They say sometimes that the easiest person to beat is one’s self, but sometimes, like Friday’s regional between Adams Central and Carroll, it’s the exact opposite, especially when a team plays an opponent who looks and plays just like them. Such is the case in this week’s matchup between the Cougars and the Jets.
“They run a similar offense to what we do, so they know how to stop teams like us,” noted coach Mosser in his mid-week interview with the DDD. “This is a big game for us. They are big and they are physical.”
The Cougars have just one blemish to their 2022 record, a tough, one-point loss to long-time 1A powerhouse Sheridan (19-18) in Week 9. The only common opponent for the two schools is Southern Wells, whom Carroll beat 43-6 with a running clock.
Last week the Cougars knocked off West Central in a 47-6 drubbing to set up this Friday’s showdown of top-ten teams. Carroll was led by Keegan Ellis and his five rushing touchdowns. Ellis ended the night with 224 yards rushing in the victory.
Now the Cougars are focused on taking the next step and winning a regional title, something they have not done since 1996. Since that time, the Jets have won 10 regional trophies.
Coach Mosser knows that his opponents are not just an offensive and rushing juggernaut, though.
“Defensively they are good at the linebacker position and everybody flows to the ball,” says the coach, now in his 14th year in charge. “We have to stay true to our responsibilities and be as efficient as we can be.”
Looking inwardly, Mosser knows that his team is pretty banged up right now, especially on defense. The Jets are likely to be down three defensive starters at kickoff Friday from the team that took the field at Southwood three weeks ago. Along with cornerback Cam Smith, who is out for the season and in a wheelchair on the sideline, Adams Central is also likely to be missing Ryan Tester and Cody Lautzenheiser. Tester suffered a high ankle sprain in the first half at Northfield and Lautzenheiser took a hard hit to the legs down in the trenches against the Norsemen.
“This is an obvious blow to us but we do have people who can step in and play,” notes the coach. “It is not ideal but it is what every team faces in the playoffs. Injuries are a part of the game and do play a major part in winning and losing in the postseason. We work hard to get our replacements ready to play. They know how important this game is and know they must play well so that we don’t miss a beat. I hope we can do that.”
Those boys playing an increased role will have to prepare for the big run game of the Cougars.
“We work hard on making sure our kids maintain discipline,” says the coach. “They have responsibilities that they must keep when facing a run-heavy team. Maintaining discipline helps us to not get fooled when the team uses misdirection for example.”
Of course, Mosser is not the only coach preparing for a ground attack. Blake Betzner, now 20-5 in his two years at Carroll, will have to figure out how to stop the Jets’ potent attack, beginning with Keegan Bluhm, who has now reached the 1200-yard mark in rushing this season. Tester’s absence will require more of Gavin Cook, who has shown flashes of absolute brilliance this season with ten touchdowns and a 16.7 yard rushing average per carry.
Fans of smash-mouth football will have quite a delight Friday when the two teams kick off at 7:30 p.m. for a regional title.