By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
Coach Tim Dawson doesn’t want his kids thinking about revenge for last season’s 24-21 loss to Mishawaka in the Class 4A semistate when the two schools clash Friday night at Jake Field on the Concord campus for a Class 5A regional championship.
“The revenge thing is overrated,” the coach said. “This is a new year and a new team.”
“We did talk to the kids about the loss during the offseason. The kids took the loss hard and that is a good sign. It’s a sign that shows they care about the program.”
The Concord Minutemen are 9-2 and the Mishawaka Cavemen 9-3. Concord will be going for its fifth regional title and Mishawaka its third.
“A loss in the semistate is the hardest one to take,” Dawson said. “If you win the semistate and lose in the state championship game the kids still get medals and rings. You still feel like you won something.”
Mishawaka is ranked No. 7 in the AP Poll and Concord No. 8 while the teams are tied for 7th in the Coaches Poll.
Concord would either host No. 4 Fort Wayne Snider or travel to No. 1 Westfield for the semistate on Friday, Nov. 22. Mishawaka would be home for a semistate game against either opponent.
Concord and Mishawaka squared of in a classic battle last season. Concord tied the score 21-21 with 1:11 left in the game when now-senior quarterback Trevor Wilmore tossed a 42-yard touchdown pass to Dakota Simon. The Minutemen then had to kickoff and the ball went out of bounds. In high school, teams have the option of taking the ball at their own 35 or making the team kick again. Mishawaka’s coach Bart Curtis elected to have Concord kick again and Matt Carver returned the ball to the C-30. Quarterback San Schrader ran the ball on five consecutive plays to the C-1 where on the last play of the game Daniel Blackford, who had not kicked a field goal all season, split the uprights on the 18-yard game winner.
Concord defeated Elkhart Central 34-0 to its sectional title while Mishawaka was a 24-17 winner at Munster for its sectional crown.
Central is the only common opponent. Mishawaka was a 28-13 winner over the Central Blue Blazers.
The Mishawaka offense is led by 5-7 (145) sophomore quarterback Darian Phillips, 6-1 (180) junior fullback Tanner Bradley and 5-4 (135) senior halfback Angelo Multari. Multari carried the ball eight times for 74 yards. Phillips had a 1-yard TD run and Bradley an 8-yard scamper. Mishawaka’s other TD came on a 56-yard kick return by 5-7 (155) sophomore Adam Heatherly. Phillips and Multari ran for two-point conversions and 6-4 (215) junior defensive lineman Jacob Schmatz recorded a safety when he tackled a Munster ball carrier in the end zone.
The Cavemen rushed for 267 yards and passed for 33 out of their option offense in the contest.
“Mishawaka’s offense is a hard one to prepare for,” Dawson said. “Our kids have to play assignment football and in the option that means tackling the fullback on every play.”
Dawson pointed out a couple of similarities and one difference between his club and the Mishawaka squad.
“Mishawaka likes to play tough defense, use a ball-control offense and get you with special teams,” the coach said. “We try to do the same thing except our offense is more of an up tempo variety.
“The kids know this will not be an easy game. We have told the kids when you start playing for championships there are no easy games.”
Trevor Wilmore has completed 95-of-178 passes for 1,676 yards this season. He has 21 TDs to go with eight interceptions. He missed the sectional opener with Elkhart Memorial (23-7 win) and played at less than 100 percent in the sectional finale with Central.
“We have limited his practice time and have him on no contact in practice,” Dawson said. “It’s no secret that his mobility is limited by the injury. One of the things we have worked with him this week in practice is getting rid of the ball faster. We talked to him about throwing the ball away to avoid a sack. Earlier in the season we didn’t have to worry about that since he is so good at getting out of jams.
“He says the knee feels better each day.”
Wilmore is the team’s leading rusher with 752 yards on 110 carries (6.8 average), followed by 6-0 (210) senior Larry Smith 455 yards on 63 carriers (7.2) and 5-10 (170) senior Jackson Marlow 286 on 49 (5.8).
Leading receivers are 5-9 (154) junior Jarrell Pointdexter 38 catches for 645 yards (17.0 average), 5-8 (166) senior Chris Martin 12 for 281 (23.4), 6-2 (185) senior Adam Glanders 19 for 265 (13.9) and 6-4 (220) sophomore Matt Wilmore 13 for 194 (14.9).
Ryan Tepe, 5-10 (160) junior, handles the place kicking. He is 7-of-11 on field goal and 49-of-50 on PATs.
Pointdexter is the leading scorer with 84 points (14TDs), followed by Tepe 70, Trevor Wilmore 60 (10 TDs), Matt Wilmore 30 (five TDs) and Larry Smith 30 (five TDs).
Concord’s Strike Force defense is led by 6-0 (195) sophomore linebacker Kyle Moreno 40 tackles and 13 assists, 5-10 (211) senior linebacker Jake Kronk 34 and 15, 6-1 (255) nose guard Curtis Brown-Watson 32 and 12, 6-0 (171) junior strong safety Brandon Thomas 30 and 12 and 5-10 (185) junior linebacker Kevin Moreno 30 and 10.
Nick DeFreese, 6-0 (187) senior free safety Nick DeFreese has four interceptions, Thomas three and Kronk two.