Pictured is the 2010 South Adams High School football team. The Starfires, who have gone 4-6 in each of their first two years under coach Jason Arnold, will open their season Friday at Eastbrook at 7:30 p.m.
Pictured is the 2010 South Adams High School football team. The Starfires, who have gone 4-6 in each of their first two years under coach Jason Arnold, will open their season Friday at Eastbrook at 7:30 p.m.
Jason Arnold and the South Adams High School football program have a lot of excitement about the coming season.
And the Starfires know the first half of their schedule will provided a stiff test, as it always does.
SAHS faces a brutal opening stretch, starting with a visit to Eastbrook Friday night. The Panthers were 12-1 last season and won a sectional championship before falling to West Lafayette in the regional.
They follow their opener by playing Bellmont, which went 8-4 in 2009 and lost to Eastbrook in the sectional title game. And then, after beginning Allen County Athletic Conference play against Bluffton, the Starfires take on the two largest schools in the league — Heritage (7-4) and Leo (8-2) — in weeks four and five.
So in the first five weeks of the season, Class 1A South Adams faces off against four Class 3A opponents.
“It definitely presents challenges,” said Arnold, whose team has posted a 3-7 record in the opening five games over the last two seasons with two of those wins coming against Bluffton. “We start off with Eastbrook, which is a really good 3A program. And then we have Bellmont, which is two years away from a state championship. …
“So we really start out pretty rough. We talk to the kids about not using that as an excuse … and overcoming some of the adversity we face early on. … We think that just makes us tougher going into sectionals.”
One of the players the Starfires will lean on for leadership this year is senior running back Taylor LeFever. He returns after an impressive junior season, in which he fell just 50 yards short of the 1,000 mark despite missing a game because of illness.
LeFever averaged 6.5 yards per carry and led the squad with seven rushing touchdowns.
“He’ll (also) line up for us in the slot at receiver some,” said Arnold of LeFever, who caught 13 passes for 186 yards last season. “He’s the most dangerous player we have on offense. He’s not a big running back, but he’s very quick, he’s elusive, he’s hard to bring down.”
In addition to LeFever, SAHS will use junior halfback Marcus Rich to run the ball. And the Starfires also bring back No. 2 receiver Taylor Smith, who had 15 receptions for 203 yards a year ago.
He and fellow receiver Kyle Raugh will be catching passes from junior quarterback Dustin Wanner, who steps in for 2009 senior Nick Teeter (94 completions, 1,340 yards).
Cole Farlow, a junior, will be back to block for LeFever at fullback. He also had success as a receiver last season, catching 13 balls for 117 yards.
“Out of all of our players, Cole has probably had the best camp so far,” said Arnold. “He’s really quickly emerging as a vocal leader … and as one of those guys who leads by example.”
Trevor White, a four-year starter, will lead the offensive line from the right guard position.
Tackles Caleb Wurster and Joel Schmidt, guard Cody Conner and center Drew Taylor will join him up front.
Conner, Taylor and Wurster will line up at the three defensive line spots, with Curtis Mitchell, Trevor White, Farlow and Sam Amstutz as the linebackers.
White and Amstutz are the returning defensive leaders, having totaled 43 and 39 tackles respectively last season.
“(Amstutz) is a kid who doesn’t really regard his body very much,” said Arnold. “He’ll hit anyone on the football field and he’ll throw his body anywhere it needs to go.”
The defensive backs for the Starfires will be Caleb Sprunger, LeFever, Raugh and Wanner.
Arnold said the performance of the offensive and defensive lines will hold a major key to his team’s success.
He noted team chemistry is a major strength, and is excited for both this season and next with 33 upper classmen, including 21 juniors, on the roster.
“We’re excited about our football team,” Arnold said. “We think that we have pieces in place where we might be young in some positions, but if we can play to our potential we think we can be a good football team.
“My expectation for this team is to compete. I think we have a team that is hungry. … We talked all camp about setting expectations high and working hard to meet those expectations.”