There’s only a couple of weeks left in the regular season and plenty of intriguing matchups left before sectionals begin. A couple of conference titles are on the line tonight, including one team that can play spoiler and another that can win a share for the third straight season.
Here’s a look at this week’s schedule of area contests.
New Haven at East Noble
Radio: WAWK (95.5 FM, Kendallville, 94.3 FM, Auburn).
Where: East Noble High School, Kendallville.
When: 7 p.m.
Records: Class 4A No. 3 East Noble 7-0, 5-0 Northeast 8; New Haven 3-4, 3-2 NE8.
Last meeting: The Knights blitzed the Bulldogs 46-26 on Oct. 5, 2018.
Last week: East Noble beat Columbia City 28-7 while New Haven defeated Bellmont 49-7.
Players to watch: East Noble — Sr. QB-DB Bailey Parker, Jr. RB Justin Marcellus, Jr. RB-LB Jacob VanGorder, Sr. WR-DB Hayden Jones, Sr. WR-DB Gage Ernsberger, Jr. LB Cole Schupbach, Sr. DL Leyth Al-Mohammedawi, So. WR-DB Rowan Zolman. New Haven — Jr. RB-LB D’Andre Wright, Sr. WR Nijae Field-Lewis, Sr. RB-DB Jamarr Hutchins, So. QB Jakar Williams, Sr. LB Trevor Reed.
Outlook: The Knights have a chance to claim a share of the Northeast 8 Conference title with a win on Friday night. The Bulldogs got off to an 0-4 start to the season, but have won three straight coming into tonight’s game.
New Haven has a couple of playmakers, including its quarterback Williams, who has the third most yards of total offense (1,296) in the conference. He has eight touchdowns through the air, but also has eight interceptions. The Knights have proven to be a team that can force turnovers with 13 so far this season. They have will make the young quarterback feel uncomfortable and force him into those mistakes and not let him get loose for big chunks of yardage.
The Bulldogs do have the second-best pass defense in the NE8 but have the third worst on the ground, in terms of yards per game. The Knights have shown they can be successful in both areas and have been the model of consistency for scoring this season at 33.9 points per game. They appear to have too many playmakers for the Bulldogs to hold down.
West Noble at Churubusco
Where: Churubusco High School, Churubusco.
When: 7 p.m.
Records: Class 3A No. 9 West Noble 7-0; Class 1A No. 8 Churubusco 6-1.
Last meeting: The Chargers squeaked out a 17-14 win at on Oct. 5, 2018.
Last week: West Noble blew past Lakeland 54-12 while Churubusco beat Central Noble in a 38-7 rout.
Players to watch: West Noble — Sr. RB-LB Brandon Pruitt, Sr. QB Kyle Mawhorter, Sr. RB-LB Raven Slone, Sr. RB-DB Josh Gross, Jr. OL-DL Jeramyah James, Sr. OL-DL Taylor Guzman. Churubusco — Sr. RB-LB Jake Fulk, Sr., RB-CB Gage Kelly, Sr., DT-OG Reese Wicker, So. LB Seth Abel.
Outlook: With the NECC Big School Division all wrapped up, the Chargers turn their attention to the postseason, but not before taking on a very good Churubusco team. The Eagles need a loss by Eastside tonight to share the NECC Small School Division championship. More on that in a second.
Both teams feature really good running backs. Pruitt for West Noble and Fulk for Churubusco. It’s easy to say there will be a lot of carries tonight between the both of them. Whichever defense can come up with the best game plan to slow down either back will come out on top.
Statistically, West Noble has the better defense, allowing 12 points per game compared to 19.6 points per game by Churubusco.
Central Noble at Eastside
Where: Eastside High School, Butler.
When: 7 p.m.
Records: Central Noble 2-5, 1-2 NECC Small School division; Eastside 5-2, 3-0 NECC Small.
Last meeting: The Blazers edged the Cougars 18-14 on Oct. 5, 2018.
Last week: Central Noble lost 38-7 to Churubusco while Eastside downed Fremont 48-12.
Players to watch: Central Noble — Sr. RB Kyle Bollinger, Jr. QB-DB Sawyer Yoder, So. RB Will Hoover, Jr. RB-LB Noah Christopher, Jr. WB-DB Trey Hearld, Sr. TE-LB Austin McCullough. Eastside — So. QB Laban Davis, Jr. RB Matt Firestine, Fr. RB Dax Holman, Jr. WR-S Lane Burns, Jr. LB Lane Cleckner, Jr. DL Phoenix Smith.
Outlook: The Cougars have a chance to play spoiler to the Blazers winning the outright NECC Small School division title with a win tonight. After Central Noble had its best offensive output in a win at Lakeland, it returned to its old ways of scuffling on the offensive side of the ball with only seven points last week against Churubusco. The Blazers have dominated against other conference opponents this season, allowing just nine points per game to them.
Eastside has a lot of young talent that has only gotten better as the season has progressed. Davis is a true dual-threat quarterback with 1,438 total yards and 16 touchdowns this season. The Cougars have had trouble stopping the run against some of the better runners in the area this season and might do so with Davis and running backs Firestine and Holman.
Fremont at Prairie Heights
Radio: WLKI (100.3 FM, Angola)
Video: Fremont Athletics — Live on Facebook on tape delay Saturday at 9 a.m.
Where: Hubert Cline Field, Brushy Prairie
When: 7 p.m.
Records: Fremont 3-4, 1-2 NECC Small; Prairie Heights 1-6, 0-3 NECC Small.
Last meeting: Fremont won 35-34 at home on Oct. 5, 2018.
Last week: Fremont lost 48-12 at home against Eastside on Saturday while Prairie Heights lost at Angola 39-7.
Players to watch: Fremont — Jr. QB-WR Kameron Colclasure, Sr. RB-LB Karson Meeks, Jr. WR-LB Kaleb Gannon, So. RB-DB Gabel Pentecost, Jr. DB-RS Carson Flynn. Prairie Heights — Sr. QB-DB Ethan Hoover, So. TE-LB Camden Hall, So. WR-RB Sam Levitz, Jr. DB-WR Zach Wiseman.
Outlook: Both the Eagles and the Panthers are dealing with difficult schedules in the second half of the regular season, and some attrition is setting in. Each team has played NECC Small School division leader Eastside and Class 1A state-ranked Churubusco within the last three weeks. Heights and Fremont both welcome the opportunity to be in a competitive situation.
A whole lot revolves around their quarterbacks, Colclasure for Fremont and Hoover for Prairie Heights. The challenge for both defenses is to keep them contained in the pocket. They both make much of their big plays when they get outside of the pocket.
The Panthers have really scuffled offensively, gaining 332 yards of total offense over the last three weeks against Angola, Eastside and Churubusco.
A new weapon has emerged for the Fremont Eagles in Flynn, who has returned kickoffs for touchdowns in each of the last two games against the Blazers and Churubusco.
Fairfield at Lakeland
Radio: WTHD (105.5 FM, LaGrange)
Where: Laker Field, LaGrange
When: 7 p.m.
Records: Fairfield 4-3, 1-2 NECC Big; Lakeland 1-6, 0-3 NECC Big.
Last meeting: Lakeland won 62-6 at Fairfield on Oct. 5, 2018.
Last week: Fairfield won 38-22 at Garrett while Lakeland lost 54-12 at West Noble.
Players to Watch: Fairfield — Jr. QB-DB Cory Lantz, Sr. WR-DB-K Nolin Sharick, Sr. DL-OL Peyton Hendrix, Sr. OL-DL Bryce Willard, Sr. OL-DL Noah Osborne, Jr., RB-DB Quinn Kitson. Lakeland — Sr. RB-LB Camryn Holbrook, Jr. QB-DB Colton Isaacs, Sr. DT-OT Jayce Riegling, Jr. DT-OL Miguel Delapaz, Jr. FB-LB Bryce Alleshouse, Sr. LB Nathan Grossman.
Outlook: The Lakers are having a hard time stopping the opposition while being contained offensively. That’s a bad combination, and the Falcons have grown up enough to be capable of having that scenario play out.
Fairfield jumped out to a 22-0 lead early in the second quarter at Garrett and had some big takeaways to survive the Railroader rally and hang on to win. Isaacs has thrown five interceptions in the last three games.
The Falcons are competing at the line of scrimmage. To do that after they were hardly competitive in an 0-9 season last year is an incredible improvement.
Lakeland has to match Fairfield’s physicality on both sides of the ball. That can create turnovers and make the Lakers more than the one-man show they have been recently. Lakeland has not had much beyond Grossman’s 127 rushing yards against West Noble last week and Holbrook’s 134 rushing yards against Central Noble on Sept. 28.
Second-year Fairfield coach Matt Thacker will return to LaGrange. He started his football coaching career at Lakeland, then became the offensive coordinator at Warsaw before heading to Benton last year.