BERNE — “It’s a game of momentum,” Churubusco head coach Lee Etzler said. “It’s huge in the high school ranks. We’ve got to weather the storm when things aren’t going real well.”
A cold and snowy Friday night greeted Churubusco in the class A sectional championship at South Adams.
The defense of the Starfires helped put ’Busco in a snowfilled hole early, 14-0. Then the Eagles caught a fever from junior running back Josh LeFever and scored 27 unanswered points in the second half to propel them to a 43-21 victory and claim their second sectional title in four seasons.
“In the beginning they were shutting down the inside run so we mixed it up a little bit, got to the outside,” LeFever stated. “We just took what they were giving us and got the momentum going.”
It was the relatively unknown LeFever that was the main threat on offense for Churubusco. The entire season LeFever came second to senior Kyle Mathewson in the backfield. However, despite Mathewson’s 131 yards and two TDs on the ground, Friday night it was LeFever that rallied the Eagles with 120 rushing yards to go with his two touchdowns and two two-point conversions.
“We needed to spread the ball around a little bit,” Etzler noted. “He (LeFever) played real well. It was a team effort and it needs to be to have success.”
After two rushing touchdowns by the Starfires on just six plays in the first quarter, and three straight possessions on offense that resulted in punts, Churubusco found itself in a hole.
With the Starfires' focus on fullback Mathewson early on and trailing 14-0, ’Busco turned to LeFever.
Just before the end of the first quarter, the Eagles, who were still without a first down, ended the offensive dry spell with a 61-yard touchdown run from LeFever down the sidelines with 36.8 seconds left.
The spark was lit for the Churubusco offense. Despite being down 21-16 at halftime, the Eagles held South Adams scoreless in the second half as the defense finished what the offense started.
Three possessions in the third quarter resulted in two punts and a fumble on a punt return for the Starfires.
Again, Churubusco used Mathewson to draw Adams defenders. The distraction allowed LeFever to cut to the outside for his second touchdown of the night giving ’Busco its first lead of the game at the time 24-21.
The lead continued to grow with quarterback Kyle Monk earning his yards on the rollout. The senior QB added a six-yard rushing touchdown at the end of the third quarter to his game of three converted two-point tries.
“I was kind of worried there in the first half but I think we came together in the second half,” Monk noted. “We figured out what we needed to do, came out in the second half and were a whole different team. Everyone did what they had to do both defensively and offensively.”
South Adams couldn’t find the same groove from the first quarter in the second half. One first down was all the Starfires could produce with a turnover on downs in ’Busco territory sealing the Starfires fate.
“The cold weather, we talked about, if we hit them harder then they hit us they’ll feel the cold weather more than what we will,” Etzler said.
It’s the second sectional championship for the Churubusco 10-man senior class. As freshmen those players were a small part of the 2007 semistate team.
As leaders now, those Eagles host an undefeated Hagerstown (12-0) team that beat out Knightstown 37-20 Friday night for the regional round.