BLITZ: With the SAC in hand, just how far can this Carroll team go?

Carroll’s Braden Steely intercepts a pass while being pulled down by a Bishop Dwenger player during a September 16 game. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

Folks, the fight for the Victory Bell is over.

Thank you everyone for playing.

With a 31-0 drubbing of Bishop Dwenger on Friday, coupled with some other finals around Fort Wayne, Carroll now holds a multi-game lead on every other team in the conference.

Even with four weeks to go, Blitz just doesn’t see how anyone challenges the Chargers for league supremacy, even with rival Homestead on tap in two weeks.

Carroll ruled in every facet on Friday in handing Bishop Dwenger its most lopsided defeat since 2018. The Chargers outgained their foes by over 200 yards for the game. They finished with three sacks and forced seven punts.

Meanwhile, the offense continued to hum along as Jimmy Sullivan threw for over 200 yards, Braden Steely rushed for a pair of scores and Jayden Hill went for 80 yards and six receptions.

But the unit that has been most impressive to Blitz so far this season has been the defense.

Carroll’s Dylan Bennett and a teammate take down a Bishop Dwenger player during a September 16 game. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

There are a lot of similarities between the 2022 Carroll defense and the 2018 Bishop Dwenger defense.

That Saints unit was loaded. Hayden Ellinger and T.J. McGarry were terrors at outside linebacker, much like junior Justin Anderson is for Carroll. In the middle Dwenger had Jordan Watercutter, Carroll has Dylan Bennett.

Up front, Joe Tippmann and Vinny Fiacable, two future D1 offensive linemen, bottled up the interior and freed up others to make plays while making a fair amount themselves. Carroll has Ashton Pesetski who can line up at nose or at d-end along with backfield menace Royce Jones.

And in the secondary? Size and speed matters. Bishop Dwenger had guys like Grady Eifert, Charlie Howe, Sam Obergfell and Brenden Lytle. Carroll has arguably the best defensive player in the SAC (not a typo) in Braden Steely, with seniors Jorge Valdes and Michael Dierckman standout performers in their own right.

Points allowed only tells part of the story. That 2018 unit, which fueled Bishop Dwenger’s run to a state championship, gave up 11 points per game. Impressive, but by no means record-setting. But it was HOW that Saints defense operated that was so deadly. It made opponents put every effort into moving the ball downfield. When you scored on Dwenger in 2018, you EARNED it. There were no gimmies, no easy drives.

That is echoed in how this Carroll unit plays. Under Defensive Coordinator Joe Rudolph’s tutelage, the Chargers defense is punishing, fast and physical. It’s allowing 8.8 points a game, but even that has been obtained by the opponent using every ounce of its effort.

As mentioned, that Saints team ended up winning a Class 4A state crown in exciting fashion, a four-overtime thrilled over Evansville Central.

So, what kind of damage can the Chargers do in the postseason?

Carroll’s Michael Dierckman picks off a pass in the end zone just before the halftime break during a September 16 game against Bishop Dwenger. Dierckman intercepted three passes in the game. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

Well, let’s be real to start. Class 6A is an absolute bear (nice pun, right?). No area team has advanced past the regional round since the formation of the class nearly a decade ago.

Carroll will need to deal with Penn, Warsaw and Elkhart in sectional play. Penn just beat Elkhart on Friday by a single point. Warsaw has looked very good but was pushed around by NorthWood in Week 5. If you can stop the Tigers’ running game, you beat the Tigers. That simple.

And what could be waiting in regional? Perhaps an undefeated Crown Point squad. Or a Lafayette Jeff team whose only loss is to Cathedral.

Semi-state? Hello Carmel, Westfield or Hamilton Southeastern (which just beat Westfield on Friday).

It’s daunting. It’s an exponentially more difficult road than what Bishop Dwenger had to manage in 2018.

But with this defense? How it plays. How it carries itself. How it PUNISHES every team it plays.

Maybe, just maybe, Fort Wayne can break through in Class 6A for the first time and make some serious noise.

These opinions represent those of Blitz and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Blitz on Twitter at Blitz_OTH

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