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The Starfires of South Adams look to advance to the sectional finals for the first time since 2006 on Friday as they take on the Union City Indians on their home turf.
The records are the same; 9-1. The rankings are not. According to the coaches poll, South Adams is the fourth best team in 1A football this week, while Union City is perched just outside of the top ten. Both are coming off of great wins (SA over Monroe Central 46-0, Union City over Wes-Del 42-20).
The Starfires' strength of schedule is the main difference in the ranking separation. With key wins against schools like Bellmont, AC, Garrett, and Woodlan, the South Adams' strength of schedule looks much better than that of the Indians, whose only win against a team over .500 was a victory 20-7 victory over a Cambridge City Lincoln team who played even softer teams than Union City.
The Stars should not overlook the Indians, however, as the wins they have posted against the weak schools were impressive for the most part, including a 34-6 win against Tri, a 42-13 win against the Monroe Central team that SA just sent home packing this last Friday, and a 54-14 win against Wes-Del.
The Indians have beat the teams they were supposed to beat this year and should be commended for coming through on their season and making the best out of who they played. The game will be an offensive one as Union City has averaged 36 points a game, while the Starfires average 31.5 a contest.
The Starfires will most likely face the Sheridan Blackhawks in the sectional finals next Friday. Despite having a 7-3 record, Sheridan is ranked 6th in the state a few spots behind SA. The bright spot for Stars fans will be that the game would be home for the final.
Sheridan had key wins against Tipton and Clinton Prairie this season with a loss to Culver Military Academy 21-42 that still stings the Indians.
The Starfires are looking for their fifth sectional championship win, and their first since 1996. With their balanced run game and senior QB Dustin Wanner's passing game progressing exponentially in the last three games, it is not a stretch to think that SA could get out of their sectional and even regional, especially since they are favored to do so according to the coaches poll.
The first and only regional championship won by the Starfires was in 1992 when the school was in 2A. Should the Berne boys make it to regionals they face a potential match-up with 6-4 Northfield, 7-3 North Miami, or a dangerous cross-county rematch with the Flying Jets of Adams Central. North Miami is heavily favored to be the last team standing in their sectional, but with the way the Jets have been playing, it could be an Adams County regional match-up that will be exciting to see.