A berth in the state championship is on the line this week with Bishop Dwenger, Bishop Luers and Adams Central looking to represent northeast Indiana next weekend in Indianapolis.
We here at Outside the Huddle will break down each showdown, continuing today with Adams Central and Pioneer.
1. PIONEER IS DOMINANT, PART I
Where to start? The offense has scored 103 touchdowns, including 89 on the ground. It has amassed over 5,200 yards of total offense for the year. Jack Kiser has thrown and rushed for a combined 2,500 yards and 52 touchdowns.
The statistics are mindboggling. The Adams Central defense has not faced a team with half as good of an offense as Pioneer has.
2. PIONEER IS DOMINANT, PART II
The defense? Just as good. It has allowed a TOTAL of 32 points all season. Only three teams have scored a point against them.
Kiser is the leader on defense as well, pacing the Panthers defense in tackles (118) and interceptions (seven).
I truly think Adams Central’s offense can find some success against this team. Pioneer has not played that difficult of a schedule. The Flying Jets will be the best team they have played by far.
3. THE HYPE
With all due respect to North Vermillion and Lutheran, this is considered the 1A state title game. Both AC and Pioneer are much better teams than either south representative.
This game has been moved to Logansport High School, with the turf providing a stable playing field for this one.
Can Adams Central make it a game?
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB JACK KISER, PIONEER
The Notre Dame-bound two-way player does it all for Pioneer. He is one of the most dominant players that Class A has ever seen in this state.
He runs the wing-T to perfection and at 6-foot-2, 212 pounds is both agile enough to avoid defenders and big enough to run over others.
Defensively, his closing spread is freakishly fast and he finishes plays. Oh, he also is the punter, but Pioneer has only punted five times this year.
RB/LB LOGAN MACKLIN, ADAMS CENTRAL
Macklin has had his fair share of big games his entire career, but he will need to be at his best on Friday for Adams Central to have a chance.
You could argue that Macklin and his two-way cohorts will need to come up big on defense more than offense. The Pioneer offense has been unstoppable all year. For AC to have a chance, it must find a way to slow down Kiser and Co. The Flying Jets cannot win a shootout.
RB DANNY GREGORICH, PIONEER
Lost in the Kizer love is Gregorich, who has amassed 1,062 yards and 16 TDs on the ground this season. He is at his best when defenses are keying on Kizer, often being the “forgotten” guy in the backfield, then seen running downfield while Kizer and defenses look on.
Adams Central must account for both Kizer and Gregorich at all times.
QB PARKER BATES, ADAMS CENTRAL
Bates was tremendous in last week’s road win at Monroe Central, finishing with five touchdowns as the Flying Jets rolled.
The pressure will be magnified this week against the top-ranked team in 1A. Bates can’t match Kiser in terms of athletic prowess, but he doesn’t have to. All he needs to do is protect the football and find a way for Adams Central to put up points against the stingiest defense in the state.
KEYS TO VICTORY – ADAMS CENTRAL
1. LIMIT KISER
This is easier said than done, but is paramount if Adams Central has a chance to advance to state. Kiser is tough to take away because he has the ball in his hand every play and can beat you in a variety of different ways. Adams Central’s defensive front has been consistent in getting backfield pressure all year long. It must do so again, but not allow Kiser to break contain and pick up chunk yardage while scrambling.
2. BE HELPED BY PIONEER MISTAKES
If Pioneer plays up to its capability, Adams Central cannot win this game. Harsh? Yes. But it’s also true.
The Flying Jets need the Panthers to shoot themselves in the foot a few times. A few careless turnovers. Missed tackles. A key penalty or two. Maybe even a combination of things that gives Adams Central the edge here and there.
KEYS TO VICTORY – PIONEER
1. SCORE EARLY
Adams Central has thrived on being able to put teams down early and take them out of the game. Pioneer has done the same thing all year long.
The lopsidedness of the Panthers’ games have been a result of many things, but primarily because opponents are so demoralized by quick starts that they cannot hope to put up a fight. Well, that and Pioneer just has a darn good football team.
2. WIN THE BATTLE UP FRONT
Pioneer’s offensive and defensive lines don’t get a lot of attention, but the team’s success is predicated on being successful in the trenches.
Can the Flying Jets find a way to get a push up front and not allow Pioneer to dominate?
Every game starts in the trenches. Pioneer hasn’t been challenged at the position all year long. Could the Flying Jets give them a test?
By now, the Flying Jets have to be tired of hearing just how little chance they have got on Friday.
But it’s tough to ignore the obvious.
Pioneer has scored 103 total touchdowns this year, 89 on the ground.
Jack Kiser is superhuman on both sides of the ball, leading Pioneer in passing, rushing, tackles and INTs.
But there is more to the Panthers’ success. Danny Gregorich is a 1,000-yard rusher. Addai Lewellen averages 11 yards per rush. Calahan Kindley has five touchdowns and 537 yards on just 20 receptions.
Pioneer is dominating 1A in ways we have not seen before.
Adams Central will give the Panthers their toughest game of the year. A quick start, as the Flying Jets have had in most games this year, could catch Pioneer off guard. But over the course of four quarters, the Panthers have too much in this one.
It’s a shame that arguably the best Adams Central team in history (including the 2000 state team) is matched up in the same year with a once-in-a-generation 1A power.
BLITZ PICKS PIONEER BY 13.