Blitz and Outside the Huddle are counting down who they feel are the top 50 individual players in northeast Indiana heading into the 2022 season.
Today, we begin the unveiling of the best players in the area with positions No. 50-46.
No. 50: DL Mike King III, senior, South Side
King presents a problem up front for Archers’ opponents on both sides of the line of scrimmage.
Offensively, the 6-foot-3, 220-pound tackle has superb hand placement and drive to effectively take a defensive lineman out of the play.
But it is on defense where King truly shines. He isn’t the most fleet-afoot d-lineman around, but he is one of the best at getting off blocks and into the backfield. What is so impressive about King is how his head is always up looking at where the play is going. It sounds easy enough, but so many defensive linemen focus more on who is blocking them than where the play is going.
King’s pursuit skills are also exceptional for a player his size. He could drop his hands a little lower, both in leverage and when he tackles someone, but his motor is always going.
No. 49: RB/DB Gavin Cook, senior, Adams Central
The Flying Jets had some youngsters in the secondary last season, and Cook was one of the best.
As a junior, Cook amassed close to 100 tackles while also seeing some spot action on offense. With the top three rushers gone from last season, expect Cook to now see more carries on that side of the ball.
But defense is where Cook has made the biggest impact. Despite being just 5-foot-5, he is a relentless player who can line up at linebacker and at defensive back. He almost gets lost in the play due to his lack of stature, but he finishes as strong as anyone. He was voted All-ACAC First Team at DB in 2021.
COACH’S QUOTE ON GAVIN COOK
“Gavin is our best defensive player. He is tough as nails. We call him ‘the mosquito’ – small but packs a punch!” – Adams Central coach Michael Mosser
No. 48: DL Zac Wurm, junior, Adams Central
A First Team All-ACAC selection last year as a defensive lineman, the 6-foot-2, 255-pound Wurm is tough to contain up front. He led the Flying Jets in sacks last year and was one of the top defenders in tackles for loss.
Wurm is also great at sealing the edge offensively when he lines up at the tight end spot, a perfect complement to a run-heavy package. But his bulk makes him exceptional in the interior along the offensive front.
When we talk why Adams Central is so good, it starts at the line of scrimmage. Wurm dominates on both sides.
COACH’S QUOTE ON ZAC WURM
“Zac is our best lineman, both offensive and defensive. He is a major force and very hard for teams to handle.” – Adams Central coach Michael Mosser
No. 47: DE Nic Ley, sophomore, DeKalb
Not many freshmen crack postseason all-conference teams at the prep level, regardless of what league it is. But that’s exactly what Ley did in 2021 for the Barons, accumulating over 50 tackles up front on defense along with a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Expect bigger things from the 6-3, 220-pound Ley this year as he becomes a true defensive force in the NE8.
Don’t be surprised to see the big body also used on the offensive side of the ball, where quarterback Tegan Irk has the majority of his receiving target back, including Ley’s d-end mate Derek Overbay.
COACH’S QUOTE ON NIC LEY
“Nic Ley is a versatile athlete with great length. But one of his biggest strengths is his flexibility and willingness to try new assignments. Towards the end of last season, he was hard to block and a disruptive force on defense.” – DeKalb coach Seth Wilcox
No. 46: QB Luke Haupert, senior, Snider
No player has started more games for Snider at the quarterback prior to their senior year than Haupert. Will that experience translate into a huge senior year?
Haupert has all the tools. His arm strength is solid and his ability to run the Snider offense is exceptional. While he has not had to step up often in the clutch with a Panthers program that ran the ball at will on people at times last year, Haupert has performed when need be.
All indications are that Haupert can be a 2,000-yard passer for Snider in 2022. With several returning starters back up front and some weaponry in the backfield and on the outside, the senior should flourish behind center this fall.
COACH’S QUOTE ON LUKE HAUPERT
“As a quarterback everyone is looking towards you as a leader, and Luke accepts that and leads. He has a vast amount of experience in our system and it is his execution and making the right decisions that makes our offense go.” – Snider coach Kurt Tippmann