By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
A coach’s goal is to have his team playing its best during the postseason and that is just what Tim Dawson had the Concord Minutemen doing Friday night in a Class 5A regional championship game with the Mishawaka Cavemen.
The offense executed well and built a 20-0 halftime, the special teams gave the offense good field position and the defense kept the Mishawaka offense out of the end zone until there was 2:21 left to play as the Minutemen drilled the Cavemen 34-14.
“We played well in all three phases of the game. This might be the best overall game we’ve had this season,” the veteran coach said. “I’m so proud of the kids. We told them all week we had to make more plays than Mishawaka and that is just what they did.”
One year ago, the Cavemen ended Concord’s season with a 24-21 heartbreaking loss in the Class 4A semistate.
Concord (10-2) travels to top-ranked Westfield (11-1) next Friday for the semistate and a berth in the state championship game on Friday, Nov. 29 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Westfield was a 36-0 winner over Fort Wayne Snider in the other northern regional Friday night.
“Going to the semistate again with these guys is amazing,” senior Adam Glanders said. “It shows all the hard work has paid off. We are only one step away from our goal of going to state.”
Glanders has been hampered by injuries all year, but stepped into the limelight in a big time way on Friday. The 6-2 wideout snared seven passes for 125 yards and three touchdowns.
“Adam had a great game,” Dawson said. “He needed one like this.”
Glanders went up against shorter defensive back in the Mishawaka lineup.
“I generally have a size advantage since there are not a lot of tall defensive backs,” he said. “We watched a lot of film, but my plan was to go out and play my game. If the ball was thrown in my direction I was going to do all I could to make the catch.”
Glanders is not the only banged up Concord player as senior quarterback Trevor Wilmore is playing with a partial tear of the PCL in his right knee.
“It’s getting better each day,” Wilmore said. “I rested the knee this week in practice. The doctor said it will get better by resting it. Early in the game I was testing the knee to see what I was going to be able to do.”
Wilmore completed 16-of-28 passes for 215 yards and the three TDs to Glanders.
“Adam is one player I can always rely on,” Wilmore said. “It felt good to hook up with him on some passes tonight.”
About his effort Glanders said,” It has never been about me. It has always been about the team.”
Concord jumped out to leads of 10-0 after one period and 20-0 by halftime.
Glanders caught TD passes of 26 yards at 1.9 of the opening quarter and 15 yards at :27 of the second. Junior kicker Ryan Tepe booted a 31-yard field goal at 2:22 of the first period and a 26-yarder at 10:24 of the second.
“Tepe has been a great kicker all season,” Dawson said. “We wanted to get TDs, but those field goals are points on the board. We knew if we got ahead of Mishawaka it would be hard for them to comeback.”
The Minutemen went up 27-0 at 2:19 of the third when senior Jackson Marlow scored on a 10-yard run.
Mishawaka got on the scoreboard at 8:37 of the fourth when senior Adam Trejo scooped up a blocked punt and returned it 45 yards for a TD.
It’s hard for the Cavemen to play catch up ball because of their ball control option offense.
“We spend every second in practice we could working on defending that offense,” Concord’s defensive coordinator Craig Koehler said. “Looking back we may have spent more time than we needed. Playing Plymouth during the season got us ready for the option.
“In the end we told the kids we could give them a thousand different looks, but it still comes down to our ability to get off the blocks and make the tackles. We basically held a good Mishawaka team scoreless.”
Concord’s Strike Force defense caused four turnovers by the Mishawaka offense. Senior Brendan Smith and junior Kevin Moreno recovered fumbles while senior Nick DeFreese and junior Brandon Thomas picked off Cavemen passes.”
The Cavemen keep the ball on the ground and didn’t attempt their first pass until the first drive to start the second half when faced with a fourth-and-19 situation.
“Our kids jumped up the effort on defense,” Dawson said. “When you take the fullback out of that offense it’s pretty significant.”