Week 8: Five area players to watch tonight on the gridiron

Fairfield’s Cohen Custer takes the field prior to September 10’s game at Fremont.

Week 8 is headed your way tonight and as always, we talk about five players that you should keep an eye on. Maybe they did well last week? Maybe they have a favorable or intriguing matchup?

Here are the players to keep on watch:

COHEN CUSTER, Fairfield at Lakeland

With the NECC Big Division title on the line, Fairfield will look to overcome its 0-3 start to the season with a crown tonight.

The Falcons have won two straight and three of their last four as Custer has been a consistent threat for the defense.

Fairfield’s defense has been able to hold off the likes of Angola and Garrett the past two weeks and Custer at cornerback has been able to be one of the leaders in tackles each week with a strong ability to help break up passing plays to boot.

NOLAN RHOADES, East Noble vs. New Haven

Rhoades is coming off a career game in a big, close win over Columbia City and is sitting as arguably East Noble’s second best defensive player with the second most tackles. He proved himself significantly dangerous last week in that win with 19 tackles, 13 of those solo and three for a loss; he also added in a sack against the Eagles. Those kind of numbers are something that are nearly impossible to replicate. How often can someone rally off 19 tackles like that? As East Noble looks to gain postseason momentum, this game against New Haven is important and no defender in the area has more momentum right now than Rhoades.

RYAN TESTER, Adams Central at Bluffton

The Flying Jets’ ACAC title isn’t quite in hand yet. It gets a little bit closer if they can get a win tonight. Tester is a guy who has done a lot of everything for AC to get it to a point where it has surrendered just 14 total points in conference play. Tester is a top-notch defender and he had four tackles last week in a blowout win over Southern Wells.

A player like Tester is tough against Bluffton because he can float around and challenge the Tigers whether they go to the air or stick to the ground. Expect him to make an impact as the Flying Jets try to maintain their tough defensive play.

ALEX HOLCOMB, Leo vs. Columbia City

This is a week where we are focusing a bit on underrated guys. It makes sense then to throw out Holcomb’s name because as much as we talk about a whole bevy of Leo guys weekly, especially with their big-point offense, it is almost always Holcomb that shows up in the stat sheet as leading this team in tackles. He does lead the Lions with 33 tackles despite playing in just the last four games for the Lions. He had eight again last week in a win over a Huntington North team that did its best to grind it out on the ground. Holcomb has been there consistently for the last month and there is no reason to think he won’t be again this week as Leo inches towards the NE8 title.

BUBBA CRAIG, Concordia vs. Carroll

Did anyone else see Craig rumble as a ball carrier last week? Yes, it was one carry and it was for one yard, but it was also for a touchdown. Does Concordia now have a short yardage threat going forward? One has to like the Cadets’ thinking.

It is just the latest talent for one of the area’s more underrated linemen. The 6-foot-8 junior is becoming a bigger threat, even if Concordia is 1-6. He continues to get stronger and more mobile and that means he can help the Cadets in a variety of ways. That touchdown last week was just the icing on the cake.

Three years ago, we saw Outside the Huddle Player of the Year Joe Tippmann line up in the backfield for some critical offensive possessions for Bishop Dwenger, could Craig now be the next lineman to alter games running the ball?

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