OTH GAME OF THE WEEK: South Adams at Bluffton

Each Thursday, check in with us as we highlight the OTH Game of the Week.

While there are a lot of options for Week 3, we head to the ACAC for an always-fun contest between South Adams and Bluffton. The friendly rivalry that has been developed over the last couple of years has made for some solid contests, even in the years in which the scores have been lopsided.

We expect another good one with a lot of offense this Friday night.


More than anything, what is on the line is to avoid taking a loss in the ACAC. The ability to make mistakes are few and far in between in a conference with just six conference games to work with and heavy hitters like Adams Central and Heritage are still looming later in the schedule for both.

A loss this early in the league will put you in the danger zone of falling out of contention for a title.

Five teams in the conference sit at 2-0 but this is the first night that we will get actual conference games being played.

This will also be a chance for these two defenses to earn some credibility. While Bluffton has given up just 20 points in the first two weeks, that is the fifth most in the conference. Meanwhile, South Adams has given up an league-low three points over two weeks. With two high powered offenses (Bluffton leads the ACAC with 103 points), this could be a real chance for one of these defenses to make a big stand to start conference season.

If you follow the Sagarin Ratings, Bluffton sits at No. 2 in Class 2A while South Adams is No. 6 in Class 1A.


South Adams has owned the all-time series with Bluffton beating the Starfires just six times in the past 34 meetings.

While Brent Kunkel tied the Bluffton program’s all-time coaching win record last week, teams he has gone 0-6 all-time against the Starfires; Bluffton has not beaten South Adams since 2015, before Kunkel took over the program.

All of that makes it clear: South Adams owns this history.

Yet, while the Starfires absolutely dominated from 2018-2020, the last two seasons have been a tail of two teams throwing haymakers offensively. South Adams has won both games, but with scores of 42-32 and 50-35, they haven’t been easy wins to come by.

Last season, South Adams opened up the first half big, leading 36-6 at halftime before Bluffton surged back with a 23-point third quarter. The teams combined for 905 yards of offense, led by Owen Wanner throwing for 191 and running for 107 while Maverick Summersett ran in five touchdowns on 105 yards for South Adams. Anthony Cruz led Bluffton with 221 yards on 22 carries. Of those three top performers, only Wanner is back this season.

The last time the two teams played on the turf at Bluffton in 2021, the game stayed close even though the Tigers led only once at 19-14 on a Lukas Hunt touchdown. Hunt was one of the biggest gainers offensively in that game with 182 yards passing and 158 on the ground. But for South Adams, it was Wanner again leading the way as he threw for 255 yards and four touchdowns in the win while Summersett had 10 tackles.

South Adams’ Owen Wanner hands the ball off to Mav Summersett during the first quarter at Bluffton on September 3, 2021.


Owen Wanner, South Adams: If you read the history of this game, you know over the last two years that Owen Wanner has been the best player on the field. In the last two matchups, Wanner has accounted for 581 of South Adams’ 827 offensive yards and with six touchdowns. This season, Wanner has thrown for 224 yards over two games with a 72 percent completion percentage.

Andrew Hunt, Bluffton: Will Bluffton test South Adams through the air? The experience favors the Tigers’ passing game over the Starfires defensive backfield. At the head of that is the seasoned Hunt, who has made some big catches already this season Will he be a big target of Tiger QB Braxton Betancourt?

KEY FOR SOUTH ADAMS: Lead a heavy defensive front

The Starfires have been clutch offensively, giving up just three points so far this season, which came in Week 1 on the turf at Indiana Wesleyan. While Week 2 opponent Bellmont hasn’t scored at all this season, Week 1 foe Tipton did put up 38 points in its second game.

South Adams needs to slow Bluffton’s offense that has scored on every single offensive possession over the first two games. The Starfires have picked off three passes and recovered two fumbles. Conner Fear and Hayden Brown lead the way with 16 tackles each while Luke Bauman has three of the team’s five sacks.

KEY FOR BLUFFTON: Stop the run

It has been a balanced approach for Bluffton in its dominance over the first few games of the season. It has been great against the run, while South Adams has looked to the ground to set the tone (50 carries, 311 yards). The Tigers have allowed just 102 yards on 62 carries (1.6 yards per rush) through two games.


Check back for Blitz’s picks on Thursday to find out!

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