By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
And then there was one.
The Concord Minutemen are the lone surviving area high school football team in the IHSAA state tournament and are one victory shy of their ultimate goal.
Concord (10-2) squares off with the top-ranked Westfield Shamrocks (11-1) next Friday night. Kickoff is slated for 7:30 p.m. at Westfield.
The winner advances to the Class 5A state championship game on Friday, Nov. 29 at 7:30 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
“We’re one win away from the oil can,” Concord coach Tim Dawson said after Friday’s 34-14 regional win over Mishawaka.
The Minutemen are seeking their fourth semistate championship while Westfield is going after its second.
Concord has won five straight games since suffering back-to-back losses to Jimtown (35-14) and Plymouth (42-39) in Weeks 6 and 7. The Shamrocks have won nine in a row since their lone loss back in Week 3 to Fishers by a 48-45 score in three overtime.
Both teams can put points on the scoreboard as the Minutemen are averaging 34.9 per game and Westfield 34.1. Concord yields 13.6 per game on defense compared to 17.7 for the Shamrocks.
The win over Mishawaka was the 176th in Dawson’s 25 seasons guiding the Minutemen. The coach has turned the Minutemen program into a local powerhouse as Concord has not had a losing season since 2003 when the Minutemen finished 4-6.
Dawson has taken the Minutemen to two of three state championship games.
Concord’s first state appearance was in 1984 in the final season on Tom Conn’s eight seasons leading the Minutemen. He had a career mark of 65-23 at the school.
In 1984, Concord finished the regular season 7-3. The Minutemen defeated South Bend St. Joseph 14-7, Griffith 10-0 and Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger 21-12 to reach to the 3A state championship before the season ended with a 17-12 loss to Brownsburg.
Leading scorers for the Minutemen in the 1984 season were Dwayne O’Connor 40 points, Brian Richmond 36, Steve Papandrea 30, Scott DeShone and Brian Hansen both 24.
Dawson’s first trip to the state finals was in 1998 after a 5-4 finish in the regular season. The Minutemen began the 4A state playoffs by defeating Goshen 28-14 after losing to the Redskins 27-10 during the season. The team then topped South Bend Adams 40-20 and Elkhart Memorial 31-10 to win the sectional. The Minutemen survived a 35-28 thriller over Carroll in the regional and defeated Plymouth 35-14 for the semistate crown. Concord had lost to the Rockies 27-10 during the season. Indianapolis Cathedral ended the team’s quest for a state title with a 38-7 defeat in the championship contest.
The leading scorer on the season was Rickey McKenzie with 144 points (24 touchdowns). Kicker Brant Fowler had 65 points (seven field goals and 44 PATs), Josh Staley 54, Stephen Lyon and Daniel Martin 30 apiece.
McKenzie rushed for a school-record 1,757 yards on 289 carries (6.1 average).
Concord’s last trip to the state finals came in the final season of the Cira brothers. The Minutemen posted a season record of 14-1 and outscored opponents by an impressive 620-225 margin.
Quarterback Bob Cira put up mind-boggling numbers in the special season with 241 completions in 359 passing attempts (67.1 percent) for 3,931 yards and a staggering 46 TDs. Twenty of his TD passes were during the state tournament.
He finished his prep career with a 61 percent completion rate, 8.,464 passing yards and 84 TDs.
Concord topped South Bend Washington 61-14, DeKalb 47-10 and Plymouth 42-9 in sectional action; Lowell 33-14 in the regional, Fort Wayne Dwenger 48-21 in the semistate before Cathedral ended the team’s dream season by defeating the Minutemen 38-14 in the 4A state championship.
Monty Marion was Concord’s leading scorer with 152 points followed closely by Mike Meade at 148. James Cira scored 128 and kicker Jeremy Howard 94 (eight field goals and 70 PATs).
Meade finished the season with 21 TD catches and James Cira 16. Meade snared a noteworthy 83 passes that season for 1,577 yards.
Cathedral (8-5) is still alive in this year’s tourney and face Terre Haute North (10-2) Friday in the southern semistate.
Contact Goshen News sports reporter Greg Keim at 533-2151, ext. 326 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.