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.
Nine weeks of regular season action is now in the books. Teams have etched their names as conference champions. Players from around the area lived up to all the hype that drew big crowds on Friday nights. It was a regular season worth remembering for years to come, that’s for sure.
Before we head into the postseason gossip, I believe it’s fitting to acknowledge our 2021 conference champions and what their road will look like for their “second season.”
Over in the ACAC, Adams Central reclaimed its spot at the top after finishing second in the conference behind county rival South Adams the previous two years. The Flying Jets finished the regular season with an 8-1 overall record, with their only loss coming in a 21-19 Week 2 non-conference game against Eastside, who I will get to shortly.
In conference play, AC finished a perfect 6-0, scoring 48 or more points in each matchup. Opponents scored 14 points combined in those six games, with four of the six being shutouts.
In other words, Adams Central had absolutely no problem at all in the ACAC.
Round 1 of Class 1A Sectional 44 will be a game to keep an eye on as Adams Central is matched up against the Churubusco Eagles. In a game that most would look at as a clear runaway by the Flying Jets, the Eagles have shown many signs of promise throughout this season. The toughness, grit, and explosive playmaking of both teams gives me a reason to believe this one will be closer than most are expecting.
One of the two teams in northeast Indiana that finished the regular season at a perfect 9-0 resides in the NECC Small Division. The Eastside Blazers have been on a roll all season long. The two closest games they have had this season were against none other than Adams Central and Churubusco. Both games were decided by a possession, but throughout the season Eastside has always seemed to be in control against its opponents.
The Blazers will take on Bluffton in the opening round of Class 2A Sectional 35, a game in which Eastside is expected to win big. A potential Small Division rematch against Central Noble would take place in Round 2 and ultimately the highly probable 2A Sectional 35 championship game against Bishop Luers, should both teams win out. Over the past two seasons Eastside and Luers have both won a game apiece against the other. The two teams met in the sectional championship last year that resulted in a 56-49 shootout in favor of Luers. If history repeats itself, we are in for a treat!
Fairfield once again took home the crown in the NECC Big Division, a season in which the Falcons started on a three-game losing streak but managed to go 4-2 over the last six games. They finished conference play with a 3-1 record to win their second straight conference title. A key Week 8 victory against Lakeland secured their spot as the champs.
The Falcons are also members of 2A Sectional 35. The sectional draw paired them against Bishop Luers in the first round. The two teams met a season ago in a game the Knights went on to win 49-12 on the road in Goshen. This year the teams will line up in Fort Wayne at Shields Field in a game that could very well go similar as last year.
The Northeast 8 once again belongs to the Leo Lions. Arguably one of the best rushing attacks in the state, there hasn’t been a team to slow them down yet! Standing at an outstanding 9-0 on the season with a 7-0 conference record, the Lions have proven week in and week out why they are one of three teams undefeated in Class 4A. Every week this team comes out with the same identity and teams have not had the physicality to match up.
Leo takes on East Noble in the first round of Class 4A Sectional 19, a game that most wouldn’t mind seeing as the sectional championship game. If you all remember, these two teams met Week 5 when Leo got off to a 20-point lead going into halftime. The Knights scored 20 unanswered points in the second half, only to lose in the final seconds. If I can guarantee one thing, it’s that both teams will be ready! This one is easily the game of the week and the rematch we’ve all been waiting for.
The nine-game SAC season blessed fans with tight games every week, with the conference championship decided the very last week at Luersfield. That’s right, champions as in three. The three co-champions being Bishop Luers, Snider, and Carroll. All three teams finished the regular season with a single loss and look to be favorites heading into sectional play.
Bishop Luers has looked virtually unstoppable at times and has shown the ability to win some very close games against 5A and 6A opponents. Despite losing some key players in the process, the Knights have found ways to stay afloat winning games while nursing those players back to health. With a state title on its mind, Luers heads into the postseason looking to dominate.
As stated earlier, Luers will take on Fairfield in the first round of 2A Sectional 35. Although they are not looking past their opponent, the Knights will set out to take care of business early on. The potential rematch against Eastside is most certainly a game that would test the defense for both teams as the two high-scoring offenses can run up the scoreboard. The goal for the Knights is to punch their ticket back down to Lucas Oil Stadium and finish the job and they have the intangibles to make their case.
The Snider Panthers have earned their share as a conference champion as well. After losing Week 2 in a heartbreaker against Carroll, many ruled them out as contenders in the SAC. The Panthers followed the loss with a seven-game win streak, including their Week 9 victory over Bishop Luers to claim a portion of the Victory Bell. The Panthers have improved each week as they have hit their stride going into sectionals. Both offense and defense have made this Snider team the dominant program we have known in the past.
Snider will face stadium rival Northrop on October 29 in Class 5A Sectional 11. This sectional is unique because it is the only sectional that features all teams who are members of the SAC with Bishop Dwenger, North Side, Northrop and Snider. Having beat each team in the regular season, Snider is the clear-cut favorite. With the aggressive offensive line and tight end play, the backfield of Luke Haupert, Tyrese Brown and Langston Leavell are sure to make some noise this postseason. The Panthers could be on to something huge!
The Carroll Chargers paved their way as top dogs despite suffering an early loss to Luers the first week of the season. The senior leadership mixed in with the dynamic playmaking of underclassmen has made Carroll one of the most dangerous teams around. With their best season since joining the conference, the Chargers earned their first-ever SAC championship. They have proven the ability to be able to outscore teams and play physical defense and create turnovers.
Carroll will play against Homestead in 6A Sectional 3 in what I believe will be the most exciting sectional in the area. Homestead found themselves on the losing end of the matchup during the regular season, falling 17-10. Although there are only three teams in the sectional, the winner will take on Warsaw, who finished second in the Northern Lakes Conference. Sectional 3 could be described as the sectional most up for grabs. With Carroll riding an eight-game winning streak, they look to be the slight favorites in this big-time sectional.
With all the highs and lows of the regular season, nothing matters anymore besides winning. Indiana high school football allows for everyone to enter the postseason with the opportunity to start with a clean slate. The time to go all in is now.
The regular season and conference play most certainly did not disappoint and fans have enjoyed every snap of the action. From this point on it is not about who can make the most spectacular highlight plays, but who has the will to go out and complete the task at hand. The focus now turns to pure heart and will for your team to be forever immortalized and crowned a champion!
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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