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BY JIM HOPKINS
It's championship Friday for Adams County high school football!
Ain't it grand!
"Hopefully, all three teams will play well and win. That would be a first. That would be crazy," stated Adams Central football coach Michael Mosser, whose Jets will be seeking a 17th sectional crown for the tradition rich Class A school tonight when North Miami comes to Central's field.
It's November, it's the 12th week of the season, and the fact that all three Adams County schools are still preparing for football games ... is not only a first, but it's not that surprising.
South Adams has been on a tear for a season and a half, going 16-2 since an 0-5 start to the 2010 season. They are where they should be, getting ready to host nine-time state champ Sheridan tonight for sectional honors.
Adams Central persevered through a 2-5 start, kept mentally strong and now has won four straight to bring in a 6-5 record against 8-3 North Miami. Bellmont had a tough start and a vicious schedule, playing all 4A and 5A teams after the second week of the season. They've dominated 3A thus far to take a 5-6 record to Western to meet the 9-2 Panthers.
But just as Adams Central will be competitive with North Miami, Bellmont will not worry about being pushed around in Russiaville. The Braves drubbed a very good Yorktown team last week after the Tigers ousted No. 2 Eastbrook. Early in the season, Eastbrook bounced Western. Western won three games, all by 64-0 against poor opponents this season, inflating their success. That schedule does not touch what Bellmont went through.
"A turning point for us was the DeKalb game," stated Bellmont offensive coordinator Chad Taylor, the team spokesman this week. "Our backs were against the wall when we were down by two at half. We told them, 'guys, this is our season. We can overcome this, or let it overcome us.' Bottom line, we came back and got two scores and won 29-19."
"The kids are hungry for a championship. In their eyes, you can tell they want to win, that they need to win."
Bellmont will be seeking a second sectional title, and a first since the dream season of '08. Adams Central hasn't won a sectional since '06 under legendary coach Rick Minnich. SA is looking for a fifth sectional title with the last title coming in 1996.
The Starfires will have to go through the state's top dawg Class A program, Sheridan, and Coach Bud Wright.
Stars Coach Jason Arnold has been emphasizing to his team that they will play only the 2011 Blackhawks.
"We've been reinforcing the point that we're not playing past teams. No one who played for those state champions is going to suit up and play tonight. We don't want the name on the front of the jersey to intimidate us," said Arnold.
The Starfires' great 10-1 record wasn't really a goal. "We wanted to win championships. Talent-wise, leadership-wise and senior-wise, we knew we were definitely good enough to win championships.”
"Football is such a game of confidence and attitude. When it's contagious in a good way, it's fun. When it's contagious in a bad way, it's not."
Adams Central lost five straight games, but managed to keep it together. "That five-game stretch was tough. We knew we were getting beat by better teams, and that we were playing them tough. We brought some of the problems on ourselves with turnovers and mistakes. We knew we had to fight through it. But I never felt like we lost hope.
"We were fortunate to pull one out against Bluffton. We found some confidence there. We felt all along that we had a great shot to win a sectional if we kept getting better," said Mosser.
"We are right where we thought we'd be going into the season, battling for a sectional title."
If both Central and South Adams win, they will play for a regional crown next Friday in Berne.
"No one is ready to quit yet," said Mosser. "We want to keep playing. That's what it's all about. That's why you do two-a-days, why you condition all summer, because you want to play for a championship. Our kids are ready mentally and physically. We'll see what they can bring tonight."
Three For Three
"Our guys have a lot of confidence in Dustin (Wanner, QB). His knowledge this year has helped him step up and lead this team," said Arnold. I like Wanner and the STARS, 19-14.
At Russiaville, there will be too much of Brian Hakes, Cody Walters, Dewey Melcher, Ben Baker, Brad Busse and Isaac Birch for the Panthers to handle. BELLMONT 14, Western 7.
Despite being 2-5, the AC players still felt they were would play in November. Zeke Schultz, Warren Burkhart, Dalton Combs, Will Schultz, Spencer Sharp, Ben Snider, Kurt Blake, Ben Pfister, Colby Cauble and Shawn Reinhard are ready to gang up on the Blackhawks. JETS 34, N. Miami 28.