Bishop Luers’ Nick Thompson throws out a stiff arm during October 28’s Sectional game against Churubusco. (Photo by John Felts)

It is a week-plus of postseason awards here at Outside the Huddle.

All this week, we are naming our OTH Football All-Area Teams, split into small school (Class 1A to 3A) and big school (Classes 4A to 6A) categories. A tad late but, it is good to save the best for last, right?

We continue with the Small School Defense.

DL: Johnny Cruz, junior, Bluffton – A hulking presence at the nose on defense for the Tigers, the 270-pound Cruz was disruptive in his own right and commanded attention that freed up his unit mates. The junior amassed 47 tackles, 9.5 TFL, a sack and a fumble recovery this season while also seeing action on offense at tackle.

DL: Trevor Currie, junior, Adams Central – Another standout underclassman up front in the ACAC, Currie was one of the Flying Jets’ biggest disruptive forces coming off the edge getting into offensive backfields. He also was AC’s leading receiver with over 350 yards and 10 touchdowns.

DL: Grant Hayworth, senior, Concordia Lutheran – The rigors of the SAC are not easy to handle in the trenches, but Hayworth did so without being in the spotlight. The senior accumulated 61 tackles, 12 TFL and 7.5 sacks, proving to be one of the top players in the league on the edge.

DL: Kolin Jolas, senior, Bishop Luers – One of the more versatile players defensively in the SAC, Jolas was a hybrid in the sense he could seal the edge along the defensive front, roam around from the linebacker spot or even drop in coverage. By season’s end, Jolas led the Knights in tackles (104) and tackles for loss (15) in a standout senior campaign.

LB: Luke Graft, senior, Norwell – How good was Graft? He could have made this team either as a running back or a linebacker. Defensively, he was a stalwart with 65 tackles, 16.5 TFL, six sacks and a pair of interceptions. On offense, he was Norwell’s leading rusher with 904 yards and 14 scores. He also added 10 receptions and a score as a receiver.

Norwell’s Luke Graft (12) and Drew Ringger celebrate a big tackle in October 14’s game against Columbia City. (Photo by John Nagel)

LB: Rylan Whitacre, senior, Heritage – League foes are surely pleased to see Whitacre exhaust his prep eligibility after being a thorn in their side for multiple seasons with the Patriots. A holder of several program records, Whitacre finished 2022 with 100 tackles, 11 TFL and a sack.

LB: Mav Summersett, senior, South Adams – Another player who filled a variety of roles for this squad, Summersett led the Starfires in tackles (112), tackles for loss (17) and interceptions (two). The senior was capable of playing at the linebacker spot and in the secondary and shined on offense as well, rushing for 866 yards and 18 touchdowns while also hauling in two scores through the air.

LB: James Rusher, senior, Concordia Lutheran – Few players in the area hit harder or with more ferocity than Rusher, a mainstay for the Cadets defense over the past few years. In his final season, Rusher led Concordia in tackles with 83 and tackles for loss with 14.5.

DB: Cade Shelton, junior, Norwell – One of the best cornerbacks in the area, Shelton’s ability to be in the right place at the right time allowed him to pick off a team-high four passes in 2022 with eight passes defensed. He finished with 22 tackles while also leading Norwell in receiving yards (296) and receiving touchdowns (four).

DB: Carter Fleek, sophomore, Woodlan – A ball hawk with talent in bunches, Fleek was one of just two sophomores named to the All-ACAC First Team. A tackling machine who is very solid in coverage, Fleek showed out in 2022 and still has two years of eligibility remaining.

Heritage’s Rylan Whitacre (38) pursues the South Adams ball carrier during September 9’s game.

DB: Briar Munsey, senior, Eastside – An impact player on both sides of the football, Munsey accumulated 60 tackles, two TFL and three interceptions on the back end of the Blazers defense. He also rushed for 1,055 yards and eight scores in Eastside’s run-heavy attack.

DB: Nick Thompson, senior, Bishop Luers – Pick your poison with the Toledo signee. He had 79 tackles, five TFL and a pair of interceptions for the Knights on defense. He caught 55 passes for 1,029 yards and eight scores, all team highs. And for good measure, he averaged 26.8 yards per kick return.

AT-LARGE: Jon Colbert, senior, Norwell – The commander of the Norwell defense in a lot of ways, Colbert on the back end held a lot of the responsibility of making sure the dominant unit was where it needed to be pre-snap. The senior ended the season with 37 tackles and six passes defended while rushing for 371 yards and seven touchdowns on offense.

AT-LARGE: Jaden Daniels, senior, Prairie Heights – One of the best all-around players in the NECC, Daniels picked off three passes to go with 33 tackles this past season. Offensively, the senior rushed for 306 yards and had 580 receiving yards to go with eight total touchdowns.

P: Luke Meyer, junior, Woodlan – Meyer put nearly a third of his punts inside the 20 for the Warriors while averaging over 33 yards per boot.

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