sThe Adams County rivalry will take a second go around on Friday when South Adams and Adams Central meet again, this time for a Regional title. The two teams played in week 6 with the Flying Jets (11-1) dropping their only game of the season to the Starfires (12-0) in Monroe in wet conditions. That game came after a lightning delay on a night were few games were actually played.
Adams Central has won 12 Regional titles with the last one in 2018 while South Adams last winning one in 2012; the Starfires have only ever won two Regional titles.
1. THE FIRST MEETING
What did Adams Central learn the first time they took on South Adams? Mainly, how did they learn to defend the South Adams passing attack? In the first game, James Arnold threw for a school record 471 yards and the Starfires romped after the delay.
That delay also indicates that weather isn’t going to slow South Adams, at least enough. There was a prevailing thought going into that game that rain and natural turf could combine to be a weapon against South Adams. That didn’t happen. So will cold, maybe ice and remaining snow be a weapon in Regional play? Probably not.
2. ADAMS CENTRAL’S RUN IS BETTER
Blake Heyerly showcased his skills in a major way in the first South Adams game and Alex Currie has gotten a lot better in the backfield over the course of the season. The Flying Jets are going to have to try to win this game on the ground and their improved effort and efficiency in that area is a spark of interest. Heyerly is coming off a 174 yard week, but Currie and Joseph Collier can also be strong.
3. IT IS A RIVALRY AFTER ALL
Does everything get thrown out the window in a rivalry game? Adams Central leads the series 23-10 over the past 26 seasons. During that same time, the teams have met in the postseason seven times, with Adams Central leading that series 5-2. But has South Adams had enough of playing little brother overall? Starfire coach Grant Moser went 0-5 against the Flying Jets before his win over them this fall. That 42-14 win was the biggest margin of victory in the series for South Adams since winning by 35 in 2008.
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB JAMES ARNOLD, JUNIOR, SOUTH ADAMS
What can be said about James Arnold that hasn’t already been said? His cannon of an arm has been sharp, but he has impressively made reads all season to options one through five. The Starfires have a lot of weapons and Arnold has had the time and found the time to get the ball to them. He sits on the season at an enormous 2,988 yards passing and has 43 touchdowns versus just five interceptions while breaking about every conceivable South Adams quarterbacking record.
RB/DE BLAKE HEYERLY, SOPHOMORE, ADAMS CENTRAL
Outside the Huddle was warned in the preseason that Heyerly was going to be THE Flying Jet to watch this season. He has become a horse for Adams Central, both in the running game and defensively. He is one of the best two-way players in the ACAC and is going to make an impact on this game one way or another. He recorded eight solo tackles last week in a Sectional title win and is going to be a guy that Moser’s offense should avoid.
MLB GRADY SPRUNGER, SENIOR, SOUTH ADAMS
While the offense at South Adams gets a lot of credit, Sprunger’s role on the defense has been special. The middle linebacker has registered a team best 85 tackles with three sacks. He has a knack for making the right reads and has been crucial in stuffing some pretty solid run games, hence why he is important on Friday night. The last time he played Adams Central, he had 10 tackles and forced a fumble.
RB/WR ALEX CURRIE, SOPHOMORE, ADAMS CENTRAL
Currie gives Adams Central multiple options as he’s had a couple of big rushing games but he is also a threat catching the ball. Currie allows Adams Central to make movements down the field and that is crucial in yardage gains that can keep South Adams’ offense off the field, especially when they key in on Heyerly.
KEYS TO VICTORY – SOUTH ADAMS
1. CHUCK IT
Those were Moser’s words heading into the first meeting, in the rain, about South Adams’ gameplan. Why not do it again? Make Adams Central prove that they have done something different in preparation for facing Arnold again. If your near 3,000 yard quarterback is half as good as he was the first time around, it is a no brainer to throw the ball.
2. IN STUBUER YOU TRUST
When we talk about quality two way players in the area, Nic Stuber often gets overlooked because nagging injuries kept him off the offensive side of the ball much of o the season, including in the first win over Adams Central. Stuber is a workhorse that takes a lot of pressure off a lot of other people on both sides of the ball. Trust in him to make plays and lead you in keeping Adams Central off balance and flustered.
KEYS TO VICTORY – ADAMS CENTRAL
1. BE DIVERSE OFFENSIVELY, WHEN IT MAKES SENSE
The Flying Jets are going to run the football and do so a lot; they did so 53 times last week in a win over Northfield, which was more times than total plays that Northfield ran. But this offense has found good balance most weeks. Dallas Schwaller’s arm gets stronger and Currie, Ben Voirol, Dalton Gerber and Nick Neuenschwander can all get involved to try to keep South Adams guessing some while still relying on the run game that got you to 11-1.
2. FEED OFF THE CROWD
This is a huge home game and few places can put a home crowd in place quite like Monroe. Championship home games are a great advantage to have, so keeping the Monroe faithful happy won’t be hard if you can keep up with their enthusiasm. The hoke team went 15-9 in in Regional finals last season.