Prep football preseason countdown: #13 SOUTH ADAMS STARFIRES

OUTLOOK

Here’s one of the most amazing statistics in Fort Wayne area football: Last year the South Adams Starfires put together their first back-to-back winning seasons since 2000 and 2001. That’s remarkable considering the Starfires are always a challenging opponent and usually in contention for a Class A sectional title.

This year, they’d like to go for three winning seasons in a row for the first time since they put together six winning seasons in a row from 1989 to 1994, but they also have a bigger goal. They’d like to win the Allen County Athletic Conference title for the first time since 1993.

“Twenty-five years is a long time not to win a conference title,” South Adams coach Grant Moser said. “We want to change that culture here. We want to demand that.”

The Starfires aren’t ducking the challenge, either. They talk about it every day, taking it head-on. There are seven starters back on both sides of the ball, and last year five freshmen and four sophomores played.

“We have all the pieces coming together at the right time, and this is the year we’ve been waiting for,” Moser said.

OFFENSE

There could have been a quarterback controversy, but junior Nic Stuber is switching to running back so sophomore James Arnold takes the full-time spot behind center. Stuber threw for 954 yards last year and could still be dangerous with the halfback option, but Arnold completed 49-of-81 for 729 yards and five touchdowns last year. Stuber threw for 10 scores and ran for five last year.

“Nic is doing a great job,” Moser said. “We love running power with him because he’ll always fall forward for the extra yard.”

Drake Dietsch and Christian Summersett will rotate at fullback with Grant Besser and Nick Miller as the top receiving threats. The Miller and Arnold combo should set all kinds of records by the time they graduate in 2021. Miller caught 27 passes as a freshman.

The offensive line is experienced and very good with guards Grady Spunger and Bryon Hernandez and tackles Brayden Baumer and Spencer Clark returning and all-conference center Andre Hughes transferring in from Bluffton.

DEFENSE

Most of the players will play both sides of the ball.

Miller, Austin Gorney, Caleb Augsberger and Baumer anchor the defensive line with Hughes getting some time at nose tackle. Stuber, Summersett and all-conference pick Sprunger holding the linebacker corps, and all-conference pick Deitsch is the only starter back in the secondary.

“Our pass rush has to be great with some stunts and some blitzes,” Moser said. “We’ve got some sophomore kids who are looking OK at defensive back, but we’ll see how they develop.”

The schedule is much tougher this season with the addition of 2017 semistate squad Monroe Central in Week 5, just ahead of Adams Central, Jay County and Woodlan.

“We wanted to beef up a little bit and get ready for the tournament,” Moser said. “We were 5-0 last year going into AC, and we hadn’t really been challenged at all.”

This year, the Starfires will be a stiff challenge for everyone.

ABOUT THE STARFIRES

2017 record: 7-3

2017 storyline: The Starfires started 5-0 but finished 2-3 with losses to Adams Central and Woodlan and then to Adams Central again in the first game of the sectional. South Adams has combined for 15 wins the past two seasons after going four years in a row without a winning record.

Coach: Grant Moser (16-17 in fourth season)

KEY LOSSES

Mason Sell, OL (All-ACAC)

Andres Martinez, WR (30 receptions, 500 yards, 4 TDs; 39.6 punt average, 34 of 36 PAT)

Joe Stuber, RB (125 rushes, 706 yards, 13 TDs)

Terry Dawn, DB (55 tackles, 2 TFL, 5 INTs)

THE COUNTDOWN

#14 Woodlan Warriors

#15 Northrop Bruins

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