The thing about being a dominant team, sometimes you have to wait a while to be challenged.
That was the case for Adams Central on Friday.
Way back in Week 2, the Flying Jets went on the road to Eastside and faced a stiff test. Not only did they fall two points short of a win, but Coach Michael Mosser was not pleased with his team’s effort and execution. At the time, he knew his team needed to be better.
Fast-forward to Friday at Churubusco. After winning its next seven games after Eastside by an average of 52 points, Adams Central hadn’t had to bring it for a full game for the better part of two months.
So how were the Flying Jets going to respond as they were tested again by an Eagles team that was just as tough and physical as them?
Well, let’s just say that Mosser was actually smiling after AC’s 25-15 victory over Churubusco to open Sectional 44 action in Class 1A.
“We knew all week coming in here it was going to be very similar to Eastside and we had to treat it like that,” said senior Blake Heyerly. “Coming into this game, it was almost like a do-over. We knew we didn’t bring it in Week 2. We came out tonight, played hard and got the job done.”
Whereas lack of execution and toughness cost the Flying Jets back in Week 2, it was both of those things that carried the team to the win in Turtle Town. Churubusco entered the game unafraid of a team that had destroyed opponent after opponent for two months. Following an opening drive touchdown by AC, the Eagles were able to stymie Mosser’s offense for the rest of the half.
Unfortunately for the Eagles, they left opportunities on the table. A fumble by quarterback Riley Buroff inside the 15-yard line killed one drive, while a turnover on downs and an interception ended a pair of promising drives.
By half’s end, the Flying Jets were clinging to a 6-0 lead. Instead of opening the third quarter with a running clock, AC was in a dog fight.
Even to Mosser’s surprise, his team came out firing in the second half, getting a three-and-out that was followed up by a drive capped with a four-yard touchdown run by Heyerly that put Adams Central up 12-0.
“At halftime it wasn’t like, ‘We are gonna do this!’ from our guys,” Mosser said. “They looked like they didn’t know what to do. We were trying to encourage them and I think once they hit the field for the second half, they just flipped a switch.”
But Churubusco didn’t go away. On the ensuing drive the Eagles finally came through as Wyatt Marks tumbled in from two yards out, bringing them within 12-7 last in the third quarter.
Then AC came back again as Ryan Black took it in from five yards out just four minutes into the fourth that turned out to be the clincher. The Flying Jets added another score later and Churubusco connected on a long TD throw from Riley Buroff to Nick Nondorf in the closing minutes of the game, but the Black score effectively put the game away.
“This game was the toughest thing we faced since Eastside,” said Heyerly, who finished with 137 yards and two touchdowns on the ground and 10.5 tackles on defense. “We knew Churubusco was a good, tough team based off of film and they showed it tonight. We knew we had to come out here and be just as physical and keep up with them, that’s what we did.”
Friday’s postgame was a far cry from Week 2. Mosser spent the end zone huddle praising his team for how they answered the challenges of facing “one of the top two or three teams in the north in our class” and beating them on the road.
Even Mosser didn’t know just how it would go on Friday.
“I have been nervous and dreading this game for two weeks because you know it’s going to be a battle and you don’t know if your kids are going to respond,” Mosser said.
And that Eastside game? Yeah, it seems like a long time ago now.
“‘Busco really handed us some adversity to deal with, we knew they would,” Mosser said. “Ryan Black was the man tonight in settling down and running the offense.
“I think at Eastside they smashed us in the mouth and we backed down. Tonight, ‘Busco did the same thing, but we smashed back.”
Adams Central (9-1) moves on to host Southwood (5-5) next Friday in the sectional semis.