This brand of Angola football looks familiar.
The Hornets shut down Fairfield for a 39-6 victory Friday night and clinched a share of the NECC Big School Division title. The chance for the outright championship is two weeks away at winless Garrett.
The last time Angola won the NECC Big Division was in 2018, when it completed its second straight undefeated regular season. Those teams were tough, had a bunch of speed and were physical up front.
This year’s Hornet squad isn’t at that level but they are pretty darn good.
This year’s equivalent to Ryan Brandt is Ethan Miller. He came up and blew up several plays against the Falcons. Instead of a Joel McCurdy, the 2022 Hornets have Andre Tagliaferri, who had three touchdowns on Friday, one on the ground and two receiving. It was also going to be hard to replace Luke Honer, but Jake Land does a pretty good impression. Land can fill a gap quickly and you aren’t going anywhere if he gets you in his grasp.
The Hornets defense made life very difficult for Fairfield, which was without its starting quarterback Carter Kitson. Brooks Custer stepped in but had trouble orchestrating the Falcons’ triple-option offense.
Fairfield had difficulty even getting to the mesh point with the full. Carter Shull got to know Custer very well by the end of the night as he met him in the backfield several times. As a team, Angola had 16 tackles for loss, led by Miller with four. Shull, Land and Bradley Bartrom each had two.
“We practiced really hard. We had a physical week of practice, especially on Wednesday. The kids bought into it and played hard. It’s two games in a row where we’ve played physical, hard-nosed football,” Angola coach Andy Thomas said. “You have to when you play these guys. You have to try and make it simple and buttoned up, because they are physical and come at you downhill.”
Angola showed how good it can be when it plays downhill on the first drive of the game. Tagliaferri finished the drive with a 10-yard score.
The Hornets offense had very little trouble moving the ball against Fairfield. They finished with a total of 332 yards of offense while Fairfield was held to just 90.
The ability to move the ball starts with quarterback Tyler Call and is mastery of Angola’s offense. He made the right read just about every time. The one bad decision was an interception in the end zone.
And when the play broke down like it did when he was nearly pulled down for a sack in the second, he got away from the Fairfield tackler and scrambled the other direction for an 18-yard touchdown run.
“He’s really bought in as a senior leader and senior quarterback. He knows our offense inside and out, and we’re leaning on him to get us in the right play,” Thomas said.
Call led the team with 78 rushing yards on 12 carries and was 6-for-10 for 120 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Both of his touchdown throws were right on the money.
Angola nearly had the shutout but Fairfield scored with just a few ticks left on the running clock. A zero on the opposing team’s part of the scoreboard would have been reminiscent of the five different times the 2018 Hornets earned a shutout. But these Hornets will take a dominant victory over last year’s conference champ, because it came with a conference title of their own.
Angola is showing flashes of what they were a few years ago. Can they get all the way back? Highly unlikely, but it’s nice to see them working their way back, which will make them a very tough out in what is shaping up to be a fun Sectional 19.
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