Following Eastside’s narrow 21-19 victory over Adams Central on Friday night, a sweaty Blitz (fur and humidity don’t mesh well) waited for Blazers coach Todd Mason to finish up lambasting his team for missed opportunities to put the Flying Jets away.
“If you want to be a great team, you have to be better,” Mason said.
Minutes later, Blitz corralled a visibly upset Michael Mosser. The Adams Central coach felt as if his team let one get away.
“We are a good team, but we are not a great team yet,” Mosser said.
Talk about déjà vu.
While Eastside emerged with a win in a battle between teams with big postseason aspirations, both teams made their fair share of mistakes, miscues and missed prime opportunities to take command of the game.
For the Blazers, it took a huge two-point conversion attempt stop with less than two minutes to go by Dane Sebert that kept Eastside ahead. Even then, Adams Central didn’t go away as it forced a turnover on downs and moved the ball into Eastside territory before running out of time.
“When you have a chance to step on someone’s throat, you better do it in today’s world,” said Mason immediately after his team’s escape. “That’s one thing I have believed in my whole life, and these guys are scared to death to do it.
“We have to get to a place where we do it, because we had three opportunities to put this game on ice, and we chose not to do it.”
On the other side, Adams Central’s inability to complete drives doomed it on the road on Friday. One drive in the second half stalled after penalties (and a no-call on Eastside) slowed the Flying Jets’ momentum, forcing a field goal attempt that fell short. Another saw Mosser’s squad advance into enemy territory again before a fumble in the red zone cost Adams Central more points.
And those were just the obvious instances of letdowns. Each team had its fair share of missed assignments, blown calls (just ask Mosser about the two-point attempt play call) and players not stepping up when it counted.
Despite no trophy or title on the line on Friday, both coaches were fired up over what could have been.
“I’m very unhappy,” Mosser said. “I am not unhappy we lost, but rather the way we lost. We played good at times, but we shot ourselves in the foot a lot. That’s something we cannot do.
“This team wants to be a great team, but they are a good to average football team at best right now.”
If both coaches sound harsh after what was a phenomenal football game between two of the top lower-class squads in northeast Indiana, it is due to the expectations surrounding both in 2021. For Adams Central, there are aspirations of usurping rival South Adams as the favorite in the north in Class 1A. At Eastside, the Blazers have their sights set on conquering Bishop Luers in the sectional for the second time in three years and make a run at the program’s first ever regional title, if not more.
There were positive signs for both. Dax Holman was a road grater carrying the rock, rushing for 196 yards and a touchdown in the win.
For Adams Central, there were indications that this team can be more than Blake Heyerly and Alex Currie offensively. Quarterback Ryan Black hooked up with Braysen Yergler five times for 100 yards and two scores. The duo first opened the scoring on a nine-yard connection in the first quarter, then brought the Flying Jets within two late with a 36-yard strike.
The positives will surely emerge in the minds of both Mason and Mosser over the weekend, but in the immediate aftermath Friday night, neither were pleased.
Good thing that there is still plenty of improvement to be had and plenty of regular season left to make it happen.
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