OTH Game of the Week: Churubusco at Eastside

One of the area’s most underrated games will take center stage in Week 4 as we look at a true NECC conference game.

Are these two teams the best in their division?We are all excited to see how close they really are to each other in Butler.

Churubusco at Eastside is the Outside the Huddle Game of the Week.


The two teams sit at a combined 3-3 heading into Friday’s meeting, but this is the first game for each in the NECC Small Division. That said, there is a thought that this game is for the division championship. While Fremont boasts two wins and Prairie Heights has one, nobody in the division has a win against a NECC opponent outside of Churubusco.

So is this truly a title game? It is, at the very least, a title eliminator.

With just five teams in the division, one loss often eliminates a team from title town. In the eight-year history since the NECC’s divisional break, just once has a non-unbeaten in-division team won the championship: in 2017 when Churubusco, Eastside and Central Noble all tied at 3-1.

What’s more is that Central Noble’s 2017 co-champion title is the only time a team outside of Eastside or Churubusco has ever won the small division.

In the eight years of the NECC Small Division, with the exception of 2017’s three-team tie, the winner of this game has always won the championship.

It is that simple. That is what is on the line on Friday.


History played out in what you read above, but we can get a bit more specific here.

Eastside has won the NECC Small Division title seven times in the eight years it has existed. In six of those seasons, it beat Churubusco.

The Eagles’ only wins in that eight-year span? In 2017 when both teams shared the title with Central Noble and in 2018 when Churubusco won it outright by handing Eastside its only division defeat.

In the six of the last eight years in which Eastside has won the division outright, Busco has finished second five times: 2021, 2019, 2016, 2015 and 2014.

Each time that Churubusco has finished second to Eastside in the division, it has done it at 3-1 with its lone loss coming at the hands of the Blazers. Even in 2020’s Covid year when Churubusco technically finished third, going 1-1 in NECC divisional play, its only loss was to Eastside.

All in all, the two teams have combined to lose nine times in the NECC Small Division in the last eight seasons and eight of those losses were to each other. So you could say that this has become a bit of an underrated rivalry along the way.

While Eastside has had the edge in the divisional era of the NECC, it is Churubusco holding a 20-19 edge over the past 35 years, with the teams also meeting on and off in the postseason. They last met in the playoffs in 2016 before current Eastside coach Todd Mason took over. That game went to Churubusco 21-16 in the opening round of sectional play. A Paul Sade-coached Churubusco team also beat Eastside in the 2013 sectionals.

Last season was a fun game to watch with a rolling Eastside getting a good test in Turtle Town. Ultimately, it was the Blazers’ first-quarter touchdown that was the difference in a 20-13 win. Laban Davis had one of those Laban Davis games, running for 195 yards and passing for 106. Churubusco countered with its own studs as Nick Nondorf ran for 144 yards and caught for 46 while Riley Buroff threw for 54 yards and had a big interception defensively. Nearly every stat across the board was close for the two teams.

Eastside running back Briar Munsey advances the ball on August 26 in the second quarter against Adams Central in Monroe. (Photo by Mike Moore)



Coming off a week where he did just about everything in a win over Garrett, Buroff is the key. Containing him may be a bit of a bigger challenge. Last Friday, Buroff threw for 50 yards, rushed for 68 and caught a pass for 21 yards. Then he flipped to the other side of the ball, had a team third-best six tackles and a pass deflection while also averaging 45 yards per punt. That’s a week after he picked off two passes defensively while being an impact player on offense. He does everything and it is always interesting to watch.


Eastside fell in overtime last Friday to West Noble, but Jacobs had himself a night reminiscent of the last QB1 in Butler. Throwing for 65 yards was fine, but Jacobs also took off for 142 yards on the ground, showing some athleticism mixed with some ground and pound. Jacobs too is multi dimensional, picking off a pass and sending his only punt of the game sailing for 47 yards.



Around 90 percent of Eastside’s offense this season has come on the run. Briar Munsey (391 yards), Carsen Jacobs (340 yards), Dax Holman (144 yards) and Brady Laub (25 yards) all have double-digit carries. Expect that trend to continue this week. Churubusco is going to have to find ways to contain a bevy of backs with different styles, with Munsey and Holman each going for over seven yards per carry.


Of West Noble’s 219 yards last week, 171 came on the ground and 97 of those came from quarterback Drew Yates. Allowing a quarterback to break the pocket and get off big runs is not something Eastside can allow again this week as Churubusco’s Riley Buroff is above average at doing just that. Buroff has already run for 123 yards in the first three games. As Buroff gets more comfortable, it opens up the more power run game of Wyatt Marks (306 yards) too. Eastside needs to contain the backfield but it may very well start with making Buroff stand still.


With Carsen Jacobs still new at this starting quarterback thing, the Eagles should throw everything, perhaps even the kitchen sink, at him. Last week against Garrett, Busco had three sacks from Wyatt Marks, Brandt Hurley and Cullen Blake while Blake (eight) and Hurley (seven) led the team in tackles. Churubusco is going to need to make Jacobs uncomfortable.


The Blazers have now lost back-to-back games for the first time since 2019, when they lost to Adams Central and West Noble before bouncing back in a 42-14 win over Churubusco. While the Adams Central loss didn’t sting too much given the Flying Jets’ status among area teams, few saw West Noble coming last week.

In the loss to West Noble, the numbers would probably lie to you versus the final score. The Blazers converted better on third and fourth down, had substantially more first downs (25-10) and outgained West Noble in yardage 343-219. Eastside also had possession of the ball for 32 minutes, 57 seconds of a 48-minute game. The Blazers did a lot well last week, they just need to continue doing it and shoring up a few things.


Check back for Blitz’s picks to find out!

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