MONROE – Things aren’t supposed to be easy the second time around. South Adams was the most recent local team to learn that lesson, treading a lot of water Friday night as Adams Central pulled off a 19-7 upset over the Starfires to claim a Regional title in a rematch from earlier this season.
My apologies to Michael Mosser and the Flying Jets. Well, all of our apologies.
It’s not that we are all counted Adams Central out because of something that had to do with them per say, South Adams just hadn’t had an equal all season. But Adams Central did some things and did almost every single one of them well. The Regional title was sweet, but the road to get there was far from easy. After getting blown out by South Adams the first time the two teams met, things were a little more complicated this time. And kudos to Adams Central. The Flying Jets made significant defensive adjustments to counteract South Adams’ attack that broke records the first time the two teams played.
“I don’t think we are anywhere close to being done yet,” said Adams Central quarterback Dallas Schwaller. “The biggest thing was just to play it physical. We just kept saying that this is our game. They haven’t been in a situation like that at halftime and we were just fully ready to come out and shock them.”
The line got off and pressured Starfires quarterback James Arnold a lot more than usual and their core of defensive backs made it difficult for South Adams’ receivers to keep up with Arnold’s long bombs that are always playmakers and back breakers. Arnold was 10-of-25 in the first half for 149 yards, which isn’t so bad unless you compare it to his regular stat line. Joseph Collier helped lead the defensive front of the Flying Jets in getting at Arnold so much more than the first game.
It kept the game even, 7-7 at the half.
The likes of Schwaller, Joshua Mosser, Ben Voirol, Nick Neuenschwander and Alex Currie all pushed the pressure in the defensive backfield and flustered the South Adams passing attack, forcing it into its worst game of the season. Not only was the seven total Starfire points the lowest of the season, it was the only time in single digits, the second time under 20 points and the third under thirty points. It is impossible to imagine – if you have seen the strength of South Adams’ offense – what Adams Central was able to accomplish.
“It just means everything, probably the best feeling I have ever felt,” Schwaller said. “I was telling the boys [before the game] there are going to be few games in your high school career you remember, this is going to be one of them.”
Adams Central actually struck first in the game, making a major fourth down play when Schwaller got the ball to Dalton Gerber down to the opposing 13 yard line to set up Blake Heyerly’s run from one yard out. South Adams answered back immediately with Nic Stuber pushing in on the ground from three yards out at the 3:27 mark of the first quarter.
Stuber’s score was set up by a 27 yard pass to Braden Bixler. But after that score, it was essentially a stalemate for the rest of the half. Or a punting competition, whichever way you want to call it.
Adams Central kept the chain gang active to start the second half, grinding with the ball on the ground to pick up first downs and run time off the clock. They kept the ball out of the hands of the South Adams offense for the first seven minutes and 30 seconds before Heyerly pushed the ball in from five yards out.
With 2:28 left in the quarter after the Starfires had to recover from some penalties for both teams, they were stopped short of a first down after getting the ball past midfield. That turn of events allowed Adams Central to firmly seize momentum and have the chance to keep chopping down the seconds on the clock as South Adams only ran eight plays in the third quarter. During the following drive, the Flying Jets were able to run another seven minutes and 47 seconds off the game clock. Schwaller looked to cap off the drive with 7:20 to go when he found Voirol on the left sideline of the end zone, but the play was called back for holding on Adams Central.
The Jets got another chance on fourth down, where they were 6-of-7 on the night. This successful conversion, with just under seven minutes to play, set up Adams Central on the one yard line where Heyerly put in another score and all the momentum and life seemed to be sucked out of the Starfires.
Heyerly’s big night tallied 151 yards on 33 carries with all three Adams Central touchdowns. The ability for the Flying Jets to pound it out on the ground with he and Currie allowed for a difference of 17 minutes and 56 seconds in time of possession.
“Whatever works, just try it. The plan coming into it was just work hard, play hard and what happens, happens,” Heyerly said.
Schwaller, who made a big rallying of the troops in the huddle before they took the field, also finished things off with an interception of Arnold with 3:45 to play.
Arnold finished the night with 180 yards passing to finish his year with 3,168 passing yards.
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