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By DYLAN MALONE
Before I go too far into the world of sports, I’d like to give a shout out to the man who made me a cartoon, Derek Miller, who worked tirelessly on the sweet new header for this column. He went out of his way to do that for me and I thought it was note-worthy to name drop for him here in my space. Stay tuned for the column next week, “Halloween edition.”
It’s high school football playoff time, folks. While perennially it’s usually Adams Central and Bellmont who make the headlines with the pigskin, this year the roles are reversed and the Starfires of South Adams are looking to make some noise and bring some pride to the tiny town of Berne, Indiana with their squad led by senior quarterback Dustin Wanner and company.
Don’t count the Braves and Jets out though, as both teams have been making great strides this season amongst a pair of rebuilding years. While Jets coach Moser has big shoes to fill in the wake of Coach Minnich’s dynasty, Braves head man coach Getts has been rebuilding as well from the ground up starting with an entirely new coaching staff.
What the Braves lack this year is any form of a passing game. While some teams can get away with strictly running the ground and pound (see South Adams football), Bellmont does not have the strength of front line or experience necessary yet to make the run game dominant again. Melcher, Shifferly, Busse, and Walters can certainly fill it up on the stat sheet if given enough space, however.
What the Braves lack in offensive options they make up for with defense. Their record is a little bit deceptive as well. In their loses, neglecting the thrashing that Homestead handed them in the middle of the season, the Braves have lost five games by a total of 34 points. Coming off of the deflating Homestead game where Bellmont lost 55-7, the Braves came back and shut the Carroll Chargers down only allowing them ten points.
The Braves drew a Blackford Bruins team that sits at 1-8 on the year and received a 53-28 thumping at the hands of the Flying Jets in the season opener. They have a great opportunity to advance to next week where they will likely see the undefeated Eastbrook Panthers who are ranked fifth in 3A.
The #18 ranked Jets have an incredibly favorable sectional as they face off against a 2-7 Triton team who has struggled to put points on the board all season.
Scoring hasn’t really been as difficult for the Jets but they will have to tighten their defense if they want to have a chance of going beyond Triton. The Jets have allowed 20+ points in seven out of their nine games this season. The running game of Sharp and the passing from Combs have to be on the money for the Jets to be successful.
Should they win this week they will most likely go on to face Freemont, another team struggling this year with a 2-7 mark. Freemont drew a winless Central Noble team. Should the Jets make it to the sectional final, the team most likely to make it through the other side of the bracket to face them is North Miami who have a 5-4 record on the year and are ranked 11th in 1A.
The Starfires come into the sectional ranked #3 in the state and have high hopes of a breakout year for their program under coach Jason Arnold (although at 8-1, it already seems like a breakout year. Stupid Leo Lions…). The last time South Adams was 8-1 was 1993, the end of a string of great football teams in Berne.
The Stars will be reliant on the health and play of Wanner, as well as the stud running back trio of Morgan, Farlow, and Wygant. The wildcard may be players like wideout Nick Batt and receiver/running back combo Marcus Rich, who have come up with huge plays for SA this year when they were needed most.
Right from the start, fans knew the offense would not be the issue on most nights when they blew out Winchester 76-12 on opening night at Star Field. The defense has not allowed more than 20 points to anyone except one team. Yes…Leo. They only gave up 30 points, however. Yes, I said “only.” The only other team to keep Leo to 30 or under this season was Heritage and to be fair about it, it was pouring in Monroeville that night.
So the Stars drew Monroe Central in the first round. In their second year of existence, this lowly school’s football program received their first win just this season and sit at 3-6. They lost to Southern Wells two weeks ago, 41-7 and the Stars defeated the Raiders just last week 34-13. If the Stars move on to next week, they will most likely see an 8-1 Union City squad ranked 12th in 1A. And, looking ahead to the finals of sectional play, South Adams is looking to see #5 ranked Sheridan.
All three county schools have a great shot at advancing for one more week of football. Best of luck to our boys from each school and get out there and cheer them on, fans!