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By DYLAN MALONE
We’ve been here before.
Bellmont entered last year’s sectional sporting a worse record than this season when they defeated Western to win the sectional title starting the playoffs at 3-5.
The Braves sit at 4-4 and have looked lost at times this season in the second half but also had moments of clarity, particularly in the passing game, that have led to wins against teams they should beat.
Against the DeKalb Barons, it was the run game that led the Braves to a victory a few weeks back. Last Friday, Bellmont was introduced to some humility when they were trounced at home by East Noble amid clear skies.
So what is it with this team?
Is East Noble the real deal or did we choke?
Well, they did top Columbia City 72-0 less than a month ago but they were smeared by Homestead and Carroll just like everyone else.
Last season it did not matter what happened in the regular season as Bellmont was prepared to do what they had to do to win when the games meant moving on or preparing for the basketball season early.
The same man is at the helm this season and coach Larry Getts’ philosophy hasn’t changed but skeptics say his kids have.
This seems to be a version of the Braves who are lost without vocal leaders on the field like last year’s heroic team of seniors. Losing to the Barons was a little more plausible considering their star seniors, running back Brad Busse and center Jake Brown, were both out nursing injuries.
The good news is that both could have suited up against the Barons but coach Getts has a bigger goal than a third conference win on the season as he looks for his second consecutive sectional crown in his third year at the helm. The challenge, like it has been all season long, has been will the athletes buy into the system of grind-it-out football?
Yorktown at home tomorrow for the Braves. We will see soon enough if the team can melt it all together and finally leave it all on the field to move on.
Adams Central and South Adams are once again in seperate sectionals for some geographical coincidence that will be corrected next season as the classes realign once again. Until then, however, the rare opportunity for all three county schools to win a sectional is not as wide open as it was last season.
The Jets have the better chance of moving on with their sectional as South Adams will have to contend with either Sheridan once again or Union City who is favored to take the crown this season. The good news for the Starfires is that both teams are on the other side of the bracket fighting Southern Wells and Monroe Central and will not see the Berne boys until the final.
AC has a repeat of the first round last season facing Triton at home which should be a treat for Jet fans who are used to traveling in the first round and Triton is more than a hay-ride away.
The Jets need to take care of the football this playoffs if they want to pick up their second straight title and 18th in school history. The passing game from AC is high risk/high reward with deep threats like Alex Byerly and company but the fumbles continue to plague the Jets this season at inopportune times.
Like the Braves, Adams Central needs to turn on their “Jets” and put on their big boy pants. It’s the last chance for four-year QB Dalton Combs to make noise at the high school level. It’s nice to have the all-time passing yards record, but I’m sure he would trade it in for another shot at a regional title.
The Starfires had the benefit of playing one of the tougher opponents in their sectional last week at Bluffton. No, not the Tigers...Southern Wells.
I can’t explain just how big of a mental game football can be sometimes but when your team hasn’t played a true home game all season long, it can seem a little daunting come playoff time.
The Raiders have improved vastly since getting thumped by AC at Ball State and South Adams fought through to get their second win of the season in coach Jason Arnold’s last horrah.
That’s more of a testament to how far the young Starfires have come than So. Wells. Lapel was a good draw for a team STILL searching for an identity on offense. The key for SA this week will be the second-half push. Can this group of guys find a way to win when they are tired and beat up? I think so.
Call me an optimist but I’m thinking clean county sweep this week with three favorable match-ups at home: Bellmont 31, Yorktown 21...Adams Central 47, Triton 28...South Adams 14, Lapel 6.