Before we get to the Outside the Huddle All-Area Team and our end-of-year awards next week, Blitz wanted to take some time and take a last glance at area conferences and hand out some league-specific hardware.
The final one we will look at is the Northeast Corner Conference.
PLAYER OF THE YEAR: CARSEN JACOBS, EASTSIDE
It is never easy replacing ‘the man,’ but Jacobs did just that in Butler.
Laban Davis was a dominant force behind center for Eastside, and Jacobs stepped into the vacancy with plenty of outsiders expecting to see the Blazers take a significant step back because of it.
All Eastside did this year was win the NECC Small School Division (again) and give Bishop Luers all it could handle in the sectional (again).
Jacobs accounted for 2,108 total yards on the season – 1,320 of those coming on the ground. He was directly responsible for 25 total touchdowns and also finished with 34 tackles and four interceptions on defense.
But most importantly, he led an offense that actually averaged MORE points per game this year (37.6) than it did with Davis in 2021 (35).
HONORABLE MENTION: Dax Holman, Eastside; Riley Buroff, Churubusco.
MOST VALUABLE PLAYER: ANDRE TAGLIAFERRI, ANGOLA
You can make a case that Tagliaferri was the best player on the field in the majority of Angola’s games this season, making him POY material. But Blitz is going to go MVP here.
Why? Well, it is tough to see the Hornets on top of the NECC Big Division without him.
The three-year starter finished with 619 yards rushing and eight scores to go with 384 receiving yards and five TDs through the air. Defensively, the senior amassed 64.5 tackles, two sacks, two INTs and a forced fumble.
The impact in which Tagliaferri made in all three facets of the game (he also had a kickoff return for a score) is impossible to ignore.
HONORABLE MENTION: Riley Buroff, Churubusco; Dax Holman, Eastside; Drew Yates, West Noble
BREAKOUT PLAYER: SETH PRUITT, WEST NOBLE
Equal parts power and finesse, Pruitt emerged as one of the area’s top running backs as a sophomore.
Pruitt showed his potential as a freshman seeing a fair amount of playing time on Friday nights, but this season saw him erupt for 1,209 yards and 16 touchdowns. Like his older brothers, Pruitt is a blue-collar player who likes to dish out punishment at every opportunity.
Pruitt will return in 2023 as one of the top talents in the NECC.
HONORABLE MENTION: Cullen Blake, Churubusco; Brayden Holbrook, Lakeland; Tavvin Kyle, Prairie Heights
COACH OF THE YEAR; ANDY THOMAS, ANGOLA
After a tough two-win campaign in 2021, everyone was wondering how Angola would bounce back this season. Coach Thomas and the Hornets were able to do just that in a six-win season that saw them capture the NECC Big Division championship.
It did not start off all roses with losses in two of the first three weeks, but a five-game winning streak in the middle of the season lifted Angola.
Coach Thomas loses some pieces to graduation but seems to have a good foundation in place for 2023.
HONORABLE MENTION: Todd Mason, Eastside; Monte Mawhorter, West Noble
GAME OF THE YEAR: West Noble 28, Eastside 27 OT – Week 3
There is nothing more exciting than an extra point to win a game…right?
When Erik Murillo connected on the PAT following a Drew Yates touchdown run on West Noble’s possession in overtime, it lifted the Chargers to a huge home victory.
Not only did West Noble move to 3-0 on the season with the dub, it ended Eastside’s streak of 22 straight wins over NECC foes.
The Chargers would fall hard at Angola one week later, but the statement had been made.
EARLY PICK FOR 2023 NECC DIVISION CHAMPIONS: WEST NOBLE AND EASTSIDE
While Eastside will have a new coach for 2023 with the resignation of Todd Mason, it is tough to buy in to anyone else than the Blazers in the Small Division considering they have captured it four straight years. Might Churubusco make a move?
Meanwhile, West Noble is set to bring back a ton of production back from a squad that won eight games. The leading passer, the three top running backs and two of the leading three wideouts are set to return. The defense will have some holes to fill, but on paper this is setting up to be the Chargers’ best team since 2019.
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