By Bryan Ault
Bloomington South head coach Mo Moriarity cites his team’s senior class – all 31 of them – as a big advantage heading into the 2019 season, and especially ahead of a key matchup against Martinsville tonight.
“We are always trying to get better each week,” Moriarity said. “Our goal is play our best football when the tournament gets here and have an opportunity to get as far as we can. We need to get better.”
The two teams met twice in 2018. Martinsville won last year’s regular season contest with a 47-20 score. Bloomington South, however, won their fifth straight sectional title after then-junior Jordan Meeks caught a late touchdown to give the Panthers a 28-25 win in double overtime during the sectional championship game.
Martinsville still poses a threat on the offensive side of the ball, a fact Moriarity realizes and says the team has prepared for.
“Quarterback’s got a strong arm who can throw it a long way,” Moriarity said. “They have two receivers who can really go get it. It is always concern when a team is available to start fast. Offensively they have some weapons. We have to do a good job against that. They are playing hard on defense. They present a big challenge for us.”
“We are preparing the same way we do for every game,” senior wide receiver Sean Azcui said. “Our coaching staff is great at breaking down the film and preparing us for our opponents. We have also been working on correcting the mistakes we made in the first game. We know Martinsville will be ready to play, so we need to take care of the ball.”
Tight end James Bomba said the team has had a solid week of preparation “filled with good energy” heading into the week two game.
“Now it’s time for us to come out ready to play and do our jobs on the field,” Bomba said.
The Artesians put up big numbers in their 40-7 opening week victory over Bedford North Lawrence. Quarterback Xavier Tunitis threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns. Senior receivers Andy Myers and Matthew Thomas caught 99 and 71 yards respectively, with Myers hauling in two touchdowns. Defensive lineman Niegel Bryant, a 6’0” 251 junior, is aware of his own team’s success and acknowledged Bloomington South will be a tough team to beat.
“We can certainly improve on some things,” Bryant said. “All three phases of the game were solid, but we know we can be so much better. We’ve done some different things and are very prepared for Friday’s game. We’ve prepared by looking over last year’s Sectional Championship game film, as well as containing to work on our plays and fundamentals.”
“I think last week was a really good start to the season,” sophomore linebacker Westyn Pemberton said. “We played as a team and gave it everything we had and the score showed that.”
Martinsville’s program has come a long way under third-year head coach Carter Whitson. After winning just one game during both the 2015 and 2016 seasons under Brad Rose, Whitson took over in 2017 and quickly made Martinsville a contender. He led Martinsville to six-straight wins throughout the latter half of 2018 and five straight wins to open the 2018 season. With a Tunitis, Myers, and the 6’4” 205-pound Thomas all seniors and boosted by an impressive group of underclassmen on defense like Pemberton, the sky is the limit for Martinsville in 2019.
“I’m going to do whatever my team needs from me each and every week,” Bryant said. “Whether it’s stating both ways or playing a different position or alignment along the defensive line, I am to do whatever it takes to help my team succeed.”
Bloomington South put up a 34-10 victory over Castle last week and flashed some weapons of their own. Senior running back Maverick Thiery ran for 126 yards and one touchdown off 11 carries, and junior tailback Mason David scored two touchdowns. Azcui snagged four catches for 41 yards and a touchdown. Azcui has an offer from Valparaiso and Butler, and is getting looks from several Division I schools.
“First game of my senior year was so great,” Azcui said. “We had a great crowd and the student section was awesome.”
“The season opener against Castle was great,” Bomba said. “It was awesome to start the season with a big win against a good team. We came out ready to play and jumped on them early. Our defense made big plays and forced turnovers, and the offense turned those into scoring opportunities. A lot of people contributed in a lot of ways.”
A key player Martinsville will have to account for is Bomba, a 6’6” 230 tight end who has committed to Miami-Ohio. He has offers from several other MAC teams, including Bowling Green, Ball State, Central Michigan, Western Michigan and Eastern Michigan. Bomba is a versatile athlete, playing up front on defense and long snapper on special teams. He registered a forced fumble and a sack last week against Castle.
“Our senior class set team goals at the beginning of the summer,” Bomba said. “Our focus at this point is to take it one game at a time and beat Martinsville. Another team goal we have is to get better every week so we are playing our best football come tournament time.”