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Gridiron Digest Indiana Football Report - Week 6


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Jets, Starfires to meet in annual Adams County war

Andrew Smith
GridironDigest.com

To find some of the best small-school football in Indiana, look no further than Adams County. 

Since 2011, the Adams Central Flying Jets and South Adams Starfires have each won six sectional titles. Each has been a state runner-up in the last couple of years - Adams Central advancing to Lucas Oil Stadium, South Adams in 2020. 

Both are mainstays in the Class A polls, and their regular-season meeting frequently decides the Allen County Athletic Conference title. 

This week, the two schools again meet on the gridiron at South Adams. Adams Central (5-0) is ranked No. 2 in the Class A IFCA poll, while South Adams (4-1) is No. 5. 

“It is the best small school rivalry in the state,” South Adams coach Grant Moser said. “The ACAC conference (title) has gone through one of us since 2016. Both teams have small tight-knit communities that love their football programs and show up in droves to support.  It is an incredible atmosphere to be able to witness.” 

The familiarity makes for a great game. It’s 9.6 miles from Adams Central’s campus in Monroe to South Adams in Berne. 

“It's a big game for both teams,” Adams Central coach Michael Mosser said. “We know each other well. I think it's neat that both programs have had a lot of success which makes the game even more special. The game is always hard-fought - neither team has really been able to dominate the other. AC does have more wins; however, games are usually very close.  It is rare that one will dominate the other. This year could see a lot of the same.” 

A year ago, Adams Central won both meetings - 48-7 in the regular season and 41-0 in the regional. In 2020, South Adams won a 29-9 decision in the regular season. 

Led by quarterback Ryan Black, Adams Central posted a 25-21 victory over Eastside - a 2A semistate team from a year ago - and has scored 40-plus points each in consecutive wins over Covenant Christian, Jay County and Heritage in the last three weeks. 

This year’s success is building on a recent history. The Flying Jets are 118-47 in Mosser’s 14 years in Monroe. 

“I think the reason for our success is the tradition that we have,” Mosser said. “We have a system and a culture that kids believe in. I think this helps us be successful. Kids love playing football at Adams Central. Last year's success is definitely part of it but it really goes deeper than last season. It's built into the kids and lasted long before me.” 

The same takes place at South Adams, where the Starfares are 62-26 in Moser’s eight years. 

“We have total buy-in from players, parents and administration along with great community support,” Moser said. “Our kids have set the culture and now know what it takes to be successful.” 

South Adams won its first three games before falling 28-27 to Heritage in Week 4. The Starfires bounced back with a 35-19 victory over Monroe Central - another team that has spent time in the Top 10 this season - last week. 

Quarterback Owen Wanner has thrown for 1,046 yards and 12 TDs to lead South Adams. Maverick Summersett is averaging 6.4 yards per carry on the ground. 

“Wanner is a good passer and runner. We will need to contain him and not let him pass or run all over the field,” Adams Central’s Mosser said. “Offensively we must be able to run the ball.  They have always made that hard on us. They like shifting around a lot and blitzing.” 

Adams Central’s run game, led by Keehan Blum, will be keyed on as well. 

They are the favorites in the 1A north once again,” South Adams’ Moser said of the Jets. “We will need to play mistake free football and find some way to slow down their run game.” 

Sheridan joins the 700 club

When one thinks of small-school success in Indiana, the Sheridan Blackhawks have long been the gold standard. 

The program reached another milestone last Friday with a 42-0 victory at Clinton Prairie, winning its 700th game all-time. 

Sheridan, which has been playing football since 1898, is the third program in the state to reach the 700-win mark. Indianapolis Cathedral (771) and Evansville Reitz (721) are the only two with more victories. Mishawaka (665) and Hobart (652) are the next-closest to 700. 

Head coach Larry “Bud” Wright was a part of 24 of those wins as a player from 1955-58. After graduating from Sheridan and Ball State, he returned to his alma mater in 1966 as the head coach after one year at Mt. Ayr High School - which is now part of North Newton. He has been the head coach for 439 of those victories since then. Wright has led the Blackhawks to nine state championships - the first coming in 1980, the latest in 2007.
“The first thing is it takes a lot of hard work and dedication to what you’re doing,” Wright told Hoosierland TV after the milestone win. “In the younger days, I went to probably 15 to 20 clinics every year, listened to the best speakers I could, took things from everybody and started putting things together. The pieces started fitting together.
“You also have to have a lot of good people around you. I have been blessed down through the years to have some excellent assistant coaches and fine athletes”.

This year’s squad is currently unranked in Class A - it’s receiving votes in the AP poll - but is 4-1 and outscoring opponents by an average score of 40-11. After a Week 1 loss to Western Boone - a Top 10 3A team - the Blackhawks have rolled off four straight lopsided wins. This year’s team features a powerful running game led by senior Peyton Cross, who has 729 yards and eight touchdowns, and junior Zach Bales, who has tallied 429 yards and seven scores. Both average more than 10 yards per carry. 

Sheridan will go for win 701 this week at home against Taylor in a non-conference game. 

ICC lead up for grabs as No. 1, No. 2 meet

The lead in the Indiana Crossroads Conference is up for grabs this week as 1A No. 1 Indianapolis Lutheran meets 2A No. 2 Indianapolis Scecina. The game will be played at Roncalli. 

Both teams are 5-0 to start the year. 

“The Lutheran game is very big in it positions the winner to win the conference, which is always a goal,” Scecina coach Ott Hurrle said. “This game will help us get a better understanding of where we are in regards to tournament play.” 

Lutheran, the defending Class A state champion, is averaging 53 points per game. The Saints’ offense is led by sophomore quarterback Jackson Willis, who leads the state with 1,639 passing yards. He thew for 385 in last week’s 50-12 victory over Cascade and has a season-high of 417 in a 54-41 Week 3 win over Triton Central. 

Willis has more than capably filled the shoes of now-graduated Montasi Clay, who accounted for 4,579 yards of total offense and 65 touchdowns a year ago and is now at Marian University. Micah MacKay has 640 receiving yards and ranks fourth in the state. 

The Saints have been a perennial Class A power under coach Dave Pasch, winning seven sectionals, six regionals, two semistates and a state title since 2014. They have won 20 consecutive games dating back to 2021. 

Scecina has been a defensive stalwart so far through five weeks, posting two shuouts and allowing five touchdowns in five games. 

The Crusaders are building off a strong season in which they went 10-4 and won a regional. They’ve already avenged two of their regular-season losses from last year, beating Speedway 28-7 in Week 2 and Heritage Christian 27-13 last week. A victory this week would avenge the third. 

Senior leadership during the off season in getting players to buy in and be at workouts during the summer,” Hurrle said of a key to the Crusaders’ success this season. “Our defense has played very well and has allowed our offense to come along and its getting better.”

Hurrle is in his 31st year at the helm of the Crusaders. He has led them to two state titles in 1990 and 1991. 

Senior Mason Beriault leads the Crusaders’ defense with 48 tackles, while Tamir Woods has 43 stops and 13 tackles for loss. Defensive tackle Adam Young, another senior, has 11 TFLs. Hurrle also has cited the play of linebacker Calvin Connor, defensive end Jaylen Long and linebacker Keaton Thibo, all seniors, as leaders on defense. Offensively, running back Brandon Fitts-Ramsey has 531 rushing yards, leading a balanced attack. 

Cougars into the Top 10

After knocking on the door at the end of last season, Greenfield-Central’s Cougars have spent much of the season in the IFCA Class 4A Top 10.

The Cougars went 7-4 last season - their third winning season since 2002 - and have started this season 4-1, with the only blemish a 35-28 defeat to defending 4A champion Mt. Vernon. 

G-C travels to 4A No. 1 New Palestine this week. 

The Cougars have slowly built from going winless in 2018, the year before coach Travis Nolting took over, to two wins, then three, then seven. Now, they're in the Top 10 for the first time since 2002 and spending multiple weeks there for the first time since the program's heyday in the 1970s - when they won the first Class 2A state title in 1973 and were runners-up two years later. 

“Four years ago, we established a direction for where we wanted to go as a program.  We have committed to that direction and will continue to commit to it,” Nolting said. “Consistency has been a large piece of that direction. I have always believed that program consistency yields the best results.  Our seniors have now been in our program for four years and have bought in.  I can't say enough about the hard work they have put in over the past four years making Greenfield football relevant once again.” 

That direction has featured the wishbone offense - a patient, powerful running game that spreads the ball around. It currently features senior fullback Andrew Zellers, who has 655 yards and averages 7.1 yards per carry. Fellow senior Brayden Herrell has tallied 473 yards and 8.0 yards per carry. The Cougars are averaging 348 yards per game on the ground. They rushed for 400 yards in a 35-0 victory over Pendleton Heights Week 4 and 377 yards last week in a 54-7 victory at Shelbyville. 

Defensively, G-C is allowing 198 yards per game and has shut out two foes - Greensburg and Pendleton Heights. The group is led by senior defensive end Brad Allen, who has four sacks and 11 tackles for loss, as well as junior linebacker Jake Hinton, who has 59 tackles. The Cougars have forced 17 takeaways, led by Kirk Knecht’s four interceptions. 

This week features a road trip to county and Hoosier Heritage Conference rival New Palestine, with first place in the league on the line.  

“New Pal is very good. Coach (Kyle) Ralph is one of the best in the state,” Nolting said. “His teams are always well coached and very prepared to play. There are multiple Div. 1 athletes on the field for New Pal which makes them even more dangerous.  

“In order for us to be successful on Friday Night, we can't make mistakes or turn the ball over and have to battle in the trenches all night.” 

Other games of note

  • 6A No. 9 Westfield (3-2) at 6A No. 1 Brownsburg (5-0)
  • 6A No. 10 Lawrence Central (3-2) at 6A No. 2 Center Grove (4-1)
  • Zionsville (4-1) at 6A No. 4 Hamilton Southeastern (5-0)
  • Lawrence North (2-3) at 6A No. 5 Ben Davis (3-2)
  • 5A No. 1 Whiteland (5-0) at Martinsville (4-1)
  • 5A No. 2 Mishawaka (5-0) at Warsaw (4-1)
  • Crown Point (5-0) at 5A No. 5 Valparaiso (4-1)
  • 5A No. 6 Castle (4-1) at 4A No. 9 Evansville Reitz (5-0)
  • 5A No. 8 Harrison (4-1) at Lafayette Jeff (4-1)
  • 4A No. 2 Roncalli (5-0) at No. 8 Brebeuf Jesuit (3-1)
  • Franklin (3-2) at 4A No. 3 Mooresville (5-0)
  • 4A No. 5 East Central (4-1) at South Dearborn (5-0)
  • Benton Central (3-2) at 3A No. 1 West Lafayette (5-0)
  • 3A No. 9 Guerin Catholic (3-2) at 3A No. 2 Indianapolis Bishop Chatard (3-2)
  • 3A No. 3 Gibson Southern (5-0) at Heritage Hills (3-2)
  • 3A No. 4 Tri-West (4-1) at Lebanon (3-2)
  • 3A No. 5 Norwell (5-0) at East Noble (3-2)
  • 2A No. 1 Linton (5-0) at North Daviess (4-1)
  • 2A No. 3 Andrean (3-2) at Hobart (3-2)
  • 2A No. 4 LaVille (5-0) at Knox (3-2)
  • Rensselaer (3-2) at 2A No. 9 Lafayette Catholic (3-2)
 
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(One note - I try to move around the state and hit all classes. This one is a bit more Class A and Central Indiana-heavy. There have been a couple of times, including this week, I've tried to feature big Southwestern Indiana matchups but the coaches have not responded). 

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19 minutes ago, crimsonace1 said:

(One note - I try to move around the state and hit all classes. This one is a bit more Class A and Central Indiana-heavy. There have been a couple of times, including this week, I've tried to feature big Southwestern Indiana matchups but the coaches have not responded). 

SW Indiana gets plenty of talk the way it is on here.  It’s nice reading up on multiple other programs from all around

 

i wouldn’t worry about trying to feature anything in particular…you’re doing great the way it is 

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On 9/21/2022 at 10:52 PM, crimsonace1 said:

Again, this is free-to-use for any newspaper, website or radio station (whether on-air or online). The audio version is downloadable. 

DM me if you want to be added to the weekly mailing list - specify written or audio. 

We enjoy using it in our pregame shows at WBDG.

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