By DYLAN MALONE
It’s amazing what an off-season can do for a program.
Just ask Bellmont football coach Larry Getts who has his Braves off to a 2-0 start including a fantastic showing in Berne against another program on the rise in South Adams.
The Braves were stellar and no one noticed until the second half. If you ask coach Getts, he’ll tell you that that is by design. Bellmont’s bread and butter since the coach’s arrival has been “blue collar” style of play bumping and grinding on the front lines wearing defenses down.
When the kick was up and good for SA giving them a 17-14 lead heading into the locker room, coach Getts did not get angry and throw things around to get the boys attention. He got them focused and reminded them gruffly that Bellmont football’s philosophy is that of a hard-worker and the results could be seen by the fourth quarter.
The Braves did not need to wait that long.
On their opening drive of the second half, they chugged the Starfire defense all of the way down the court and scored to give them their first lead and only necessary second half score. The defense was holding down the feisty Stars, the offense was working like a finely tuned machine, and South Adams could only watch in horror as their terrific run of 17 wins in the last 20 games took a hit.
The test of time will tell if Bellmont can keep this up, though. They handled a pair of ACAC teams on the rebuild in Woodlan and South Adams, but what about Columbia City tomorrow? The NHC can be a scary place to play if you’re one of the smaller schools. The Braves will face even greater challenges later such as a terrifying road game at…gulp…Homestead, a place where the band may outnumber the amount of Bellmont fans that show up (please prove me wrong).
Can coach Getts’ run it up the gut style truly slow down the big guns? It certainly looked that way last year. It just took the 2011 team a lot longer to figure out that Getts actually knew what he was doing when he had them run the ball up the middle over and over and over. It wasn’t until the playoffs that Bellmont’s team showed their grit pounding out a sectional title and giving Lafayette one hell of a run.
This year’s group has embraced the coach’s zen a little sooner. While South Adams did lose a majority of their players to graduation, they still have the mechanics and coaching to win a number of football games (stay tuned for SA vs. AC). Bellmont just played that much better…
Speaking of Starfires, can coach Jason Arnold pull his team together? After nonchalantly defeating an improved Winchester team, a team they put 76 points on last season, by a few scores, SA had an impressive first half against Bellmont, then found out the hard way that the real game is in the second half. The young, but talented, Starfire team could make some noise this season even without the Dustin Wanners, the Zach Morgans, and the rest of the all-star senior class of 2011 who left their 10-win stamp on Starfield for all to see. This new group, after practically sitting out for a season observing the former class and how they won, seem to be in tune with coach Arnold already and this sports writer is excited to see how they respond to a Bellmont beating with Bluffton coming to town, a complete contrast in style as the Tigers like to air it out in their game.
And what about the Jets? Where are they in the conversation of best team in the county? Due to no Bellmont/AC matchups anytime soon, that question will not get a definite answer. A good gauge though will be when the Starfires host the Jets on September 21.
Adams Central is 2-0, but after smashing a horrible Blackford squad, then limping past Union County, where are the Jets’ exactly? What is their identity? They have a lot of key pieces in the lineup but after winning sectional last season, they also have a lot of holes.
The one constant has been Dalton Combs, the senior quarterback, however. Capable of making the big play at any moment on the field, the senior will be the focus of many teams coming in to play AC this season. A problem for AC…Combs so far this season has dropped the football more often than sponsors dropped Tiger Woods after his meltdown. That sounds like an insult, but it’s not meant to be. Combs is an amazing athlete and he just needs an extra amount of stick’em on those hands before the game!
There’s a lot of pressure riding on Combs to do well with a group of new Jets in positions they aren’t used to being in yet. With the weapons they have at their disposal, however, it’s not that big of a stretch to think that this group of Jets could get out of their sectional again this season. The entire team, not just Combs, needs to hold on to the pigskin!!! If the Jets fumble the ball like they did against Blackford or UC, they will have a rude awakening tomorrow when they play Leo. For the Jets to have a chance at all against the ACAC’s biggest school, they will have to take care of the football and play clock management.