The final third of the regular season starts tonight. It’s rivalry week in the SAC and for a certain pair of “W” squads in the NLC. In rivalry games, big-time players step up.
Here are five players that should answer the call this week:
Julante Hinton, Northrop vs. Snider
Hinton has continued to show that he’s one of the area’s best defenders in the area this season. The junior Bruin has amassed 43 total tackles, including four for loss and 25 solo tackles, which is almost double anyone else on the Northrop. Along with his two fumble recoveries, he’s also carried the ball 25 times for 104 yards and three touchdowns. The Panthers have scored more than 40 points in their last four games, so slowing them down is a difficult task. Hinton is up for the challenge.
Anthony Cruz, Bluffton vs. Heritage
Cruz had a light work week against Southern Wells in Week 6, compared to his previous four weeks, with just nine carries for 90 yards and two touchdowns. For the year, he has 103 carries for 679 yards and five scores. Both teams just have one loss in ACAC play, and Bluffton still has to play conference leader Adams 0Central. The Tigers are 5-0 against Heritage under head coach Brett Kunkel. A healthy dose of Cruz will give Bluffton a very good chance of making it 6-0.
Noah Wagner, Huntington North vs. Leo
Luke Teusch gets handed the ball more often than Wagner, but the senior has done just a little more when his number has been called. Wagner averages over 10 yards per carry. He’s also a receiving threat, picking up a 60 yard touchdown catch in a losing effort to DeKalb last Friday. Wagner will need to show off his versatility against the Lions as the Vikings continue to try and punch up against the powers of the Northeast 8.
Jaden Daniels, Prairie Heights vs. Bremen
Daniels has become quite the pass catcher for the Panthers. So much so that he broke the school record for career receptions last week. His career total is up to 56, one more than Lance Brodock, who set the record of 55 back in 2003. Daniels was more of a runner last season with 54 carries for 583 yards and nine scores. He caught 31 passes for 223 yards and three touchdowns. This year, he has 25 catches for 395 yards and reached the end zone twice. Daniels will need to continue to put up solid numbers for Heights to keep up with the Lions tonight.
German Flores-Ortega, Warsaw vs. Wawasee
The SAC isn’t the only conference where rivals face off this week. Warsaw and Wawasee will battle it out for the “W” Trophy. The Tigers lead the rivalry 24-12 and have won the last seven matchups. Flore-Ortega is the fullback in Warsaw’s triple-option attack and is coming off back-to-back 100-yard performances. The Tigers need Flores-Ortega to continue to be productive as they attempt to get back to their winning ways.