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"There's probably any number of teams that could win it," stated Churubusco coach Lee Etzler on Sectional 35's possibilities for a champ.
"There are quite a few teams that have shown good success this year. The team that wins is going to have to show up each and every week with their A-game, that's for sure," said Etzler whose Churubusco Eagles play host to Adams Central Friday night in one of the early critical games. The No. 3 Eagles come in at 8-1, while the improving Jets are 7-2.
North Miami has a solid 6-3 record, but they host one of the hottest teams in the area in South Adams, 4-5 after a four-game winning streak which included the 69-14 dismantling of No. 6 Southern Wells last week.
Fremont is at Northfield on the SA-North Miami side, and Southern Wells will travel to 2-7 Southwood with the winner meeting the Jets, or the Eagles.
A year ago, the Eagles were stunned by Adams Central. The hosts built a 16-0 lead, then watched as the Jets battled back and took control of the game.
"Sometimes you can get in trouble with expectations. We're up 16-0 and expected to win and felt like the game was going our way, but, credit to AC, they played really well, stuck with what they wanted to do, then the quarterback (Dalton Combs) hit a couple of long touchdown passes. All our kids suffered wide eyes, we started playing slower and the kids were shocked at situation they were in. We couldn't recover," explained Etzler.
"We just want to play our best football, and we're not going to try to convince the kids AC a good team, they know."
"I am very proud of what this team accomplished this year - it has not always been pretty but this team does know how to pull together when they need to and win games," said Central coach Michael Mosser.
"We have played some great competition and have been in some games that we could have easily lost. Our goal is to always out hit, out play, and out class our opponents — I believe we did that this year."
"AC has always had a tradition of winning. We expect to win even when we shouldn't. That is who we are," declared Mosser.
The Jets are going to have to limit the Eagles' Kyle Mathewson, who Etzler says is one of the best football players to come out of Churubusco. He has carried 158 times for 1650 yards, with 19 TDs, rushing, and seven more receiving. He's also the punter.
Mathewson is a fullback in the Wing-T and runs a lot of trap plays, but can also get around the end. Currently, he's suffering from a deep thigh bruise, but will play.
QB Kyle Mond has tossed for 602 yards with 14 touchdowns and six interceptions.
"We must stop Mathewson and keep their offense off the field. We must maintain ball control. Our Offense has struggled the last two games — we cannot struggle — we must be "on" to win this ball game. We must methodically go down the field and score as often as we can. If they get up on us they will be hard to beat," said Mosser.
Combs has tossed for 1010 yards. Nathan Busse has rushed for 512 and Spencer Sharp 566 for the Jets.
One advantage the Jets have is that 'Busco almost always goes for two points after touchdowns. They feel they don't have a reliable kicking game. However, they are very successful on the two-pointers.
South Adams is going great guns after the poor start. "We are finally playing with some confidence. It is the same players who played during the 0-5 portion of our record but now they know that they can win and are expecting to win. Also, we are gaining experience. Our starting lineup usually consists of 7-8 juniors. Those juniors did not have a lot of varsity experience the first few weeks of the season, and now they are seasoned veterans," said coach Jason Arnold.
" As we have gained confidence and experience, we have limited the amount of mistakes that we are making. It is a lot easier to win when you are not fumbling the ball away as many times as we did early on."
The Stars will be facing the very successful spread offense of North Miami. However, speed is not a problem for the Stars.
The keys to the game for South Adams? "Stingy defense and executing offense — we must play mistake free (or at least eliminate big mistakes) to win," said Arnold.