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"Our plan is to keep their offense off the field by moving the ball ourselves," stated Union County football coach Rich Padgett on the strategy that his Patriots will use in facing Michael Mosser's No. 6 Adams Central Jets for the first time this Friday night.
The game will take place at Union County, which is located three counties south, 80 miles, and it will begin at 7:30 p.m.
"We know who we're going up against, the tradition that they have and the athletic talent they possess. We need to keep the ball and also score some points while we're doing it. We know that they had some problems on defense last week and will be preparing this week to improve, so we have our work cut out for us."
Both teams come in 1-0 for the inaugural meeting. The Jets outscored Blackford last week, 53-28, while the 2A Patriots disposed of North Decatur 28-6. "It was a good win against a team we've had some problems with over the years," noted Padgett.
"I compare them to Blackford. They're scrappy, have a few good athletes, including two quarterbacks and good receivers. Their schedule is not as good as ours," noted Central coach Michael Mosser.
The Patriots did have a tough loss last year to Hagerstown, which is a solid football school with some playoff success.
The teams found each other because of a mutual need. Adams Central has been looking for a steady foe in this half of the state to fill the slot, and Union County lost its contract with Lawrenceburg, which is playing a nearby Ohio school in the second week. The contract appears to be ongoing.
"We look at the game as a good measuring stick, to let us know where we are. It's a good test for us," said Padgett.
Defense is the key this week for Central, which gave up too much yardage and too many points last week to Blackford. "That, to me, is our big key this week — can we tackle better and not give up big plays, something that we did not do last week against Blackford," said Mosser.
"I think our kids will be ready to play this week, even after a longer bus ride," said Mosser.
The Jets will have to prepare for two UC quarterbacks, Matt Baker and Austin Bourne, both seniors, and both with experience. Baker hit 8 of 16 tosses for 126 yards and three TDs with two interceptions last week. Bourne hit 3 of 5 for 20 yards and a pick-off.
Baker added 107 yards rushing on 16 carries. Bourne rushed for 33 yards on six tries. Bourne also caught five passes for 78 yards and all three touchdowns.
When Baker is at QB, Bourne will be the main receiver. When Bourne is QB, Baker is the tailback. It appears to be working.
The Patriots lost their top two rushers to graduation. Though a few years back, UC had a runningback who gained 4,600 yards in his career, the Pats went to the air last year as Bourne tossed for 1,344 yards and nine touchdowns, in seven games. Baker hit 34 of 74 for 554 yards and five touchdowns in five games. Injuries to both QBs forced the dual usage.
Most of the pass receiving yardage graduated, though Joey Gills caught 23 passes for 384 yards and three touchdowns last year. He caught four tosses for 64 yards last week.
Seven ballcarriers rushed for 311 yards on 44 carries last week for the Jets, with Spencer Sharp leading the way with 149 yards on 19, scoring twice.
QB Dalton Combs, in his third year as a starter, hit 9 of 13 tosses for 154 yards and four touchdowns. Landon Brunner caught three passes for 86 yards and two of the scores, and Ben Snider nabbed three for 24 yards and two touchdowns.