We’re in it now. We’re near the halfway point of the season as Week 4 approaches and there are still lots of unknowns, including some of my players to watch.
Here are five players to watch this week:
Peyton Slaven, Homestead vs. Bishop Dwenger
Slaven has been off to a solid start in his senior year with the Spartans. Their 3-0 record hasn’t been talked about a lot and that has something to do with the level of opponents they’ve played in the first three weeks. The competition started to ramp up last week with a trip to Luersfield and only continues to rise with the Saints tonight. Dwenger’s defense isn’t as vaunted as in year’s past, which favors Slaven and the Spartan offense. Expect Slaven to distribute the ball to his plethora of weapons to try and keep Homestead undefeated.
Andre Tagliaferri, Angola vs. West Noble
Every game to start the season has been close for the Hornets and tonight won’t be any different when they welcome West Noble. The senior speedster is dangerous and a threat to take it to the house at any time. Just ask Chelsea (Mich.), which saw Tagliaferri return a kickoff for a touchdown. He also broke off a 54-yard score in the fourth quarter to pull the Hornets within two. The Chargers proved they are a much-improved squad this year with an overtime win over Eastside last week, which means this week’s contest could go a long way into deciding the NECC Big Division. West Noble has struggled to contain Tagliaferri in the past. He finished with three catches for 154 yards, five rushes for 51 yards and three total touchdowns in last year’s 38-10 win over the Chargers.
Luke Teusch, Huntington North vs. Columbia City
The Vikings have shown that they are going to be pesky once again in the Northeast 8. A big reason for that is Luke Teusch. He makes plays on both sides of the ball. The junior had 105 rushing yards, a touchdown and an interception last week in a tight loss to East Noble. The Eagles are also a team trying to break up the dominance at the top of the conference. Huntington North hasn’t beaten Columbia City since 2009 and have lost every matchup since the formation of the NE8.
Conner Fear, South Adams vs. Heritage
The Starfires’ defense was really good through the first two weeks of the season, then Bluffton came to town and racked up over 500 yards of offense and 35 points. For South Adams to return to form, Fear will have to be the one to lead the charge. He leads the team with 42 tackles, three for loss, two pass breakups and three fumble recoveries. Heritage can move the ball, and South Adams doesn’t want to get into another shootout.
Brecken Maran, Fairfield vs. Southport
An interesting one in Benton tonight as the Falcons will take on a Class 6A program for the first time in program history. The Cardinals are not the strongest 6A program by any means. They’ve lost their 15 games, went 0-10 in 2021 and have been outscored by 31 points per game this season. Still, this should be a good test for Fairfield before it starts NECC Big Division play next week. Maran leads the Falcons with 315 rushing yards and two touchdowns with an average of 6.2 yards per carry. The sophomore should thrive tonight against a defense that allows over 43 points per game.