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. 20-16
No. 20: RB Langston Leavell, senior, Snider
Tyrese Brown was arguably the best player in the SAC last season. His ability to carve up defenses to the tune of over 1,500 yards and 20-plus touchdowns was a big asset to the Panthers.
Complementing Brown was Leavell, who took over games himself at times a year ago on the way to 600 yards rushing and four scores. Leavell rivaled Brown in average yards per rush, a testament not only to Leavell, but the line that both ran behind.
With Brown gone, Leavell is now the primary backfield option for Snider. He is a big bruiser who runs low to the ground but can also stick a foot in the ground and make a move to avoid a defender. His speed is underrated as well, with his burst evident on the gridiron and in the outfield on the Snider baseball team.
Look for Leavell to continue the run of 1,000-yard rushers for the Panthers.
COACH’S QUOTE ON LANGSTON LEAVELL
“Langston returns for us at RB and will do the majority of the workload in the run game. There were several games last year that we needed a spark in the running game and Langston was able to provide in key moments. This gives us great optimism about his ability to add to our offense this year. He is a big RB (200+ pounds) and has the speed to break away from defenders.” – Snider coach Kurt Tippmann
No. 19: S/RB Braden Steely, junior, Carroll
When the new Carroll football complex hosted its first game last season, Steely delivered the fireworks by returning the opening kickoff for a touchdown.
The return game is just one area in which Steely makes an impact on the field. He showed last year that a sophomore on the back end of the defense can be far from a reliability. His combination of top-end speed with high-level football instincts make him a great asset in playing the run or the pass. The junior’s ability to read offenses pre-snap and adjust with men in motion is exceptional, and he finishes tackles as fundamentally sound as you will see, staying low and wrapping at the waist.
Now a year older and more polished, Steely will be tough to keep off the field in all three facets of the game, giving Carroll a true home run threat on offense and in special teams on every play.
COACH’S QUOTE ON BRADEN STEELY
“Braden returns as a starter on defense at safety. He has great ball skills and coverage ability. He also defends the run very well from the safety level. Braden also is a dynamic returner as he took three kickoffs to the house in 2021. We are very excited about the 2022 season for Braden.” – Carroll coach Doug Dinan
No. 18: OL/DL Dane Sebert, junior, Eastside
Some of the best individual talent at Eastside has moved on, but there are some pieces that remain.
One of those pieces is a 6-foot-3, 275-pound mauler by the name of Dane Sebert.
A Class 2A All-State selection in 2021, Sebert primarily holds down the guard spot on offense. The junior has quick hands and engages right at the snap, driving his legs until the defender is completely out of the play, and even after that. The Eastside rushing attack last year would not have been what it was without players like Sebert, who set the tone in the trenches.
Sebert also sees some action along the defensive front. His ability to shift pre-snap with teammates puts him in positions to succeed, evidenced by his 22 tackles from a year ago.
COACH’S QUOTE ON DANE SEBERT
“Dane is a tremendous character kid who has an excellent work ethic and plays the game 100 percent the right way. He is going to be a force on both sides of the ball for us, and we are excited to see his dedication in the weight room show on Friday nights this year.” – Eastside coach Todd Mason
No. 17: DT Jackson Christmon, senior, Homestead
Versatile defensive linemen who can move inside and out and can both clog up the interior and be a disruptive force in the offensive backfield are not commonplace at the high school level.
Christmon fits the bill – a long, athletic lineman that has quick feet and even quicker hands, the senior is one of the best at his position(s) in the area.
As a junior, Christmon put up some gaudy numbers for a d-lineman – 44 tackles, 11 TFL, nine sacks and a fumble recovery. The love from outsiders may not be there considering where he lines up, but his impact is critical for Homestead’s defense.
COACH’S QUOTE ON JACKSON CHRISTMON
“Jackson is a very athletic DL. He is a smart player with a good motor.” – Homestead coach Chad Zolman
No. 16: LB/FB Keegan Bluhm, junior, Adams Central
Yes, it is Class 1A, but anytime you’re one of your team’s top players as a sophomore, it goes to show just how good of a football player you are.
Bluhm is arguably the top player on the Flying Jets roster despite being a junior. Part of an ultra-talented Class of 2024, Bluhm finished second on the team last year in tackles, north of 100 of them, to go with 16 tackles for loss and 3.5 sacks. Instinctually, the junior has what it takes to read a play, accelerate and make a tackle at or behind the line of scrimmage.
In a lot of ways, Bluhm is the heir apparent to the graduated Blake Heyerly, who led Adams Central in both tackles and rushing yards in 2021.
COACH’S QUOTE ON KEEGAN BLUHM
“An outstanding player – he will playa major role on both sides of the ball. We did lose Blake Heyerly, but we have Keegan Bluhm – very similar to him.” – Adams Central coach Michael Mosser