With the sectional draw taking place Sunday, a lot of the attention is going to turn to the postseason.
But Blitz is here to make sure that no one loses sight of Week 8, which gave us some significant talking points, whether it be conference titles on the line, electric performances and more.
Let’s get to it.
• Kudos to Bishop Dwenger for their senior night acknowledgment of Clayten Stuart. Stuart, for those who don’t know, was a class of 2024 player who passed away during his freshman season.
The program included Stuart and his family in traditional senior night activities, the team wore ‘CS’ stickers on their helmets, had a red out with their student section (red being Stuart’s favorite color) and his #34 jersey accompanied the team captains pregame.
Annually, Outside the Huddle gives out a Clayten Stuart Award for a player we think best exemplifies discipline, work ethic and spirit. So you know we appreciate the nod to Stuart and his legacy.
• It was far from an amicable ending to Snider‘s 33-13 victory over Bishop Dwenger on Friday.
The game ended with the final few minutes being kneeled out after issues between the teams down the stretch.
Things boiled over late in the game when Bishop Dwenger quarterback Ethan Springer was hit late after giving himself up on a run play. No penalty was called. On the next play, junior Russell Knipscheer was hit hard over the middle and fumbled, which was recovered by Snider.
As Knipscheer was tended to with an injury, officials threw multiple flags on the Dwenger bench as coaches entered the field of play and continued in on the officials for the no calls, including one assistant who was ejected from the game.
More flags flew a few plays later with players shoving and Snider coach Kurt Tippmann on the field to get his players away from the situation.
Athletic directors of both schools were then brought out to talk the situation over with the head official. It was then decided to kneel out the clock and the teams would not take part in traditional post-game handshakes.
• Brett Fuchs had himself quite a night on Friday.
In fact, it only took one half.
Homestead was up comfortably after the first two quarters against Concordia Lutheran, but it was the senior Fuchs that was the story. He set a school record for rushing yards by halftime and finished with 355 yards rushing and six touchdowns (another record) in the 42-0 victory.
Fuchs accounted for all six scores on the night, rushing in from 2, 5, 6, 10, 46 and 82 yards.
Fuchs out-gained Concordia by himself 355-64 in total yards. He has now accounted for 1,225 yards and 14 touchdowns on the ground this season.
• Between injuries and a game suspension, it has been a tough senior season for Brauntae Johnson.
The North Side senior and Notre Dame verbal commit exited Friday’s game with Wayne early on with an apparent shoulder injury and did not return.
The injury left the Legends without their signalcaller, as Johnson as served that role when in the game since early in the season. Dylan Schible and Jamari Pearson saw action behind center following Johnson’s injury.
Pearson was effective in throwing for 152 yards and a score while also rushing for another TD, but North SIde’s offense stalled when Pearson was ejected for multiple unsportsmanlike penalties.
• Speaking of Wayne, no one in Sectional 19 wanted to draw the Generals to begin postseason play.
While the Generals have made their mark on being a dynamic offense, it was their run defense that proved to be the difference against North Side in an 18-12 win on Friday.
Wayne held the Legends to minus-16 yards rushing on 22 attempts for the game. While they did surrender 260 yards through the air, with teams like Bishop Dwenger and East Noble as run-dominated squads in the sectional field, it bodes well for the Generals if they can play the defense tough.
The lack of ability to slow down the rushing attack proved to be Wayne’s undoing multiple times last season, including last year’s 41-36 sectional loss to Columbia City in which the Generals led by as many as 14 points.
• Bishop Luers locked up at least a share of its second SAC crown in three years with a blanking of South Side.
While some are salty that the Knights are in the position they are in without having to face Carroll or Snider, consider this: Bishop Luers is the smallest school in the conference by enrollment. It has beaten six league foes that are all bigger than them, including a 6A (Northrop), a 5A (North SIde) and three 4As (Bishop Dwenger, Wayne and South Side).
You can’t have it both ways. You can’t ask for non-conference games then complain when head-to-head matchups needed to decide the conference title don’t happen.
• It’s time we recognize Caiden and Caden.
DeKalb has scored 38 touchdowns this season. Twenty-four of those have been by either Caiden Hinkle or Caden Pettis.
The junior Hinkle has rushed for 974 yards and 12 touchdowns – 224 yards and three TDs of which came in Friday’s win over Bellmont.
Meanwhile, senior Caden Pettis has a team-high 12 receiving touchdowns on the year.
DeKalb has seemed like that “forgetten” team in the NE8, but there’s no doubt it can put up points, averaging 34 points per game to go with a 5-3 record.
• It’s time we start talking about the Leo defense, which may be the team’s key to winning its first sectional in a dozen years.
The unit was once again relentless on Friday, piling up five sacks and four forced turnovers in a 51-7 rout of Columbia City. The Lions have allowed just two touchdowns over four weeks since the one-point OT loss to New Haven in Week 4.
Brock Schott had a trio of sacks and a forced fumble, while Jared Jasper and Dearious Carter also added sacks in the win over the Eagles. Landin Hoeppner had an INT.
Lots of folks will talk about the weaponry the Lions have offensively, but this team will go as far as its defense takes them, which could be pretty far considering how the unit is playing.
• It was good to see Drew Graft back in the lineup for Norwell on Friday.
The junior has battled injury this year but threw for 262 yards and a trio of touchdowns as Norwell got win No. 2 on the season on Friday.
After so much success in recent years, it has been a tough season in Ossian with injuries that struck even before the season began.
Good to see Graft make it back and making a difference.
• A lot of people will see the 24-0 score and gloss over anything Bluffton did on Friday against Adams Central, but don’t do it.
The Flying Jets did what they do, particularly defensively in picking off three passes in the dub, but don’t discount the Bluffton defense.
The Tigers held AC close to 20 points under its season scoring average, under 170 yards of total offense and only allowed 3.7 yards per rush. The game was just 7-0 at halftime.
Now, it wasn’t good enough to get the win because of AC’s dominance on the defensive side, but Bluffton needs to take the effort it gave as a positive into Week 9 and beyond.
No defense has been able to slow down the Flying Jets like Bluffton did. That’s something to build upon.
• Many think a dangerous passing attack when South Adams is mentioned, but this year it has been more about the run game.
Coming out of Week 8 in which it nearly eclipsed 300 yards on the ground led by Colton Bollenbacher‘s 221-yard, four-touchdown effort, the Starfires have rushed for 1,077 yards on the season. They have thrown for 1,010 yards.
That means for the first time at least since Coach Grant Moser went spread offense in 2016, South Adams is on pace to run for more yards than it passes for this campaign.
• Kudos to Eastside for its fifth-straight NECC Small School Division championship with Friday’s win over Central Noble.
Make no mistake, despite the program’s recent success there wasn’t a huge list of coaching candidates looking to take over in Butler. Coach Alyx Brandewie did it after three years at Manchester and has done a good job with the Blazers, who have now won five-straight games and are 6-2 heading into a Week 9 game against Angola.
Uriah Buchanan‘s 255-yard, three touchdown effort against Bishop Dwenger now has him at 1,273 yards and 14 TDs on the season…East Noble has beaten New Haven in seven of the last eight meetings…Heritage‘s Preston Moore blocked two punts in the rout of Southern Wells…Fremont‘s last three wins in the NECC have come against Prairie Heights.