With just two area teams remaining in the Indiana high school football postseason, Outside the Huddle is breaking down the chances of a northeast Indiana team advancing to Lucas Oil Stadium next weekend.
Today, we look at Lafayette Central Catholic (5-3) taking on host South Adams (12-0).
1. FIRST TIME FOR EVERYTHING
With a victory on Friday, South Adams will advance to its first-ever state championship in football, a feat that is weighing on the minds of everyone in Berne.
With the change in locale from Lafayette to South Adams, it gives the Starfires a distinct home-field advantage. While the crowd will be limited, it will be loud and boisterous as Coach Grant Moser’s team attempts to make history.
2. OWNERS OF 1A
On the other side of this semistate showdown is Lafayette Central Catholic, a program that has won eight state championships – all in Class 1A – and has been a dominant force in the class over the last decade, having captured six of its championships since 2009.
In fact, over the last 11 years, LCC has lost to exactly one 1A program – Pioneer (now in 2A).
The Knights rarely play 1A teams before the playoffs and last year won the championship despite three regular-season losses, the same number LCC had this season.
3. STRENGTH ON STRENGTH
South Adams’ success is predicated off of an offense that creates mismatches with its wealth of playmakers.
LCC does that same, with junior quarterback Clark Barrett having thrown for 1,969 yards and 18 touchdowns over just eight games. That averages out to nearly 250 yards passing per game.
Both teams will surely air it out under the lights on Friday.
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
TREY SCHOCH, JUNIOR, SOUTH ADAMS
The insertion of Schoch into last week’s game on defense changed the dynamic at Southwood. Before the junior came in, Knights QB Alex Farr was burning the South Adams cornerbacks repeatedly. With Schoch in as a second high safety, the Starfires were able to stymie Farr and the Southwood passing attack.
With another opponent that likes to go vertical on tap, Schoch could be the difference again.
CLARK BARRETT, JUNIOR, LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC
Despite still just a junior, Barrett is a leader on a roster that is made up primarily of underclassmen.
As a sophomore, Barrett led LCC to a state championship, throwing 35 touchdowns.
The numbers aren’t as gaudy this year due to limited games, but Barrett has torched 1A foes, throwing 10 touchdowns with two INTs in the playoffs thus far.
JAMES ARNOLD, SENIOR, SOUTH ADAMS
We almost take the kid for granted, but his play in last week’s game, both passing AND running, were critical to success.
Arnold enters Friday with 3,162 yards passing and 41 touchdowns, astounding numbers for any school, let alone 1A South Adams.
The added wrinkle of being able to get out and run as displayed last week shows that, if called upon, Arnold can move the chains with his legs.
SAM SEABURG, SENIOR, LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC
While the back end of the Knights’ defense has some youth, it is anchored by the senior Seaburg at strong safety.
Seaburg is one of just two players who have picked off passes for LCC this season, along with fellow senior Tommy Buskar. While Seaburg isn’t physically intimidating, his ability to help on deep routes will be pivotal.
South Adams receivers are also extremely good at run after catch, making defenders miss in the open field. Seaburg cannot allow deep completions to go for touchdowns.
KEYS TO VICTORY – LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC
1. PUT UP POINTS
Southwood was able to put a scare into South Adams last week by being able to match the Starfires on the scoreboard for most of the first half. But just one touchdown after halftime doomed the Knights in defeat.
This week, LCC will look to keep the scoring barrage going against South Adams for four quarters. That may be the only way to beat the Starfires this season, but the Knights have the ability to do it.
2. PRESSURE ARNOLD
LCC has only been able to notch five sacks through eight games this season, a number that some teams are able to eclipse in a single game.
While the Knights’ linebackers and secondary are good in coverage, they cannot be expected to hold down Drew Stutzman, Aidan Wanner and others indefinitely in coverage. If Arnold is allowed to sit in the pocket and pick apart the defense, LCC is doomed.
KEYS TO VICTORY – SOUTH ADAMS
This shouldn’t be a problem, as the Starfires have been up and ready to play every game this season, but this is semistate against a perennial 1A power.
Not exactly taking on mediocre foes.
South Adams must not look too much into the fact that it is playing LCC. What it is playing is a squad that is between them and Lucas Oil Stadium.
State championships. Winning streaks against 1A foes. None of it matters. All that matters is 48 minutes on the field at South Adams on Friday.
2. MAKE THE PLAYS
Last week, the Starfires made the plays when it counted, hitting on long throws, converting on long throws and picking off passes when presented the opportunity.
As much as Southwood challenged South Adams, this will be a step up. Forget the overall record, LCC is a tough foe. Opportunities will be limited on difference-making plays. The Starfires must convert them at every opportunity.
Blitz will unveil his pick for this game later on Thursday.