Concord vs. Jimtown: Who can find their game first?
Posted: 09/21/2012 at 1:15 am
By: Bill Beck
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Concord's Taylor Miller (11) runs with the ball in the varsity football game against Goshen at Concord in Elkhart on Friday, Sep. 14, 2012. (Truth Photo By Evey Wilson)
Concord's Franko House (36) runs with the ball in the varsity football game against Goshen at Concord in Elkhart on Friday, Sep. 14, 2012. (Truth Photo By Evey Wilson)
Jimtown Jimmies Devan Emerson runs with the ball to score a touchdown during the first half of Friday's game against the Lakeview Lakers at Lakeview High School on Lagrange. The Jimmies won the game 42-0. (Truth Photo by Delayna Earley)
Taylor Miller tries to tackle Jimtown's Devan Emerson during the game 9/23/2011. ¬ (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen) ¬ ¬ ¬
That can only mean one thing: It's Concord-Jimtown week.
With wins safely tucked away the night before over other rivals — the Minutemen stormed over Goshen and the Jimmies manhandled New Prairie — both squads started looking to tonight's headliner at Knepp Field.
All the right ingredients are there for another memorable story to tell in the years to come.
• Jimtown jumped to the No.1 ranking in Class 3A this week.
• Concord grabbed the No.3 in Class 4A, but received two first-place votes.
• Schools separated by four miles of county roads have played 50 times. Concord leads 26-24. • Jimtown won 10 straight meetings from 1992-2001.
• Concord has won 8 of the last 10.
• A crowd could reach 4,000 if the rainy weather holds off for a few hours.
In Elkhart County, this is where it's happening.
“It doesn't get old,” said Tim Dawson, Concord's coach and a man who has coached in 24 of these games.
“If you love football, if you love big games, how can you not get excited?” Dawson said.
It's an oddly-scheduled, midseason non-conference game which won't move on the ledger anytime soon.
Visionaries want to see the game reshuffled to early in the season where most schools slot non-league opponents.
Purists like it just where it is.
It's no secret that both teams benefit from a sure-fire quality opponent with the tourney just four Fridays away.
“You think about it. It's a month away to the first round,'' said Mike Campbell, Jimtown's coach — a man who has played in this series.
“It's going to be fun either way. You're going to learn something ... something about yourselves, something about your opponent,'' Campbell said.
It's long been decided that Concord vs. Jimtown is the ultimate measuring-stick.
But the unique beauty to the annual blood-bath is whether this game is played at Knepp Field in Baugo, The Jake in Dunlap or someone's backyard on Mishawaka Road, you really never ever know what's going to happen.
There are years, like 2011, when Jimtown's run game shreds the Minutemen. Other times, the Jims can't move the chains much.
There are years when Concord will torment Jimtown with a crisp passing game or times when the Boys of Baugo will make Minutemen quarterbacks dizzy.
Each teams knows its capabilities by now. The yearly September question is, can each perform against the other?
Who can impose its will the swiftest and for the longest time.
Defensively, any team's primary goal is to make its opponent one-dimensional.
Concord needs to run so it can open up its passing scheme. And when the Minutemen pass, they have to block the Jimmie blitzes that are certain to come.
Jimtown must throw effectively enough so the Minutemen won't line up nine defenders and the marching band within four yards of the scrimmage line.
Seems simple, right?
“We have to be more sound defensively,'' Dawson said. “We took chances last year we probably shouldn't have taken. We have to be sound and not give up the big play.”
Offensively for both teams, the keys are simple — quarterbacks have to make plays.
“Our quarterback has to play a great game, deliver the ball in the right places and then receivers have got to catch it,” Dawson said. “We have to make more plays with our playmakers than their playmakers do.”
The grunts, hogs and bullies will have their say in the trenches, of course, but it's the Brody Olsons and Ryan McKibbins running the flow of the game.
It's the DuWhan Alfords and Tanner Adams' and Devan Emersons running the ball.
It's the Dakota Simons and Carter Gills getting open downfield.
Coaches can plan and counter plan.
They can X and O themselves into a lather.
Players will play and coaches will coach.
Fans? They'll rachet up their smack from the time their feet hit the parking lot until the final whistle blows.
Some of it good-natured. Some of it not.
Keep it real, Minutemen and Jimmies. It's kids playing football.
It'll feel like fall tonight.
Bill Beck can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org