Outside the Huddle and Blitz are counting down who they feel are the top 50 players in northeast Indiana heading into the 2022 season.
Today, we continue unveiling the best players in the area with positions No. 30-26.
No. 30: LB/RB Josh Arntz, senior, Columbia City
It is hard to pinpoint a single defensive position that Arntz plays.
He is thought of as an outside linebacker, but his ability to drop in coverage makes him almost a hybrid defensive back.
Then there is the ability to attack in the backfield, evidenced by his 11 tackles for loss in 2021, and you begin to think of Arntz as a threat off the edge.
Add it all together and you get one of the top defenders in the Northeast 8.
Arntz was voted Second Team All-NE8 a year ago, accumulating 63 tackles and six INTs to go with his TFLs.
On offense, he made the most of his opportunities, averaging over six yards per rush and scoring five touchdowns on his 24 carries. Expect more production in the backfield this year as well.
COACH’S QUOTE ON JOSH ARNTZ
“Josh is an animal on the field and in the weight room. He simply makes plays, an OLB that has six INTs tell you he can cover and come up and knock you out as well.” – Columbia City coach Josh Arntz
No. 29: S/Slot Andre Tagliaferri, senior, Angola
When it comes to weapons in the Northeast Corner Conference, there are not many better than Tagliaferri.
Whether it is lining up all over the field on offense, returning kicks or playing safety on defense, Angola puts Tagliaferri in positions to affect the game in multiple ways.
The senior isn’t overly big and physical, but packs a punch far above his 5-foot-10, 170-pound frame. He has the ability to beat linebackers split out to cover the slot, then find the soft spot in the defense.
Tagliaferri’s open-field moves are impressive, almost never going down to the first tackler in pursuit. He is a fundamentally sound player on defense, moved around close to the line of scrimmage or deep as the scheme dictates.
Expect to see the senior at safety as well.
COACH’S QUOTE ON ANDRE TAGLIAFERRI
“Andre is an explosive athlete. He runs well and catches the ball well. He has a nose for the ball on defense. We are most proud of him for the renewed commitment he has shown in the classroom.” – Angola coach Andy Thomas
No. 28: WR Donnie Wiley, senior, DeKalb
How a receiver plays the ball in the air can be the difference between a serviceable wide receiver and a good one. Perhaps no one in the NE8 does that better than Wiley.
Time after time in 2021 Wiley was able to find the ball in the air from QB Tegan Irk, adjust his body accordingly and come down with the catch in traffic. His ability to secure the ball in a sea of defenders is high level, rarely allowing the ball to be knocked away after it hits his hands.
How deadly is Wiley? Consider that almost a third of his receptions in 2021 went for touchdowns – 10 of them on 37 catches. His 550 receiving yards were tops on the team, and he was also dangerous in the return game, taking a kickoff to the house against Bellmont.
As DeKalb looks to work its way up the NE8 standings in 2022, Wiley’s playmaking ability is expected to be on full display.
COACH’S QUOTE ON DONNIE WILEY
“Donnie has developed into an all-around great Baron football player. Donnie is a great receiver, a great leader and a great competitor. He is primed to have an excellent season.” – DeKalb coach Seth Wilcox
No. 27: TE Jayden Hill, senior, Carroll
A true tight end with all the tools.
Hill won’t win any speed contests, but his ability to make players miss makes up for it. His 6-foot, 212-pound frame makes him a big target – either in close to the line of scrimmage or slid out into the slot.
He is an offensive player, but Hill dishes out punishment. He almost seeks out the chance to lower the shoulder and plow into a smaller defensive back. Highlights even include him throwing off prospective tacklers, a testament to his strength.
At Bishop Luers in 2021, Hill was more than just a safety net for QB Carson Clark, hauling in 41 passes for 549 yards and 11 scores. He averaged close to 14 yards a reception, proof that he can get downfield and make plays.
Hill truly has D1 ability as a tight end and could end up landing there with a big senior campaign at Carroll.
COACH’S QUOTE ON JAYDEN HILL
“Jayden Hill joins the Chargers after a very successful junior year at Bishop Luers. Jayden is multidimensional as he can play both tight end and wide receiver being a big body that runs well. We are very excited for his senior year.” – Carroll coach Doug Dinan
No. 26: DL/OL Mitchell Vargovich, North Side
One of the best pass rushers in the area, Vargovich has a perfect mix of agility and athleticism that allow him to make a lineman whiff on a block and notch a tackle for loss or a sack mere seconds after the snap.
A First Team All-SAC selection in 2021, Vargovich was a constant in defensive backfields from his edge spot. He was also exceptional up front on offense, making way for North’s running backs.
This season, expect to see Vargovich factoring in predominantly on the defensive side of the ball, with added numbers allowing the Legends to keep most linemen from having to perform double duty. This will keep the senior fresh and allow him to focus on his top attribute – terrorizing opponents from his D-line spot.
COACH’S QUOTE ON MITCHELL VARGOVICH
“Mitch is a great two-way player for us. He was all-conference for us on d-line. One of the strongest kids on our team. Mitch is the ultimate team player. We know that he is going to give us everything he’s got on each and every play.” – North Side coach Ben Johnson