FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Garrett is back in the NECC after leaving the conference for the ACAC in 2005. Churubusco graduated most of the program’s offensive backfield, while Lakeland is looking to replace a number of graduated players as well. Former DeKalb coach Jim Hummer takes over at Fremont while Andy Thomas takes the reigns at Angola. Prairie Heights is looking to build off a solid 2013, while Central Noble, West Noble, and Eastside are looking to bounce back. Fairfield will return only three starters from last year’s 9-2 campaign.
ANGOLA (4A) HC: Andy Thomas (1st) 6-5 IN 2013
Thomas takes over for Josh Shoeff; Must replace 18 seniors, including all-state DB Austin Bauer; Offensive averaged just 13 points/game last season; Junior QBs Jake Roddy & Greg Miller will battle for starting job; defensive backfield will be strength of the defense.
CENTRAL NOBLE (2A) HC: Jeremy Yates (2nd) 1-9 IN 2013
Cougars looking to break streak of six consecutive losing seasons; Return eight starters on offense, including QB Brock Noe (485 Yds. Passing); Nine starters return on defense including All-NECC DT Seven Stonebreaker (4.5 sacks).
CHURUBUSCO (2A) HC: Paul Sade (2nd) 8-3 IN 2013
Eagles have had nine consecutive winning seasons; Must replace RBs Kane Johnson & Cody Conwell; Eight starters return (4 offense, 4 defense); QBs Drew Buffenbarger & Sam Richards competing for starting job.
EASTSIDE (2A) HC: Mike Eschbach (8th) 4-6 IN 2013
Blazers return eight starters on offense, nine on defense; RB/QB/DB PJ Dean (1,338 Yds. Rushing, 17 TD) & QB Conner Dove (953 Yds. Passing) return; LBs Nicholson, Brown & Coak return; Still looking for program’s first sectional title.
FAIRFIELD (3A) HC: Bob Miller (13th) 9-2 IN 2013
Falcons return just one starter on offense; LB David Sceniak (72 tackles) & DBs Mitch DeWitt (113 tackles, 3 INT) & Nolan Miller (39 tackles, 2 INT) will lead defense as team’s only returning starters on D.
FREMONT (1A) HC: Jim Hummer (1st) 2-8 IN 2013
Former DeKalb coach Jim Hummer takes over Eagles program; O-line returns 4 starters; QB Kayleb Hayes & RB Nate Beatty graduated; 8 starters return on defense; DL Cole Applegate will anchor defense.
GARRETT (3A) HC: Chris DePew (3rd) 4-6 IN 2013
Railroaders re-join NECC after leaving for ACAC in 2005; Coming off first losing season since 2006; RB Bryit Sumner (843 Yds., 9 TDs) returns; QB/DB Noah Follett graduated; Starting offensive line has experience with 3 seniors & 2 juniors; LB Bo Davis (103 tackles) returns.
LAKELAND (3A) HC: Keith Thompson (9th) 7-3 IN 2013
Lakers still seeking program’s first sectional title; Will need to replace 20 seniors off last year’s team including QB William Kelly; Just two starters return on offense & no starters return on defense.
PRAIRIE HEIGHTS (2A) HC: TBA 5-6 IN 2013
Panthers racked up most wins since 2007 but haven’t had a winning record in last 24 seasons; 15 two-way players graduated including QB/DB Kyler West (970 Yds. Passing) & RB/LB Bobby Blum; WR/DB Kade Gerbers (team-best 82 tackles) returns along with RB David Rodriguez (253 Yds.).
WEST NOBLE (3A) HC: Monte Mawhorter (16th) 3-7 IN 2013
Chargers return RB Levi Nelson (813 Yds.); QB Landon Stover graduated; Offensive line has size & experience; All three starting linebackers return on defense; Program has never won a sectional title.