In wrapping up the 2018 high school football season with year-end awards, I have two regrets:
1. The season’s over.
2. I had to leave some tremendous players off the list.
The Summit Athletic Conference was loaded with talent this season and at least three-state championship caliber teams (4A champ Bishop Dwenger, 4A sectional runner-up Wayne and 3A regional champion Bishop Luers). I could make about three of these lists with different winners and they’d all seem legitimate.
Here are my picks for the best of the best:
TJ Tippmann, Bishop Dwenger
Singling out one player (or even one Tippmann) from the Class 4A state champion Saints seems like an exercise in futility, but TJ Tippmann’s ability to rise to the occasion and lead on both sides of the football – as a running back and a safety – earns my vote. He led the team in touchdowns, capped by the game winner in the fourth overtime of the state championship game. He rushed for 77 yards and two scores, had nine tackles and blocked a field goal in the state title game. He also epitomized the unselfishness Dwenger used to win the title.
MVP worthy: Joe Tippmann, Bishop Dwenger; Darius Alexander, Wayne; Alex Holliday-Robinson, North Side
PLAYER OF THE YEAR
Norm Knapke, Bishop Luers
Knapke was the gunslinger of all gunslingers from season’s start to end, throwing for 3,190 yards with 37 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. He had a deft touch on deep throws, dropping the ball into the hands of one of his talented receivers, including Jamic Johnson, Justin Gaston and Nate Moore. He threw for 551 yards in one game, which remains mind-boggling.
Player of the Year worthy: Kamari Anderson-Drew, Concordia; Craig Young, Wayne; A’Nyis Lockett, Snider
COACH OF THE YEAR
Jason Garrett, Bishop Dwenger
Garrett inherited a talented team in his first season as coach, but he also made the right moves along the way. His staff worked well together, and his team responded to his approach. Very few coaches could change quarterbacks in Week 9 and have it work out for the best for everyone involved. Garrett pushed the right buttons all season and Dwenger swept the championships (SAC, sectional, regional, semi-state and state). Garrett is the third coach in Indiana history to win a state title in his rookie season.
Coach of the Year worthy: Derrick Moore, Wayne; Kyle Lindsay, Bishop Luers; Kurt Tippmann, Snider
MOST DYNAMIC OFFENSIVE PLAYER
Jordan Presley, Bishop Luers
There was nothing Presley couldn’t do, as shown by his incredible statistics (1,184 yards rushing, 13 touchdowns; 665 yards receiving, nine touchdowns; three scores on kick/punt returns). Anytime Presley touched the ball, he was capable of scoring. His ability to break a big play via run, pass or return set him apart on a team filled with playmakers.
Most Dynamic Offensive Player worthy: Gaven Vogt, Carroll; Nate Moore, Bishop Luers; Brandan Young, Wayne
MOST DYNAMIC DEFENSIVE PLAYER
Darius Alexander, Wayne
As the season wore on Alexander was the player who most disrupted opposing offenses. Teams sometimes designed their offenses to run plays away from him. He finished with 87 total tackles (45 solo, 42 assists) with 21 tackles for losses and 10 sacks. As a defensive end, Alexander forced some of the SAC’s best quarterbacks to alter their style, whether throwing on the run or hurrying throws trying to elude Alexander’s pursuit.
Most Dynamic Defensive Player worthy: Tristan Pernell, Wayne; Cam Rogers, Homestead, Hayden Ellinger, Bishop Dwenger
MOST IMPROVED PLAYER
Tavareon Scott, Snider
A year ago, Scott couldn’t break into the Panthers’ regular rotation. He had only seven tackles in 2017. This season, he helped set the tone on a Snider defense that improved dramatically over the course of the season. He finished with a team-high 87 tackles (team-high 56 solo), 13 tackles-for-losses and six sacks. He also had a forced fumble and two fumble recoveries.
Most Improved Player worthy: Jon Barnes, Snider; Camdyn Childers, Carroll; Tahj Alford, South Side
MOST CONSISTENT PLAYER
TJ McGarry, Bishop Dwenger
McGarry, the Class 4A mental attitude award winner, compiled an incredible season. He led the Saints’ vaunted defense in tackles (70 solo, 91 total) and tackles for losses (13) and added nine sacks and four forced fumbles. He had eight or more tackles in four of Dwenger’s six postseason games.
Most Consistent Player worthy: Davieun Berry, Northrop; Xavier Ellington, Wayne; Griffin Little, Homestead
GAME OF THE YEAR
Bishop Dwenger 16, Evansville Central 10 (4OT)
During the regular season, the most unforgettable game was North Side’s 52-49 win over Bishop Luers, a shootout to end all shootouts. But it doesn’t get any better – or more suspenseful – than Dwenger’s Class 4A state championship win. How appropriate the defensive-oriented Saints were tied 0-0 heading into overtime. The roller coaster of emotions that ensued topped anything at an amusement park. Back-and-forth, on the verge of a loss, the Saints finally prevailed with a defensive play (interception by Charlie Howe) and an offensive play (touchdown run by TJ Tippmann).