For the third straight week, the marquee game in the area involves a pair of undefeated teams, this time in the ACAC where South Adams travels 15 minutes to Monroe to take on rival Adams Central.
With how both teams have played through the first half of the season, this is a de facto conference championship showdown. But there may be more on the line than just a league title. Both teams have aspirations of a deep run in the playoffs, particularly South Adams with its wealth of talent and experience.
What goes down in Monroe come Friday night? Let’s break this matchup down.
1. TRYING TO SLAY THE KING
Adams Central has ruled this conference for two-plus years, having won 14 straight ACAC contests and 20 consecutive regular-season games overall.
There are a lot of new faces this time around on the Flying Jets’ sideline, but this team has grown up quickly, even quicker than Coach Michael Mosser imagined.
To be the best, you need to beat the best. That is what South Adams is trying to accomplish on the road on Friday.
2. SOUTH ADAMS’ DOMINANCE
The Starfires have amassed nearly 2,200 total yards in five victories, an astounding number. The running game is averaging 6.8 yards per rush, while Aidan Wanner and James Arnold have thrown a combined 22 touchdowns against just a pair of interceptions.
South Adams has weapons all over the field, with its four- and five-wide sets causing all sorts of trouble for defenses.
Adams Central’s chances in this game are directly tied to how much the Flying Jets can slow down their rival’s offensive attack.
3. THE END OF A STREAK?
Adams Central has won six straight in the series, with most of those victories being lopsided affairs.
Last season also saw these teams both undefeated when meeting in Week 6. It was not much of a contest as the Flying Jets won in a 49-12 rout.
In 2017, the programs took each other on twice, with Adams Central winning by 28 in the regular season and 21 in the playoffs.
Long story short, South Adams has not had what it takes to hang with the Flying Jets the last few years. Is that about to change?
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
WR/DE NICK MILLER, JUNIOR, SOUTH ADAMS
Miller has been steady for the Starfires on offense at his wide receiver spot (247 yards receiving, 4 TDs), but he has been truly disruptive on the other side of the ball at defensive end.
The junior has amassed 29 tackles, 10 TFL and 2.5 sacks for South Adams. He has also forced a pair of fumbles. Miller is as disruptive as they come for a defense that is allowing just over a touchdown per contest.
QB DALLAS SCHWALLER, SENIOR, ADAMS CENTRAL
When Parker Bates moved on after last season, many wondering how Adams Central could possibly continue their program without a Bates behind center (brother Hunter manned the position before Parker).
OK, a bit of an exaggeration there, but the fact was that Schwaller was an unknown coming into the year. All he has done is made the plays and led an offense that is scoring at a 32 points per game clip.
Schwaller needs to make some big-time plays on Friday night for the Flying Jets. If AC is going to win this, it will have to match South Adams on the scoreboard.
QB JAMES ARNOLD, JUNIOR, SOUTH ADAMS
Arnold may very well be the most overlooked player in the area, let alone at the quarterback spot.
All the junior has done is throw for 987 yards and 17 touchdowns in FOUR GAMES. Like, seriously. After sitting out Week 1, Miller has been phenomenal in making all the throws and getting the ball to playmakers in a position to succeed.
DE BEN VOIROL, SENIOR, ADAMS CENTRAL
Sealing the edge and putting pressure on Arnold in the pocket may be the most important aspect of the game heading into Friday for Adams Central. If Arnold is under duress, he will have a tougher time getting the ball to the outside receivers where South Adams thrives.
Voirol has been through the wars of the last few years with this team, entering the season as one of only a couple players who had significant experiences. He and junior Joseph Collier at the other D-end position will need to shine in this one.
KEYS TO VICTORY – SOUTH ADAMS
1. KEEP THE OFFENSE HUMMING
No one in the ACAC can hang with South Adams if the offense is running as effectively as it has through five weeks. The Starfires put up 70 points in the first half against Heritage a few weeks ago and could easily have scored 150 in the game if they wanted to.
Think about that. 150 points.
Dominance like that isn’t going to be seen on Friday, but if South Adams can continue to sling it around the field with Arnold and move the chains with running back Nic Stuber (who will back fro minjury), Adams Central is going to have a tough time hanging around.
2. IGNORE THE PAST
We here at OTH have been quick to mention just how dominant Adams Central has been in the recent past against South Adams. That won’t matter on Friday, nor should it. The key for Starfires coach Grant Moser is to make sure his team KNOWS that the past is the past.
South Adams has the chance to hit the reset button in this series and carve out some dominance of its own. Can it do it at Monroe, which will surely have a packed crowd?
KEYS TO VICTORY – ADAMS CENTRAL
1. LIMIT THE PLAYMAKERS
Can Adams Central’s secondary and linebackers stay with the wealth of studs South Adams will deploy in the slot and the outside? No one has been able to thus far.
But the Flying Jets may not have to. If the bookends of AC and the rest of the front 7 can disrupt the flow of Arnold and the offense with pressure, it could force the quarterback into mistakes. The Flying Jets earning a short field or two would be huge in this one.
2. PLAY KEEPAWAY
The best defense against the South Adams O? It may very well be ball control. Adams Central will try and establish the run with the likes of sophomores Blake Heyerly and Alex Currie as well as junior Mason Deroo.
Long, time-consuming drives that result in points will not only limit the possessions of South Adams, but also put some pressure on the Starfires to maximize their offensive chances, which may force them into some miscues.