By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
The winning team was still the same, but this time around the high school football matchup between the Concord Minutemen and the Wawasee Warriors was a very different game.
Concord posted a 54-7 win over Wawasee during the regular season before the Minutemen notched a 24-10 win Friday night in the Class 4A, Sectional 11 championship.
“We knew this was going to be a different game,” Concord coach Tim Dawson said. “Defense wins championships and our defense came though in a big way for us.”
Concord (10-2) advances to the regional championship next Friday where they will meet the Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger Saints (6-6).
“This hurts right now, but one day these kids will look up and see what they did this season,” Wawasee coach Tom Wogomon said. “The seniors led the turnaround and got us to play competitive ball.
“We moved the ball on Concord. We just had times when we didn’t finish things off.”
A big play in the game came early in the fourth period when the Warriors faced a 4th-and-goal at the C-1. Wawasee tried to run a sweep and Concord’s 5-9 (188) senior middle linebacker Dallas Maynard ran the ballcarrier down and prevented the touchdown. Concord was leading 17-3 at the time.
“That was a huge play,” Dawson said. “If Wawasee scores it might be a different game.
“Maynard has done a great job of us since he became a starter in the first Wawasee game.”
Maynard also recovered a Wawasee fumble in the first period.
“Concord has an aggressive down hill defense with speed on the outside,” Wogomon said. “The goal-line stand was huge. That was one of three opportunities we had in the game to put some points on the board and didn’t.”
One of the biggest changes for the Warriors since the first Concord game was 6-0 (145) sophomore Gage Reinhard taking over the role as the starting quarterback and the emergence of 6-2 (160) classmate Clayton Cook at wide receiver.
Reinhard completed 15-of-29 passes for 125 yards and a TD. Cook caught five passes for 56 yards.
“Taylor Miller (5-9, 175, senior strong safety) and Brandon Thomas (5-11, 178, sophomore cornerback) did a great job on Cook,” Dawson said. “Any time Cook catches the ball he is a threat to go all the way. Miller and Thomas took him out of the game.”
Concord needed its “Strike Force” defense on a night when the offense struggled at times.
“Wawasee threw some different blitzes at us and rattled us a little,” Concord’s 6-0 (171) junior quarterback Trevor Wilmore said. “We felt we could run the ball on Wawasee and we were the more physical team up front.
“The defense came through for us in a big way. They put our offense in good positions all night.”
Wilmore was 12-of-24 passing for 147 yards and a pair of TDs.
He tossed a 25-yarder to 6-2 (172) senior wideout Adam Glanders at 8:43 of the second quarter and a 10-yarder to 6-3 (170) senior Timothy Yoder at 2:23 of the third.
Glanders used a fake on his TD that left people in the press box shaking their heads.
“I caught the ball and saw the defender coming,” he said. “The move was instinct.”
Glanders was Wilmore’s favorite target with five receptions for 74 yards.
“That was just the way it worked out,” Glanders said. “The coaching staff did a good job of calling the plays and you have to give credit to the offensive line for the way they blocked.”
Six-two (230) senior running back DuWhan Alford rushed for 111 yards on six carries for the Minutemen. The bulk of his yards came on a 68-yard TD run at 6:42 of the opening quarter for Concord’s first score.
Alford suffered an injury in the second period and didn’t play the rest of the game.
“It’s a meniscus (knee) injury but nothing serious. He will be okay,” Dawson said. “It happened on a field goal. Someone rolled over on him.”
Five-eight (165) senior Derrick Sorensen was a workhorse for the Warriors with 115 rushing yards on 23 carries.
Wawasee’s TD came with 3:49 left in the contest when Reinhard spotted 5-9 (170) junior Jordan Elliott near the back of the end zone for the 10-yard scoring pass.
Wawasee finishes 7-5.