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. 25-21.
No. 25: RB Ethan Sievers, senior, Columbia City
A solid mix of speed and toughness, Sievers returns for his senior campaign after rushing for over 1,000 yards and nine touchdowns in 2021.
It’s easy to see on film why Sievers is so effective. He is quick at hitting the hole and runs eyes up, allowing him to shift on a dime. He is a rugged runner who always seems to fall forward at the end of plays, getting that extra bit of yardage that can be the difference between a first down and a punting situation.
The senior also does a tremendous job at protecting the football, tucking the rock underneath both arms as he makes his way through the line of scrimmage.
Sievers eclipsed the 100-yard rushing mark on four different occasions last season, including a 27-carry, 270-yard effort against Bellmont in Week 3.
COACH’S QUOTE ON ETHAN SIEVERS
“Ethan is sneaky good. He just needs a small crease and he has the speed to then take it to the house. He doesn’t just have the speed but he has the body to take over 20 carries if that is what you need too! Not too many backs around have a 27-carry, 270-yard game that are returning this year.” – Columbia City coach Brett Fox
No. 24: OL/DL Truman Wirtz, senior, Leo
While Leo did lose several big bodies along both lines, there are still returning studs – the primary one being Wirtz.
Numbers aren’t gaudy for interior linemen at any level, but Wirtz did his job in 2021 bottling up the middle to where the edge rushers and outside linebackers could make plays. Leo’s stout run defense begins with guys like Wirtz, who can routinely get a push up front that immediately puts the offensive line back on its heels.
On offense, Wirtz will be looked upon to be a leader of an offensive line that no longer has the likes of Landen Livingston and Sam Htoo to look towards. All is good, Wirtz is ready to perform.
COACH’S QUOTE ON TRUMAN WIRTZ
“Truman Wirtz is another returning senior lineman for us who we will rely on both offensively and defensively. He is a strong lineman that is very good with his hands and also possesses the ability to get out and block people in space. He has great feet for an athlete his size.” – Leo coach Jason Doerffler
No. 23: DE/TE Nehemiah Young, senior, Wayne
While Young did put up the numbers and make the impact to be named All-SAC First Team a season ago on the edge, the scary thing was he was just scratching the surface of his potential.
With an offseason of work and development under his belt, Young could be in line for a special 2022 campaign. The 6-foot-3 defensive end is extremely active with his hands and has a burst that can own many an offensive linemen right off the snap.
On offense, Young uses his physicality to be a top-end blocking tight end who can also release and get open for a pass.
Young finished last season with 63 tackles, 11 TFL and five sacks. All of those metrics should rise this season as the senior looks to lead the Generals by example and by vocal leadership.
COACH’S QUOTE ON NEHEMIAH YOUNG
“Nehemiah is a BEAST. Best blocking tight end I’ve ever had. I would rank him as one of the best D-ends in my 34 years. Great work ethic and leader. Just a dominant player on both sides of the ball.” – Wayne coach Sherwood Haydock
No. 22: WR/DB Cade Shelton, junior, Norwell
Whether it is on the football field, the baseball diamond or the basketball court, Shelton has already made quite the impact in athletics at Norwell.
Considering he is just entering his junior year, that’s a tad scary.
Shelton was one of just three sophomores named All-NE8 First Team last season on the gridiron. He led the Knights in receiving yards and touchdowns while also securing a trio of interceptions from his DB spot to go with 43 tackles.
As Norwell looks to continue to make noise in the NE8 and beyond in 2022, look for Shelton to be that big-play guy – whether it be downfield in the pass game or forcing turnovers on defense.
COACH’S QUOTE ON CADE SHELTON
“Cade is a hard-working kid that leads by example. When a play needs to be made, he’s a kid we can count on to get the job done.” – Norwell coach Josh Gerber
No. 21: RB/OLB Ethan Crawford, senior, Leo
Pick your poison with Ethan Crawford.
As a junior, he rushed for close to 500 yards and nine touchdowns. With Mason Sheron graduated, Crawford could receive RB1 carries for the Lions with his attributes of streaking through the hole and breakaway speed in the open field.
On defense, Crawford returns as one of Leo’s leading tacklers, with 48.5 last year to go with five pass breakups and four tackles for loss.
Add ’em together and you have a true two-way stud who can impact the game on any given play on either side of the ball.
COACH’S QUOTE ON ETHAN CRAWFORD
“Ethan Crawford is an electric player with the ball is in hands. He is tremendously quick and explosive, but is also comfortable running in between the tackles. He can catch the ball, run the ball, return kicks, and is a great defensive player as well. We will also rely heavily on his leadership and his ability to positively influence his teammates.” – Leo coach Jason Doerffler