As we prep for Friday’s Class 1A state championship game between Adams Central (13-1) and Indianapolis Lutheran (14-0), Outside the Huddle thought it would be advantageous to reach out to an expert covering the other side.
Kyle Neddenriep is an award-winning sports writer for The Indianapolis Star, , where he specializes in high school athletics.
We asked Neddenriep to give his insight on the Saints entering Friday.
Make sure to follow Neddenriep on Twitter @Kyle Neddenriep
OTH: What kind of team will Adams Central be dealing with on Friday with Lutheran?
Neddenriep: Lutheran is one of the best programs in our area, regardless of class. Dave Pasch came here from North Putnam in 2008 and took over the program from former Manual coach Ray Schultz, who recently passed away, and has been building it ever since.
Pasch is one of the more highly-respected coaches in our area. This year’s team is pretty typical Lutheran: Great quarterback play and strong on the lines.
Pasch’s son, Jake Pasch, is one of the best players around. He had a big kick return for a touchdown against Covenant Christian to help lead that comeback in the sectional final.
Lutheran plays in the Indiana Crossroads Conference, one of the best small school conferences for football and hasn’t lost a game in the league the last two seasons.
OTH: Montasi Clay is a true dual-threat QB, how does Lutheran utilize him?
Neddenriep: Clay considers himself more of an athlete playing quarterback than an “actual” quarterback, but I think he’s being modest. He has shown this season that he can put a nice touch on the deep ball. He is still the biggest threat on the ground and makes at least one or two highlight runs per game, but Lutheran gets him out of the pocket and lets him throw on the run, too. He’s tough to deal with because he can do both well. He’s also a good basketball player.
OTH: What are the strengths of this team on the defensive side of the ball?
Neddenriep: The defense plays three down linemen and tries to let the linebackers make plays. Jake Pasch is the top tackler at strong safety and linebackers Ethan Hill and Spencer Bauer are next. Lutheran has done well against most of the run-based teams on the schedule like Monrovia and Scecina. Covenant Christian had some success in the sectional through the air, passing for over 300 yards and four TDs.
OTH: How much has Lutheran been helping playing the teams it sees in the Indiana Crossroads?
Neddenriep: As noted above, Indiana Crossroads is one of the best small school conferences for football. Speedway, Scecina, Triton Central and Monrovia are all really strong programs.
OTH: What do you see as being the keys to this matchup on Friday?
Neddenriep: I think it probably comes down to how many big plays Clay makes – or doesn’t make – and Adams Central’s ability to run. It looks to me like this will be a really good game. Obviously, if Adams Central can run, it’s going to keep Clay and that Lutheran offense off the field and have fewer opportunities.