WABASH – In a month in which many Americans are openly calling for a return to the way things used to be, it was only fitting that Adams Central beat Southwood 23-7 in the IHSAA Class A Football Regional Friday in front of a standing-room-only stadium in Wabash.
The modern football offense calls for spreading the field and throwing the ball all over the place, while a “3-yards and a cloud of dust” attack is viewed as archaic.
History dominated in this game, as the Flying Jets (12-1) ran for 224 yards and didn’t complete a single pass, but owned the Knights (9-4) in every way imaginable. Conversely, Southwood gained just 10 yards on the ground and lost handily.
“Offensively, we had to be able to sustain drives,” veteran coach Michael Mosser said. “We had to be able to drain the clock and score points and we did that.”
The play calling wasn’t complicated for Adams Central. The Flying Jets ran 64 offensive plays and on almost half of those (30) Mosser simply said “Give it to Schultz.”
That would be 240-pound junior bulldozer Drew Schultz, who gained 125 yards – despite the Southwood defense knowing full well that he was coming – and scored three times.
“Our (offensive) line play dominated,” Mosser said. “That was really the thing that got us going.”
Complimenting the brute strength of Schultz was the intellect and athleticism of senior quarterback Andrew Hammond, according to Mosser.
Hammond didn’t complete either of his two passes, but he ran for 72 yards and his coach explained that Hammond did so much more that didn’t show up in the box score.
“Andrew showed his leadership,” Mosser said. “He was able to sustain our offense and get the offense able to do the things that it was able to do.”
The Flying Jets “sustained drives” to the point in which they dominated the time of possession 32:28 to 15:25.
Adams Central was magnificent offensively, but to give all the credit to that side of the ball would be telling just a half of, make that one-third of, this story. For Mosser’s team was every bit as stellar both defensively, as well as in special teams.
Southwood had averaged over 400 yards of offense and 36 points per game before Friday and it didn’t get close to either against the Adams Central defense.
Though the Knights had opportunities.
With 10-plus minutes remaining, the Knights trailed just 16-7 and were driving to tie the game. On a fourth-and-2 at mid-field, Southwood junior quarterback Carson Blair dropped back to pass, but was flushed out of the pocket – which was the theme of the night – and tried to scramble for a first down to keep his team alive. He needed just six feet, but the Flying Jets’ defense allowed him just five.
“We had to be able to get to their quarterback and prevent him from making plays,” Mosser said.
Blair was able to make some plays, but not many, which given the context of Blair’s season, was startling to the Knights’ fans.
Blair had completed over 200 passes for 3,261 yards and 43 touchdowns this season, but he was often under duress from Adams Central defenders Jantz Blackburn, Logan Macklin, Tyler Lafontaine, and Brandon Schoeneman, who combined for three sacks and a horde of pressures. Blackburn and Gabe Schwaller combined for over 10 tackles to pace the Adams Central defense.
“That is what we needed to be able to do,” Mosser said. “We threw him off his game a little bit. He wasn’t able to do what he was able to do last week (in a sectional win over LaVille).”
Even when Blair (23 of 39 for 196 yards, one score and one pick) did get rid of the ball to a Knight receiver, the play ended – completion or not – with an Adams Central defender laying a serious lick on the opposition.
Southwood had one last opportunity with less than five minutes remaining and still in a one-score game, but the Adams Central defense forced a three-and-out, which was aided by Knight receiver Peyton Trexler dropping a beautifully-thrown deep ball from Blair on fourth down.
While the offense and defense was excelling for the Flying Jets, the special teams – notably senior punter Skylar Douglas – was also having a tremendous night. Yes, he punted just two times for a 33.5 yard average, but both of those forced the potent Southwood offense to start drives inside their own 10-yard line, as Douglas perfectly placed the kicks.
“Our guys did everything that we needed to be able to do,” Mosser said.
The Flying Jets will host Pioneer (13-0) Friday at 7 p.m. The Panthers knocked off defending Class A state champion Lafayette Central Catholic 28-27 Friday.
The regional title is the first for Adams Central since the 2005 season.