By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The past two wins by Concord over the Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger Saints have given the Minutemen chances to play for a high school state football championship.
The Minutemen (10-2) will be seeking to keep this year’s playoff drive alive when they square off in a 4A regional championship with the Saints (6-6) Friday night at Zollner Stadium in Fort Wayne. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m.
“Once you hit the sectional championships there are no upsets in the tourney,” Concord coach Tim Dawson said. “Dwenger’s record is deceiving. Four of the six games Dwenger has lost are to teams still in the playoffs.”
Those four are Indianapolis Cathedral, Indianapolis Chatard, Fort Wayne Snider and Fort Wayne Luers. The other two losses were to Fort Wayne North that finished 9-3 after losing to Snider in the sectional championship and Fort Wayne Northrop that ended 4-6 after losing to North in the sectional semifinals.
“This is your typical Dwenger team,” Dawson said. “They are fundamentally sound and a program with a lot of tradition. Dwenger has done what they have needed to do in the playoffs.
“I think the game will come down to three things. One is which team does the most with the field position they are able to get, which team wins the turnover battle and which team’s playmakers made this most plays. We are going to need all of our skill kids to have great games.”
Concord defeated Dwenger 21-12 in 1984 and 48-21 in 2006. The Minutemen went on to play Brownsburg (17-12 loss) in the 1984 AAA state championship and Cathedral (38-14 in 2006) in the 4A state finale.
Dwenger’s wins were in 1985 (42-7) and 2002 (40-12).
Concord is going for its fourth regional championship. Others were in 1984 (3A), 1998 (4A) and 2006 (4A). Dwenger has won a total of 17 regionals, the last in 2010.
Concord would either host Mishawaka or travel to Hammond Morton on Friday, Nov. 16 for the semistate.
The current Minutemen are averaging 35.2 points per game on offense compared to 18.2 for the Saints.
“We have to play better this week on offense,” Dawson said. “We had some chances in the first half of last week’s game we didn’t take advantage of. We need to eliminate some of the penalties. The subjective ones like holding there’s not much we can do about them. We had a couple of illegal motion flags last week. Those are a lack of focus and are drive killers.”
“Concord is a scary team,” Dwenger coach Chris Svarczkopf said. “They have a good running back, quarterback, tight end and split end. They have a lot of weapons and can score a lot of points in a hurry.
““We have been getting better each week. We have been devastated with injuries, having lost several key players for the season.”
The Saints are 116-30 in Svarczkopf’s 11th season at the school. He’s never had a losing season and he guided the Saints to four straight seasons (2007-10) where the Saints had just one loss. Two of those four losses were in the semistate and two in the state championship.
Leading rushers for the Minutemen are 6-2 (230) senior DuWhan Alford with 1,038 yards on 146 carries (7.1 yards per carry) and 6-0 (171) junior Trevor Wilmore 735 on 91 (8.1). Alford has 14 rushing TDs and Wilmore 11.
Alford tweaked a knee in the first half of team’s win last week over Wawasee. He sat out the second half.
“I would say he is probable for this week,” Dawson said. “We held him out of practice the first couple of days this week, but he says he is ready to go.”
Wilmore is 65-of-115 passing for 900 yards with eight TDs and three interceptions since taking over the role as the starting quarterback.
“We need Trevor to play a little more consistent,” Dawson said. “Last week was his first championship game and he missed some reads.
Top receivers for Concord are 6-2 (172) junior Adam Glanders with 50 catches for 828 yards (16.6 yards per catch) and nine TDs, 6-2 (185) senior Dakota Simon 31 for 448 (14.5) and three scores and 6-5 (240) senior Franko House 30 for 308 (10.3) and three scores.
Six-foot (180) sophomore Ryan Tepe is the Concord placekicker. He is 50-of-53 on PATs and 5-of-11 on field goals. He is 1-of-1 on field goals from 20-29 yards, 3-of-7 from 30-39, 1-of-2 from 40-49 and 0-of-1 from 50 or more.
Six-three (235) senior Ryan McKibbin is the punter for the Minutemen. He is averaging 36.6 yards on 41 punts.
He has a long of 56 yards and has pinned the opposing team inside the 20-yard line on 12 occasions.
Concord’s “Strike Force” defense is led by 5-9 (175) senior Taylor Miller with 38 tackles and 45 assists, 5-9 (188) senior Dallas Maynard 36 and 45, House 28 and 34, 5-11 (178) sophomore Brandon Thomas 34 and 20 and 6-1 (215) junior Michael McQueen 28 and 25.
The Minutemen have intercepted an impressive 22 passes this season. Miller and Thomas lead with five picks apiece. Five-nine (150) senior Desmond Love and Wilmore both have three.
Dwenger’s leading rushers are 6-0 (220) sophomore D’Marcus Moore with 1,009 yards on 217 carries (4.6 average) and 5-9 (156) sophomore quarterback Cody Miller 247 on 97 (1.6). Miller is 80-of-160 passing for 1,197 yards with eight TDs and two interceptions.
The leading pass catchers are 6-2 (187) junior tight end Ryan Watercutter 50 receptions for 875 yards (17.5 average), 6-6 (200) junior wideout Keenan Centlivre 17 for 199 yards (11.7) and 5-8 (143) classmate Gabriel Espinoza 14 for 168 (12.0).
Moore leads the team in scoring with 10 TDs while Watercutter has seven.
“Dwenger is an option team and we have faced option teams before,” Dawson said. “One difference is they run more option out of the shotgun formation.”
The Saints have used three placekickers. Five-ten (154) junior Trey Casaburo is 11-of-12 on PATs and 1-of-1 on field goals, 6-2 (158) junior Stephen Colligan 10-of-10 on PATs and 5-10 (148) senior Ben Kosiarek 3-of-6.
Defensive leaders for Dwenger are 6-0 (194) senior linebacker Ben Evans 80 tackles, 5-8 (169) junior linebacker Tyler Tippmann 73, 6-1 (185) junior end Gus Pelkington 70 and 6-1 (175) junior defensive back Gus Schrader 60.
Watercutter has a team-high five interceptions and Pelkington leads with three fumble recoveries.