In a week of highly anticipated excitement for the fans in Green and Yellow, more and more people are starting to realize ‘Whoa, Eastside is no joke!” The Blazers win their first ever football regional championship with a 21-14 home win over Grant County power, Eastbrook. This avenged their 33-point loss to them back in 2019.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you was expecting a letdown after a great win over Bishop Luers, then you haven’t been watching this football team. I said it before and I’ll say it again. The Blazers are a Great football team.
It also helps that Laban Davis is good at this quarterback thing. He would run for 213 yards and scored all three of their touchdowns in this game (and five in the last two games alone) Eastside sent a statement on their first drive.
A six-minute opening drive with a 18-yard completion to Gavin Wallace that later led to a Davis touchdown run. On Eastbrook’s first drive, Eastside forced them to turn it over on downs, and that helped Eastside to control the clock throughout the night.
Davis made another great play running it to the house on a 30-yard gain to make it 13-0 with 1:03 left in the half (PAT missed).
However the third quarter would lead to a Eastbrook spark following a partially blocked punt and their hurry-up run offense that created some issues at times in this game. Jeff Engle found Raef Biddle for 31 yards out before Engle took it to the end zone by himself to make it 13-7 with 5:47 left in that quarter.
However, the Blazers found their insurance when Davis ran it from 51 yards out to make it 21-7 on a 2-point conversion with 4:36 left in regulation. While Eastbrook’s Engle cut it back to 7 with under a minute to play, Eastside like last week recovered a onside kick, dominated the line of scrimmage, and won another championship 21-14 over Eastbrook. Now let’s look by the numbers.
In 2019, Eastside had the ball for 25 min, threw the ball for 124 yards, but ran for 47 yards and scored 9 points. In this game, Eastside threw for only 30 yards on 6 passes, but they also ran for over 300 yards and used 28 min of clock.
For Eastbrook, the Panthers were able to run for 339 yards and scored 42 points. In this game, however, didn’t come anywhere close to that number from 2019 despite throwing for 150 yards. This here shows the growth Eastside has had from 2019. Defensively and offensively, they’re better now than they were 2 years ago. And right here makes the Blazers an intriguing opponent for Northwest Indiana power Andrean out of Merrillville.
Andrean is going to be a challenge for Eastside as they have a near 2,500 passing yard quarterback in sophomore Scott Ballentine and Mr. Everything in Notre Dame commit Drayk Bowen. But that’s for next week. For now, Eastside will be enjoying this win if they haven’t already.
Other regional recaps
The Jets repeat their regular season performance by shutting out the reigning 1A state finalists, South Adams, 41-0. Blake Heyerly ran for 235 yards on 26 carries as the Jets ran for 362 total yards.
They get North Judson next week in semistate, and I honestly wouldn’t be shocked if we see the Jets again this time in Lucas Oil Stadium. They just looked locked in to make a run back to Indy.
And how about them Northridge Raiders who held run-happy Mississinewa to less than 100 total yards of offense in a 25-7 win. The last time Northridge played in semistate, they lost 28-10 to New Prairie. Guess who they get to play next week? These same New Prairie Cougars! Prior to 2014, they never won a postseason championship. As of now, they’ve never clinched a spot in the state finals. We normally hear Northridge as a basketball factory, but these Raiders on the football field are a special kind. Could they finally do it?? It’s final Four football! You just never know.
Unfortunately, regional week saw the end of great seasons for Bishop Dwenger, Carroll, Norwell, and South Adams. After starting their seasons slow, Dwenger and South Adams played their best football at the right time but ran into strong competition in regionals.
Norwell might have taken advantage of a weaker sectional, but they went 11-2 for a reason. They showed tremendous strides! Yet their season ended in a loss to a very good Brebeuf Jesuit team. I have to think Norwell’s future is bright with guys like Lleyton Bailey, Lucas Graft, and Brody Bolyn coming back next year.
For Carroll, they were unable to capture their first ever regional as the Westfield Shamrocks came away with a 35-14 win, despite Jeff Becker becoming Carroll’s new leader in career rushing yards.
Next week, my eyes are heavily on small-school powers, Adams Central and Eastside. These same two teams faced each other back in Week 2 of the regular season. Eastside won that game 21-19. The Jets (12-1) haven’t lost since that night and the (13-0) Blazers obviously haven’t lost in over a year as they set a new single-season record in wins.