INDIANAPOLIS – They're playing in their first football state title game Saturday. They're undefeated and have been beating their opponents by about 40 points a game, with the wide majority of those games ending under a running clock – including last week's semistate championship.
Their team speed jumps out on film. Their pass rush has unnerved opponent after opponent, and they have recorded more than 100 tackles for a loss.
All of that describes the South Adams Starfires (13-0), of course. But it's also true of the Covenant Christian Warriors (14-0), who will play South Adams for the Class A state title at 11 a.m. on Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“There are a lot of times when I feel like I'm looking in the mirror,” Covenant Christian offensive coordinator Evan Cottle said during the state finals press conference Monday. “They line up in a lot of similar formations that we do and do a lot of the same things, so I think it's going to be a high-scoring game, a shoot out, and it might come down to who has the ball last.”
South Adams coach Grant Moser said that Warriors running back Micah Wilson is “by far the fastest we've seen this year.” The senior is averaging 11 yards per carry, and while he has gained more than 100 yards on the ground in just two games so far this year, he had scored 21 touchdowns.
Wilson also has 11 receptions this year for an average of 30.5 yards, and scored touchdowns on five of them.
“He kind of reminds me of D'Wayne Eskridge when he played at Bluffton, with the speed he has and how explosive he is,” Moser said. “And he runs violently. I think first and foremost we have to stop him, but if we stop him they have two or three receivers, as well.”
But it's on defense where the Warriors stand out. Covenant Christian has 24 interceptions this season (just four more than the Starfires), but has also recovered 26 fumbles.
The Warriors defense is 10th in the state with 10.43 points given up per game – not far behind No. 5 South Adams at 9. Covenant Christian has the widest average margin of victory in the state 42.93 points per game. The Starfires are No. 2 at 38.77.
“I am really glad that I don't have to play against our defense. And we've proved the last couple weeks that we can stop the run, and if you can't run the ball on us, and you can't throw the ball on us, you're going to have a tough time scoring,” Cottle said. “And it's both sides of the ball working together. When we're able to put points up quickly and early and we're shutting down the run, their only choice is to go to the passing game. And then those incredible defensive ends, Alex Coleman and Trey Flatt, can just pin their ears back and go after the quarterback. And it's a nightmare.”
One area where the Starfires have the statistical edge is the passing game. James Arnold is completing 68% of his passes (about eight points higher than Warriors quarterback Austin Frazier), and has thrown for 44 touchdowns and just seven interceptions (Frazier has a 38-9 touchdown to interception ratio). South Adams is averaging 266 passing yards per game, almost 100 more per game than the Warriors.
“They have a very aggressive defense,” Arnold said. “We're going to have to take advantage of that and make smart decisions with the football.”
At a glance
Who: South Adams vs. Covenant Christian
What: Class A final
When: 11 a.m. Saturday
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium
Records: South Adams (13-0); Covenant Christian (14-0)
TV: Fox Sports Indiana, in-area streaming on FOX Sports GO app, out-of-area streaming at IHSAATV.org
Radio: 1380 AM