Jets want revenge; AC vs. Pioneer Semi-State preview

AC Jets by Chris Tulley
Sports Editor

Revenge is top priority as Adams Central enters a novel territory tonight; the undefeated Jets battle for Semi-State against the Pioneer Panthers. Both teams will enter tonight’s 1A IHSAA matchup 13-0, and while AC proved its worth against then perfect Southwood, this will be the first time this year the team is the underdog. After last week’s win, coach Michael Mosser stressed how much a revenge win against Pioneer would mean to his team.
The last time the Jets faced Pioneer was 2016 when the Panthers won that Semi-State game, only to lose at State. But this is not the same Adams Central team, for the most part. When comparing play styles, both teams put up similar numbers. While the game plans differ, fans tonight will see a short game with few passes as Jets quarterback Parker Bates threw only one pass, resulting in a touchdown, during the win against Monroe Central.
The Panthers have their own version of Bates in Jack Kiser. The senior was 8/9 last week, throwing two touchdowns. With weather conditions and fear of the AC secondary, Kiser will probably only look to his receivers when absolutely necessary. AC’s defense has picked up 397 yards from turnovers off of 11 interceptions and 34 fumbles, while the teams that all lost to AC collectively have 44 yards from D.
Pioneer is a team that averages more points per game than AC, a feat most teams don’t come close to. The Jets light up the scoreboard for 41.3, with most of those coming from running back Jalen Hammond and kicker Bailea Sprunger. Hammond has 20 rushing TD’s this year while Sprunger has remained perfect with 68/68 PATs and six consecutive field goals made. Both of Sprunger’s stats are school records and will hopefully grow tonight.
The Panthers are averaging 64.5 ppg, including the 66-0 Regional win last week over Triton and an 86-0 win over South Newton. Take a second and reread the previous sentence, those are actual numbers. The team has scored 70+ in six games. That 86-0 came against a team that didn’t win a game all year, but that shouldn’t deter from the absolute dominance Pioneer has on the football field. Kiser only threw one TD in that game but five rushers found the end zone.
There’s little need to worry about Bates, Hammond, or the other weapons in Chase Peterson and Logan Macklin. You know that they’re going to score, as long as Macklin holds on to the ball and the pair of running backs sync up with Bates and some relief from Colton Yergler and Ben Voirol. This game is going to be a defensive showdown to determine who should represent the state of Indiana and freshly razed cornfields. Kiser is efficient on defense as well, with more tackles than anyone from Monroe. No team rests on one player, clearly both teams have great talent and respect for the game, but Kiser needs to be contained if AC wants a real shot. Play calling has to be top notch, the D-line must be sharp and energized and the secondary can’t give up big plays.
It’s time for Adams County to layer up and huddle together for warmth and support those freezing Jets in their final game of the far. I, alongside many of you, pray to the ‘86 Chicago Bears defense that Adams Central finds the tenacity to get its revenge. The football expert in me says 45-28 Pioneer, but my hopeful Jet fan side can imagine a 35-33 upset. Either way, Sprunger finishes the season perfect on PATs and this Jets squad will be remembered for years to come.