By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
When your offense is slowed by a less-than 100 percent quarterback you turn to the defense and special teams.
That is just what the Concord Minutemen did Friday night in a 34-0 win over the Elkhart Central Blue Blazers in a Class 5A high school football sectional championship game at Rice Field.
Concord’s Strike Force defense limited Central’s junior running back Joe Phillips to 32 yards on 19 rushing attempts. That comes just one week after the speedster racked up a school-record 317 yards in a 35-21 win over Goshen in the semifinals.
“We were worried about Central’s speed,” Concord coach Tim Dawson said. “We also told the kids not to take them lightly since four of the six teams they had lost to were playing for sectional championships tonight.
“Defense wins championships and we held Phillips down. That gave us a chance to win.
“We also got good field position tonight thanks to our defense and special teams.”
Concord (9-2) hosts Mishawaka (9-3) next Friday in the regional championship. Mishawaka was a 24-17 winner over Munster in its sectional finale.
Concord’s senior quarterback Trevor Wilmore played, but was not 100 percent for the Minutemen. He sat out last week’s semifinal win with a knee injury.
“It was a gutty performance. We knew he was not going to be 100 percent,” Dawson said. “We asked him to manage the game.”
Wilmore was 14-of-22 passing for 205 yards. He tossed a 43-yard touchdown pass to classmate Chris Martin at 11:44 of the fourth period to gave the Minutemen a 24-0 lead.
Wilmore was not his usual elusive self in the backfield as he was sacked a number of times by the Blazers.
“I didn’t want to do too much. This is the kind of injury that it feels better and I try to do more. That doesn’t work when I try to push it,” Wilmore said.
“This was a big win for the team. My receivers made some big catches tonight.”
Senor wideout Adam Glanders had one of his better games with five receptions for 65 yards. He missed a lot of time early in the season due to an injury.
“Trevor did a great job. He really stepped up his performance tonight,” Glanders said. “He gave us a chance to win.
“I haven’t had the kind of season I was hoping for as a senior, but it is never about me. It’s about the team. I just wanted to do what I could to help the team. Winning a sectional with guys that I have been around for the last four years is amazing.”
Senior Jackson Marlow got the Minutemen on the scoreboard first with a 1-yard run at 1:09 of the first quarter. Wilmore added a 1-yard TD run at 5:58 of the second and junior Ryan Tepe booted a 42-yard field at 1:23 for a 17-0 Concord lead at halftime.
Tepe got a bit of luck on his field goal as the ball hit the crossbar and bounced over.
“You need a little luck like that at times,” Dawson said. “We have been unlucky this year with injuries.”
Tepe also booted a 37-yard field goal with 6:57 left in the game and senior Larry Smith capped the scoring with a 41-yard TD run with 1:34 remaining.
It’s the first time Concord and Central have ever played football.
“This was a special win,” Dawson said. “This was a win over the new opponent and it was for a sectional championship. These kids created a memory that is going to last a lifetime.”
Phillips gained 18 yards on his first carry of the contest, but was shutdown by the Minutemen after that.
“The prep work the coaches put us through this week in practice was fantastic,” senior linebacker Jake Kronk said.
“With a back that has speed like Phillips does you have to stay your lines and not give him a lane to cutback for a TD.
“This was a great win for us and it was for a 5A sectional title.”
“The defense really stepped up and shutdown Phillips,” Glanders said. “The defense was the reason we won this game.”