There is the school of thought that this is a down week among area and games. Even with South Adams struggling more than its 4-1 mark may suggest, we can’t ignore what is arguably the best rivalry game in all of northeast Indiana.
These teams have traded blows the last few seasons, but last year it was all South Adams, beating out its rivals from Monroe in the regular season prior to the run to the Class 1A state title game.
Now that Adams Central has state title aspirations and momentum of its own, it is going to want to even the score.
It isn’t always a game in Adams County when these two meet and one where you can never count either team out. It also helps that this is pretty clearly the game that will decide the ACAC in 2021.
THE MAJOR PLAYERS
MAVERICK SUMMERSETT, SOUTH ADAMS
You will see this several times in this preview because it may be the most damning mark of South Adams’ shutout loss to Monroe Central last week: the Starfires ran for -12 yards.
Not throwing leading rusher Summersett under the bus for that. Not only does he have 57 rushes for 273 yards on the season, he was actually in positive yardage last week with 15 yards on 12 carries. Those numbers aren’t great but Summersett is critical in getting the running game back on track against a stout defense. He is going to have to be a real hard charger against AC.
Where Summersett may take an even bigger swipe at the Flying Jets is on defense, where he leads the Starfires with 58 tackles (11.6 per game). He has become a big hitter that is constantly in on plays. With AC relying on some real speed up front, Summersett’s ability to pursue is something to watch on Friday.
BRAYSEN YERGLER, ADAMS CENTRAL
One of the things that makes this Adams Central team unique offensively is that it has no issue going to the air when need be. In recent years, the Flying Jets have handled the ground game well but have had no significant threat through the air. Yergler had zero catches in last week’s win over Heritage, yet after his five catches for 100 yards against Eastside in Week 2, he has been high on some area radars for chipping in over the top.
Yergler has catches in three of AC’s five games this season and that is big for spreading out defenses. He himself has also been active on the defensive side as well so expect this two-way player to make a difference any way he can against the county rival.
KEN RICHARDSON, SOUTH ADAMS
Like Summersett, Richardson too averages double-digit tackles per game (10.6). He has been a big hitter for this team, laying down some hard collisions along the way. The senior outside linebacker had nine solo tackles and a big sack a couple of weeks back against Bluffton where his effort was big in stopping the Tigers’ hopes of moving the ball on the ground.
Outside of the Eastside loss, AC has fumbled four times this season and lost just one of those, but Richardson has made himself out to be pretty strong at getting the ball loose. As South Adams searches for ways to counter what has become a big yardage, high-octane Adams Central run game, Richardson is the guy who will need to be locked in. He has forced two fumbles and recovered two fumbles this season.
BLAKE HEYERLY, ADAMS CENTRAL
Nothing has changed about how much of a beast that Heyerly can be other than the fact that he’s far from a secret at this point. Offensively, he is just part of a multi-headed running game, but his power back tendencies make him a tough matchup for ailing defenses and he has been able to carve up some ACAC opponents this year. He is going to get you his 60-80 yards (or more) in a game by just being a bully.
Heyerly’s real asset is on the defensive side of the ball. He makes really good reads and often leads the Flying Jets in tackles, including eight last week in a blowout of Heritage. He has registered 32 tackles this season and is a feared linebacker across the conference.
HOW SOUTH ADAMS WINS
Belief goes a long way. South Adams needs to believe it can win this game. Will a positive mental attitude win the game on its own? Of course not, but its a start. There can’t be any thoughts of being down players or any leftover emotions from last week’s shutout loss. Instead, the Starfires need to go into Monroe and plan to take out any frustrations on their rivals. Setting things straight mentally is the first step into getting the adrenaline pumping on the field.
The Starfires just have to be quick on Friday night. With a rainy week in the rearview by then, what the natural playing surface is like at Adams Central could play a role, but South Adams needs to find a way to be the quicker team, which is no easy task. Their linebackers have to make quicker reads, their defensive linemen need to make quicker attacks, their receivers need to turn on the jets and the run game has to excel.
HOW ADAMS CENTRAL WINS
Win in the trenches on defense. It isn’t hard, the Flying Jets have done it more often than not this season. Take the Eastside game out of the equation and Adams Central is giving up just 68.75 yards rushing per game. That total yardage of 275 rushing yards by Bellmont, Parke Heritage, Jay County and Heritage is lower than the total rushing yards given up in the one loss.
On paper, it seems simple: stop the run and win. AC will need to be hyper focused on that this week against a South Adams team that knows it needs to improve the run game after going for negative-12 yards as a team last week.
And that defense is critical. South Adams has been a high-powered offense for years and last week was the first real indication that maybe it cannot be that consistently this season. So Adams Central’s goal needs to be to break the Starfires’ will. Scoring helps, sure, but it will take a high-end defensive effort to really shut down South Adams and win this big rivalry game.
Check back in later today for Blitz’s weekly picks!