And then there were three.
A trio of northeast Indiana teams will take to the field this Friday just one victory away from playing for a state championship on Thanksgiving weekend.
Outside the Huddle is breaking down each of the semistate showdowns, with Blitz making his pick as well.
Let’s look at Class 1A.
1. PUTTING SA IN REARVIEW
Many are still talking about what Adams Central did last week to its rival, beating South Adams 19-7 in what can be caused an “upset” despite the Flying Jets having just one loss.
Why an upset? Because that one loss for Adams Central was by 28 points to the Starfires in the regular season.
But Adams Central must refocus. You can bet a key message all week long from coaches has been to forget about South Adams, because that game means nothing come Friday against a very good Lafayette Central Catholic team.
If the Flying Jets are still basking in their victory in regional, they will get worked in semistate.
Since Adams Central won the 2000 1A state championship, the Flying Jets are 0-4 in semistate games, most recently last year with a 38-7 loss at Pioneer.
Can Coach Michael Mosser’s team end the skid?
It won’t be easy. LCC has won five semistates (and five state titles) since Adams Central’s magical 2000 campaign. However, the Knights have not went to state since 2015.
3. THE BARRETT-TO-ROACH CONNECTION
Adams Central did a phenomenal job limiting quarterback James Arnold and the South Adams passing game last week. While there was a whole lot of skill in defending the Starfires, there also was a certain amount of luck as Arnold just missed a couple big throws.
This week, the challenge comes from sophomore quarterback Clark Barrett and senior wideout Daniel Roach. The duo have hooked up for 1,000 yards through the air and 11 touchdowns.
Can the Flying Jets once again shut down a vaunted passing attack?
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
QB CLARK BARRETT, SOPHOMORE, LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC
The aforementioned Barrett has killed it in his first season as the starting quarterback for the Knights, throwing for 2,559 yards and 30 touchdowns with nine interceptions.
A pure pocket passer, Barrett is not much of a threat to do much in the run game, which gives Adams Central one less thing to worry about.
Barrett has been electric in the postseason, with 13 touchdown passes and zero interceptions in four games.
RB BLAKE HEYERLY, SOPHOMORE, ADAMS CENTRAL
The Flying Jets have a standout sophomore on offense as well, with Heyerly having quickly emerged as one of the better running backs in northeast Indiana.
Last week, Heyerly rushed 33 times for 151 yards and all three Adams Central touchdowns in the win over South Adams.
Coach Mosser would like nothing more than to eat up clock while running the ball with Heyerly and Alex Currie against LCC.
LB EVAN MUNN, SENIOR, LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC
Amazingly, Munn has played just a single full season of varsity football, but you wouldn’t know it from watching him play.
Munn commands the LCC defense from his linebacker spot while also being a tackling machine, amassing 135 tackles, 24 TFL and nine sacks.
Adams Central will need to plan for Munn and his ability to be disruptive on almost every play.
DE/LB JOE COLLIER, JUNIOR, ADAMS CENTRAL
AC holding South Adams to just a single touchdown last week was nothing short of incredible, especially considering the Starfires put up 42 in the first matchup.
Collier was a big part of last week’s effort. The junior lines up predominantly on the edge as a defensive end, but also can be an outside linebacker depending on scheme. He is quick to read plays and seals the edge against bigger offensive linemen with amazing consistency.
Will the Flying Jets send Collier after Barrett in the backfield or use him to filter plays inside? Maybe a little of both?
KEYS TO VICTORY – ADAMS CENTRAL
1. RIDE THE MOMENTUM
While the Flying Jets do need to forget about the South Adams game, they do need to take the energy and emotion they played with last week into this one. Lafayette Central Catholic is good, but this isn’t a vintage LCC squad of the early to mid 2010s. The Knights are beatable, but home field will give them some advantage.
Basically, if AC carries the momentum ahead from regional to semistate, it has a great shot.
2. ESTABLISH THE RUN
Adams Central quarterback Dallas Schwaller is at his best when he doesn’t need to throw 20-plus times per game. He is a great manager of the offense and can make a throw when needed, but the Flying Jets need to establish the run, much as they did against South Adams.
Grinding out drives and eating up clock are key to a road win at the semistate level against a team the caliber of LCC.
KEYS TO VICTORY – LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC
1. SUCCESSFULLY ATTACK OVER THE TOP
Adams Central can be vulnerable to the deep ball. Even in last week’s win, South Adams failed to convert deep throws more than the Flying Jets successfully defended them.
With Barrett, the Knights are capable to going deep for some big plays offensively. If they can establish those, they can score enough to put the pressure on the AC offense to keep up.
2. BOTTLE UP HEYERLY
Blake Heyerly has been an absolute stud this postseason. The fact that the sophomore can look so good is a testament to the program that Adams Central has built, considering many were writing off the Flying Jets because of the loss to graduation of running back Logan Macklin.
Heyerly and Currie are the lynchpin of the offense. As they go, the Flying Jets go. Can LCC slow the rushing game down?
Your buddy Blitz has been wrong numerous times this season when it comes to Adams Central. No mistake looms larger than last week’s pick of South Adams (of which this bear was not alone).
Some want Blitz to give Adams Central some respect and pick it in this game. But, why jinx things now? Keep proving Blitz wrong and it may just result in a state title.
BLITZ SAYS LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC BY 3.