KPC NEWS SERVICE
With head coach Andy Thomas in his fourth year at the helm of the Angola football team, the Hornets reached rare heights.
And with senior quarterback Chance Roddy (2,249 yards, 21 touchdowns) pulling the trigger of the team’s high-powered offense, the Hornets advanced further into the state playoffs than any other area gridiron team.
Angola’s Class 4A regional matchup with Bishop Dwenger — a 34-0 loss to the Saints — was only the second such contest the team had ever played in. The Hornets entered the game 12-0, which matches the highest win total in team history first set in 1992.
How do you put this past season into perspective? Consider this:
• Over the course of the past 23 seasons, Angola has averaged a total of 5.8 wins per season. Coach Thomas has averaged 6.5 wins during his four-year stint with the Hornets to date.
• During those 23 years, Angola has won more than six games just five times, two of which came under Luke Amstutz, the current head coach of East Noble, including a high of nine wins in 2010.
The combination of Roddy, a three-year starter for the Hornets, and Thomas has set a new bar for following Angola teams to reach for, taking a program that has often missed out on the feelings of success and turned it into a regional power. All of the above and more is why Roddy and Thomas have been named the KPC Media Group player and coach of the year.
Rounding out the rest of our 2017 All-Area football team are:
Chase Schnepf, Jr.
The Hornets’ lead running back on the season, Schnepf, in his second year starting, tallied 1,034 yards and 25 touchdowns on 136 carries (7.6 yards per carry) en route to garnering All-Northeast Corner Conference honors. He also hauled in eight catches for 219 yards and two more scores.
Cole Trick, Sr.
The team’s best offensive lineman, according to coach Thomas, Trick played both ways at times, bolstering an impressive group of both offensive and defensive linemen. Trick ended his career as a three-year starter and gained All-NECC honors this past season.
Braydon Hart, Sr.
The heart of the Hornets’ defense, Hart gained 96 tackles, including five for loss, two sacks and two picks from his linebacker spot. He also returned one of those interceptions 97 yards for a score. Hart ends his Angola career as a three-time All-NECC player on defense.
Luke Honer, Jr.
Honer is another star linebacker. However, his most memorable play this season came on special teams when he blocked a field goal attempt late in regulation to force overtime in the sectional championship game against Culver Military.
Honer tallied 76 tackles, six for loss, one interception and recovered one fumble.
Ryan Brandt, So.
Brandt, a defensive back for the Hornets, led the team with five picks during his sophomore campaign while also racking up 51 tackles, two passes defended and one fumble recovery. Brandt also blocked three punts on special teams.
Joel McCurdy, Jr.
Angola’s second rusher behind Schnepf, McCurdy did most of his damage through the air as a hybrid runner/slot receiver, hauling in 54 catches for 638 yards and six touchdowns. While McCurdy didn’t get a ton of carries, just 38 total for the year, he made the most of them, gaining 282 yards (7.4 per rush) and five more scores.
Eric Cockroft, Jr.
Cockroft launched himself into cult stardom territory when he kicked a 38-yard field goal to send his team into overtime during the win over Culver in the sectional finals. Cockroft only missed one such kick on the year (6-of-7 total) while making 54-of-58 extra point tries.
Breeon Burgess, Sr.
Perhaps the most electric football player to step onto a field this past season, Burgess racked up over 1,000 yards this season while averaging over 10 yards per carry, playing a crucial role in the Cougars’ resurgence.
Braxton Dial, Sr.
The thunder to Burgess’ lightning, Dial thrived during his senior campaign as Central Noble’s power back, including going over 100 yards during the sectional championship against Woodlan after Burgess exited with an injury. Dial eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark as well for a team that rushed for over 3,000 total yards this season.
Levi Leffers, Jr.
Leffers anchored solid offensive and defensive lines for the Class 2A sectional runner-up Cougars. He made the All-NECC Small School Division team as a defensive lineman.
Jeff Myers, Sr.
Myers was most valuable to the Cougars at cornerback and made the All-NECC Small School Division team for his play in the secondary. He picked off a school-record four passes in CN’s 49-14 win at Lakeland on Sept. 22.
Tadd Owen, Sr.
Owen was an All-NECC Small School Division selection at linebacker. He also played offensive guard.
Mason Anderson, Sr.
A linebacker and tight end for the Eagles, Anderson did most of his work on the defensive end, racking up 61 tackles, 7.5 for a loss, and one sack during 2017. He also caught 11 passes for 235 yards and four touchdowns on offense.
Reese Wicker, So.
Another two-way player for ’Busco, Wicker starred on the offensive and defensive lines. He tallied 54 tackles, 11.5 for loss, and three sacks during his time on defense, while, on offense, he helped pave the way for a team that put up 317 total yards per game and scored a combined 42 touchdowns.
Joey Emenhiser, Jr.
As versatile a player as there is, Emenhiser played in all three phases of the game for the Eagles. He played at running back, defensive back, kicker, punter and returner. On offense, he tallied 209 total yards and four scores, while notching 26 tackles, four passes defended and three picks on defense. He also converted on all two of his field goal attempts and 40-of-43 extra point tries as the team’s kicker.
Colin Goebel, Sr.
The Barons’ senior wide receiver ended his career third on the team’s all-time list with 99 catches for 1,434 yards. He ended 2017 with the sixth most receiving yards during a season in program history (745 yards on 51 catches) while hauling in six touchdowns. He also set a school record with 258 yards in a single game.
Donald Hughes, Sr.
An All-Northeast 8 player for his final two seasons, Hughes starred as a guard on the offensive line. The three-year starter for the Barons earned an 86 percent lineman grade during the 2017 season.
Andrew McCormick, Sr.
The Indiana State signee has been called by Amstutz the “best player to ever walk the halls of East Noble.” McCormick set the school record for career passing yards during his senior season, while throwing for 2,132 yards and 21 scores this past season. He also rushed for 820 yards and 11 more scores.
Kenny Cook, Sr.
The most valuable player of the Knights’ defense, Cook was the catalyst that sparked what turned out to be a very good defensive unit in Kendallville. Cook tallied 142 tackles during 2017, while also forcing four fumbles.
Kaiden Harshberger, Jr.
This utility guy played more as a slot receiver this year, switching gears from his role as the team’s primary running back last season. In his new role, Harshberger tallied 71 catches for 892 yards and eight touchdowns for the Knights.
Griffen Dafforn-Koebler, Sr.
The player known as “DK” in Knight territory ended his career as the team’s starting running back after playing as more of a h-back in year’s prior. DK carried the ball 61 times for 236 yards while catching 12 passes for 118 yards and scoring seven total touchdowns.
Damian Bowker, Sr.
Bowker’s most memorable play this season was probably his game-clinching interception during overtime against Plymouth in overtime. Playing primarily as a corner while moonlighting as a strong safety, Bowker racked up 75 tackles during his final year in the blue and gold.
Tony Smith, Sr.
The Knights’ most dominant offensive lineman, Smith helped pave the way for an offense that led the NE8 in total yards and rushing yards in 2017.
Aaron Dean, Sr.
An All-NECC wide receiver for the Small School Division co-champion Blazers, Dean hauled in 46 catches for 731 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2017.
McCullough Baysden, Sr.
Baysden had a dominant year as a defensive end for Eastside, racking up 50 tackles, 9.5 sacks and 6 tackles for loss on his way to All-NECC standing.
Hayden Greene, Sr.
Greene led the Railroaders in total tackles with 80 and was picked to the 2017 Indiana High School Academic All-Star Team. He had 44 solo tackles, six for loss and two sacks. He forced three fumbles, recovered a fumble and had an interception.
Beck Davis, Sr.
Davis made the Indiana Football Coaches Association’s Class 3A Senior All-State Team as an offensive lineman. He also had 48 tackles on defense. That included five tackles for loss and two sacks.
Adam Kreider, Jr.
Kreider rushed for 1,450 yards and 15 touchdowns and averaged six yards per carry. He also caught seven passes for 51 yards and recovered a fumble on defense.
Kreider rushed for 306 yards and three touchdowns in 25 carries in Lakeland’s 38-26 first-round Class 3A sectional home win over Heritage on Oct. 20.
Nolan Isaacs, Sr.
Isaacs did a lot for the 5-6 Lakers. He ran for 1,059 yards at 8.5 yards per carry, caught 33 passes for 550 yards, and scored 13 total touchdowns. He averaged 24 yards per kickoff return in 12 attempts, averaged 30.2 yards per punt in 26 tries, and intercepted four passes. He also made 48 tackles and blocked a punt.
Draven Rasler, Sr.
Playing in a new role as the nose tackle for the Chargers’ defensive front, Rasler finished the year ninth in the state with 12 sacks in 2017. He also racked up 96 tackles, 17 for loss, six quarterback hurries, forced four fumbles and recovered two.
Brandon Pruitt, So.
Pruitt finished the year as one of the area’s most pleasant surprises on both sides of the ball. Just a sophomore, Pruitt starred at running back, tallying 1,062 yards on 163 carries, while also catching eight balls for 104 yards and scoring 11 total touchdowns. Playing as a linebacker on defense, he racked up 103 tackles and 6.5 sacks.
Players earning Honorable Mention status for the 2017 season include: Kyle Trick, Ben Villafuerte, Eric Clifton, Jarret Schultz, Jarrett Gibson, Marcques Tagliaferri and Sean Miller of Angola; Brian Bergman of Lakeland; Spencer Pattee, Jordan Slayton, Hayden Jones, Bailey Parker and Nolan Mallas of East Noble; Caleb Ballentine, Chase Cleckner, Joe White and Hunter King of Eastside; Nathaniel Keener and Tom Richards of Churubusco; Seth Metcalf of Prairie Heights; Spencer Shrock of West Noble; Connor Kirkpatrick, Jordan Winebrenner, Ellie Cole and Erika Maneke of Central Noble; Drake Baker, Colin Shafer and Cam Smith of Garrett; and Landon Miller, Alec Brunson and Tylar Pomeroy of DeKalb.