This Friday marks the start of Friday Night lights for the 2021 season and hopefully (this time) more fans and less headaches. 

One week 1 game comes in Waterloo where the Barons entertain the Hornets. In week 1 of last season, Angola dominated the Barons 55-18 at the Hornets Nest. Then the COVID shutdown happened where both teams were forced to cancel their next two games. 

Angola went on to have a respectable 5-3 record and 2nd place in the Big School Division, but their season would end in a 7-0 sectional loss at DeKalb. The Barons, while posting a 2-6 record, played their best football in October where they avenged their Week 1 loss and nearly pulled off a huge upset in the 14-7 loss to East Noble. 

Now both teams look to improve from last season. Angola head coach Andy Thomas wants to see some more intensity and physicality from his team, while the Barons under Seth Wilcox want to build off of that playoff run. 

While Angola has a brand new starting QB in junior Tyler Call, they bring back many familiar names such as Finley Hasselman and Lincoln Schreiber in the backfield, Jake Land in the secondary/wide receiver, Jack Archbold at linebacker, Kyle Brandt at linebacker, Andre Tagliaferri at snap back, Zach Buell at free safety, Lane King at Tight end, Brandon Villafuerte, and Dylan Oberlin at tackle. 

This is a team that has plenty of playmakers on defense, but they have enough talent on offense to be able to run the football, and have Call make plays in the passing game. 

The Barons come in with a lot more youth after losing 22 seniors to graduation. But this youth has lots of talent with Tegan Irk at QB (who was a huge part of their late season run), along with Donnie Wiley ‘Coyote’, Logan Schultz-Montoya (LSM), Isaiah Hamblin, and Cy Young at wide receiver. Derek Overbay is a very talented tight end that also notably plays basketball, and Mitch Snyder will lead the backfield for DeKalb. 

The Hornets should be able to contend in their conference and the Big School Division this fall. However, the Barons, while they’ll be more competitive, might have some trouble competing against the talented and pass heavy NE8. 

For Week 1, expect both teams to be extremely pumped to play some football, but they might have to deal with some nerves early on. The boisterous crowd will bring a great atmosphere to Waterloo. 

As far as the X’s and O’s are concerned, it’s going to come down to which team can make the most adjustments, run an efficient offense, and can they eliminate turnovers. The Barons’ week 1 game last season saw them committing 5 turnovers in that game. That can’t happen again. 

For the Barons, inexperience up front will be a huge question mark early on, especially on defense where they’ll have to contain Finley Hasselman, Lincoln Schreiber, and of course QB Tyler Call. On the offensive side of the ball, Irk will be pressured a lot by the likes of Archbold, Buell, Brandt, and Oberlin. He will need to stay composed on Friday night. 

For Angola, this team needs to be able to run the football effectively. That’s what got them most of their wins last season. The defense will make plays, especially in the secondary, but the offense must be able to extend drives and be aggressive. Finally, on defense, they need to play physical Angola football, and keep the young and talented Barons frustrated. 

No matter who wins this game, it’s a moment of celebration as football is back in the Hoosier state.  Hopefully, this time we will get to celebrate this great game together as one!