Friday begins a new year of high school football, and there’s plenty of talk across the area. The Battle for the Bell between Central Noble and West Noble. Snider and North Side is a very good matchup in the SAC. But there’s one matchup that gets overlooked in the area, and that’s the matchup between DeKalb and Angola. These two had pretty rough 2021 seasons where both teams were a combined 4-17. But both teams are very popular picks to turn things around this fall. In each of the last two seasons, DeKalb has successfully won a sectional game despite being seen as the underdogs in each matchup. 

The Barons return a ton of talent, especially on offense. That means QB Tegan Irk, running back Caiden Hinkle, and tight end Derek OverBay will be crucial players to getting the offense rolling for the Barons. Coach Wilcox knows they’re starting to build a reputation to be a tough team to play against in the postseason. Now it’s a matter of getting off to a strong start. 

“Our big focus this offseason was getting in the weight room,” said Wilcox. “As a young team last year, we found ourselves weaker than a lot of our opponents. The NE8 was super senior-heavy last year with a lot of really good players going to a lot of different D1 schools. So, we knew, in order to compete this year, we had to get stronger, and I challenged our big guys in the weight room ‘Hey, you guys got to be the strongest. This has to be the strongest room for us to compete in the NE8.’”

Some of that is also true with Angola as talent is something they also return with QB’s Tyler Call and Zach Steury, running back Andre Tagliaferri, Jake Land, and Jack Archbold. Despite losing Finley Hasselman to graduation, Angola still has what it takes to win some games. But Head Coach Andy Thomas stresses this team to get back to doing what they’re supposed to do each week: “play with an edge and cannot wait for things to happen”

Angola struggled to consistently live to that motto in 2021, but they hope this year brings more urgency and a more improved defensive game in 2022. They’ll need to do this because Irk is pretty good at football and the Barons have kids that can run. The wild cards here are stopping the run and turnovers. Coach Wilcox said that’s something he’s been wanting his team to improve upon is limiting the running game, and same can be said for Thomas’ squad. 

DeKalb is 12-8 in the last 25 years. Angola will be playing on their home turf field for the first time ever.