ALBION — West Noble’s school colors are red, white and blue. Central Noble’s are maroon and white.
On Friday, both wore green.
Green ribbon decals were on the back of the helmets of both the Chargers and Cougars Friday night when the two Noble County rivals faced off on the football field. The decals were in honor of Chuck Schlemmer, a West Noble teacher who died Wednesday night.
West Noble defeated Central Noble, 19-7, but Friday was more than a football game.
Schlemmer was riding his bike last Friday night when a vehicle hit him. The driver was reportedly intoxicated. Schlemmer was airlifted to Parkview Regional Medical Center in Fort Wayne with multiple broken bones, a collapsed lung and brain injuries.
Schlemmer was kept on life support for a few days in order to see if his organs could be donated. His family took Schlemmer off life support Wednesday afternoon, though, and he passed away around 9:30 Wednesday night. He was 58 years old.
The passing of Schlemmer rocked the West Noble community. Schlemmer was a social studies teacher for 24 years at West Noble High School and was a cross country and track coach for 20 of those years.
“He touched so many people in our community and so many more people outside of it, even. He was such a unique guy. He had such a wide range of interests,” West Noble athletic director Tom Schermerhorn said. “He could touch so many different people because of that. Just a nice guy. It was always refreshing working with Chuck.”
Despite being rivals on the field, Central Noble knew they wanted to wear the ribbon decals on their helmets to support the West Noble community. The decals were green because it's the official color of organ donation.
“CN Athletics send our support to Coach Schlemmer’s family and the West Noble community,” Central Noble athletic director David Bremer tweeted Thursday. “While we may be adversaries on the field this Friday night, we are united in prayer.”
A moment of silence was held before the game in honor of Schlemmer.
A GoFundMe ran by the Schlemmer family had raised more than $25,000 by Friday night. The money will go to any medical expenses the Schlemmer family has. Any leftover money will go toward starting a scholarship in Schlemmer’s name.
The large dollar amount raised for Schlemmer doesn’t shock Schermerhorn.
“It doesn’t surprise me. Chuck would be so embarrassed by the amount of attention he’s gotten because that is so not him,” Schermerhorn said. “Hopefully it brings an awareness to not just drinking and driving, but distracted driving.”
As for the game Friday, West Noble came out fired up to play for Schlemmer. The Chargers scored on their first offensive drive of the season, as Kyle Mawhorter found Josh Gross for a six-yard touchdown reception. A missed extra point made it 6-0 West Noble less than five minutes into the game.
The next score in the game wouldn’t come until late in the third quarter, when Mawhorter scampered 12 yards for a touchdown. Julio Macias drilled the extra point to make it 13-0 Chargers. The touchdown capped off a 60-yard scoring drive for West Noble.
Brandon Pruitt once again led the Charger defense, recording nearly a dozen tackles and two sacks. The Navy commit was all over the field, limiting everything the Cougars tried to do defensively.
“They’ve been preparing for us for a long time. They’re really consistent on the run, and if we stopped that, we’d be alright,” Pruitt said. “Nobody was trying to be superheroes, so personally, I didn’t feel like I did anything spectacular. I was just doing my job.”
Central Noble’s only score came when Kyle Bolinger picked up a Gross fumble and ran it back 35 yards to make it a 13-7 game.
With 90 seconds to go, though, Pruitt finally broke through on offense, running 36 yards untouched to the end zone for the game-sealing score. He finished with 99 yards rushing.
“It’s awesome. I mean, I feel like it’s more for the team. Everybody was just super excited about it,” Pruitt said. “Our community has been through a lot, and just to have that just gives us some excitement.”
It was a trying week for the West Noble community, but for one night, they could all enjoy a game of football. It was especially emotional for West Noble coach Monte Mawhorter, who’s classroom has been right next to Schlemmer’s for more than 20 years.
“It’s hard for kids to lose anybody, but to lose a teacher that’s there every day, I mean the whole school was messed up all week,” Mawhorter said. “That follows them out of school and in practice. I would not say we had a great week of practice, but these kids stepped up and they played and made the plays in order to be successful.”
Schlemmer always supported the West Noble community, especially when the battle of Noble County was taking place.
“He would’ve always been here for this game. I don’t know if he ever missed this game, and he always wore his hat and sat in the corner,” Mawhorter said. “You knew he was supporting you, and if you’re a football coach, you’ve got a supporter and you hate to lose him.”
Mawhorter then pointed to the sky.
“I’m sure he’s still supporting me right now,” he said.
Austin Hough can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 574-533-2151, ext. 325. Follow Austin on Twitter @AustinHoughTGN
WEST NOBLE 19, CENTRAL NOBLE 7
West Noble 6 0 7 6 19
Central Noble 0 0 0 7 7
WN — Josh Gross six-yard touchdown reception, Kyle Mawhorter pass. Extra point no good; 6-0 West Noble, 7:35 left Q1
WN — Kyle Mawhorter 12-yard touchdown run; Julio Macias extra point attempt good. 13-0 West Noble, 2:55 left Q3
CN — Kyle Bolinger returns fumble 35 yards for touchdown; Hayden Miller extra point attempt good. 13-7 West Noble, 5:16 left Q4.
WN — Brandon Pruitt 36-yard touchdown run; extra point attempt no good. 19-7 West Noble, 1:21 left Q4