

New Haven’s Quantri Sanders tries to avoid a Columbia City tackle during a September 24 game. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

So you could say first-year coach Kyle Booher has the players to make some noise. Unfortunately, the trio mentioned above are all seniors. Factor in the likes of lineman Avyonn Creech, Kamari Clopton and Michael King (who did not play last night), and there is a heavy dose of upperclassmen on the Bulldogs.

The plan is simple. New Haven needed a philosophy change from the last few years. Once a familiar name atop the NE8 and NHC standings, the ‘dogs last won a league championship in 2017 and a playoff crown of any kind in 2016. As teams like East Noble and Leo has become more of a physical, bruising team, the Bulldogs tried to still knock off the favorites with a finesse style. It didn’t work, so Booher wants to change that.

New Haven will always have athletes, but it needs to become stronger, more physical and willing to mix it up. The Bulldogs did that against Columbia City. They pushed around the Eagles for four quarters. It finished tackles, it forced turnovers and altogether stymied any comeback attempt after leading by 21 points at the break.

And despite a 2-4 record, all is not lost this year. A final three games of Bellmont, Huntington North and East Noble includes two highly-winnable games and a matchup with a Knights team that has lost two straight. Sectional 20 is also not exactly loaded, with Delta and its 4-2 record the most impressive out of any team in the field.

Could Friday be the catalyst for the 2021 Bulldogs and an indicator that a return to form is coming for New Haven next year and beyond? Or is it another blip on the radar of a program spinning its wheels since its legendary coach departed?

Blitz hopes that brighter days are ahead for the purple and gold.

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

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