The Bishop Luers defense was getting worked.
While Blitz was in Berne last Friday watching South Adams and Lafayette Central Catholic, he was getting constant updates from the 2A North Semistate game as Bishop Luers took on Pioneer.
The news was not good.
Using their unique and well-run Wing-T, Pioneer was tearing apart the Knights’ defense in the first half. Jet sweeps and outside runs were carving up Bishop Luers, with the scheme hard-pressed to slow the onslaught down.
By halftime, Pioneer was up 28-7 and both Addai and Ezra Lewellen had each run for well over 100 yards for the Panthers.
So in the locker room, as Knights players fired themselves up to not give up despite down 20-plus, Coach Kyle Lindsay and his defensive staff came up with a second-half game plan.
“We could not contain anything on the outside,” said Lindsay. “So we took away a defensive lineman and inserted another safety whose job was just to shoot the gap and close out on the outside and finish plays.”
It was a relatively simple adjustment, putting an athlete in position to make a play, or at least to filter outside runs to the inside, where reinforcements awaited.
It worked, with Pioneer scoring just six points over the final 16 minutes. In fact, Bishop Luers’ halftime adjustments worked so well that Pioneer coach Adam Berry elected to go for two when his got to within 35-34 in that game. Some questioned it, but it told Blitz that Berry believed that with the way the Knights were playing on defense, his team likely wouldn’t have another shot to score.
Turns out, Pioneer wouldn’t score again in a 42-34 loss.
On the Friday of semistate, South Adams found itself in trouble at Southwood, as Alex Farr attacked the Starfires repeatedly downfield. As every long pass came arcing down, a Southwood receiver was there, making a play on the ball against the smaller corners of South Adams.
While the Starfires were able to answer offensively to keep the game close, Southwood took a 28-21 lead in the closing minutes of the first half.
But Coach Grant Moser’s staff made an adjustment, adding a second deep safety to the defensive backfield. It not only allowed for help over the top on both sides of the field, but also assisted South Adams in providing some underneath help to take away the short passes turning into big gains.
It worked to perfection, as South Adams scored three touchdowns and picked off Farr twice over the final three-plus minutes of the second quarter, turning a seven-point deficit into a 12-point lead by the break.
That adjustment ended up being the difference in a 48-35 victory.
“Their quarterback is so good and he was making us look silly,” said Moser following the game about Farr. “Once we made some personnel and schematic adjustments, it made things a lot more difficult for them.”
Albert Einstein once said, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
A team’s inability to adjust can be its most limiting attribute. Coaches can be hardheaded, not wanting to admit that a game plan that they spent days (sometimes weeks) coming up with simply isn’t working. Some allow pride to get into the way, sticking with certain principles or personnel as if they are a captain willing to go down with the ship.
The lack of adjustments is an epidemic at every level of football. You see it on Saturdays and Sundays, not just under those Friday night lights.
But South Adams and Bishop Luers are different. They both have coaching staffs that can identify issues mid-game and fix them. It may not always be important, particularly when you ooze talent like South Adams and are loaded with confidence like the Knights, but at some point in a run to Lucas Oil Stadium, you need your coaching staff to come through.
Over the last few weeks, both area state final qualifiers have seen that come to fruition.
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