BERNE – James Arnold held the ball high above his head as his teammates swarmed around him, then threw it up in the air in celebration.
Braden Bixler vaulted in the air and turned a full 360 degrees as he made his way through the swarm enveloping the field.
Christian Summersett found Coach Grant Moser and embraced his head coach.
The celebration following South Adams’ 42-9 dismantling of Lafayette Central Catholic on Friday in Berne took on a lot of different forms, but it all centered around one irrefutable fact – the Starfires are heading to the state championship for the first time in program history.
With some missed opportunities in the first half and Lafayette Central Catholic (5-4) displaying enough offense prowess to remain dangerous, South Adams took a thin 14-3 lead into the halftime break with the game still in the balance.
But as Blitz has seen so many times before, the Starfires put together a monstrous run in the third quarter in a short period of time – scoring four times in less than eight minutes to effectively put away the defending 1A state champions.
“We are lightning in a bottle offensively,” Moser said. “If it doesn’t come early, we have to be patient, we know it will come. You saw in the first half we scored 14 and left some points out there, but we came up huge after halftime.”
It was a fitting night for a team that has been reminded countless times over the last 12 months how it let 2019 get away, losing to Adams Central in regional action.
But there was not going to be a repeat this year. The players were too focused, too determined, too hungry to have another letdown. The latest example of that was Friday, with South Adams being the first team in Class 1A outside of Pioneer to beat Lafayette Central Catholic in over a decade.
“We put in a ton of work, I don’t think people realize how much we did on our own during quarantine,” Arnold said.
Thrashing through this season while steering clear of Covid has been a delicate balance, but the Starfires (13-0) pulled it off week after week. The class of 16 seniors has been at the forefront, remembering last season but also putting it in the rearview, focused on one more opportunity to put together a special season in Berne.
The class has accomplished it as being the first group of seniors to get the football to Indianapolis for the state finals.
What has happened over the past few years, from the development to the heartbreak to the dedication, culminated on Friday as the class played its final game at home.
“It is absolutely everything to our community,” Arnold said. “I can’t go five minutes in the hallways at school without a teacher or student coming up telling me their plans for tonight, how excited they are. Everywhere you go in town there are signs up and stuff on the doors, our community means so much, I am so excited to do this for them.”
The Starfires accumulated nearly 500 yards of total offense against LCC on Friday. Once South Adams was able to get on track offensively, the Knights did not have a chance. The powerful 1A team that is bumping up to 2A next year due to success factor looked completely outclassed by the Starfires, who are now one win away from achieving the pinnacle goal of the program.
But worrying about Covenant Christian (14-0) is discussion for another day.
Friday night, in the chill dampness of rural Indiana in November, South Adams made history on its home field against one of the top programs in its class in the entire state.
For that, we celebrate…and always remember.
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