Bill Beck: If you get this far, there are no gimmes
Posted: 11/02/2012 at 1:15 am
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Derrick Sorensen # 28 Wawasee Varsity 2011 football (Truth Photo By J. Tyler Klassen)
Wawasee's Jordan Elliott (7) celebrates with Gabe Rhodes (43) after he scored a touchdown during the varsity football game against Elkhart Memorial in Elkhart at Friday, Oct. 5, 2012. (Truth Photo By Evey Wilson)
Wawasee's Gabe Rhodes (43) runs with the ball during the varsity football game against Elkhart Memorial in Elkhart at Friday, Oct. 5, 2012. (Truth Photo By Evey Wilson)
I don’t know what Wawasee has going, but it’s winning it football games. And that’s all that matters.
Concord’s seen this before, too. From other teams, from itself.
Tim Dawson, the Minutemen’s battle-tested head coach, has been around the block a few times. After watching the early returns from the area sectional football campaign, he went ahead and forewarned his Minutemen about the Warriors early in the week.
“I told them to call up the Plymouth kids or the NorthWood kids ... New Haven ... and ask them,” Dawson said. “There are no gimmes.”
Plymouth routed NorthWood in Week 9. Seven days later, the Panthers eliminated the Rockies.
NorthWood clocked Wawasee in the regular season. Six weeks later, the Warriors advanced in a tourney shootout.
In the Class 4A bracket which will feed a sectional champ into next week’s regional, Norwell, which was 0-9 in the regular season, knocked out an 8-2 New Haven squad which was heavily favored.
Bottom line, the only sure thing is there are no sure things.
“All you have left now is teams that are playing well,” Dawson said. “Now it’s all about getting a trophy. Each week you’re getting something now.”
Wawasee knows it hasn’t won anything yet. In fact, the Warriors have beaten the Minutemen only twice in the last 20 meetings.
But check the history.
Wawasee’s played in just two previous sectional finals — 1985 and 2004. In both years, they won a sectional title enroute to the state finals.
Now, nobody’s saying the Warriors are poised for a run to Lucas Oil Stadium.
This is a Wawasee team which wasn’t going anywhere earlier this year. All the Warriors had going for them was a season-opening win over Whitko and an overtime decision over hard-luck Northridge.
But when coach Tom Wogomon’s players tightened their helmets — and their collective soul — and stunned rival Warsaw 14-13 in Week 7, the renaissance began.
It’s taken more than a month to evolve, but the Warriors can be called a football team.
“It was a mindset, a mentality of us against the world,’’ Wogomon said this week. “We had a goal-line stand at the end of the first half against Warsaw and I think then we became a unit.
“We weren’t getting any respect ... they had to take ownership. The kids understood that.”
Wawasee’s endured injuries, suspensions, dismissals, walk-offs and plain bad football. On the X-and-O scales, a few pieces have been moved around and the offensive base has been adjusted.
The result? Five straight wins.
“They’ve done exactly what you want from a team in that it’s gotten better,” Dawson said.
No special formula.
No Rockne speeches.
Just a band of kids who had nothing to lose finally figuring it out.
There are two types of teams left in tournament play — those teams that are good and know it, and those teams that have finally tasted success and now have no fear.
Concord is good.
Wawasee is without fear.
“I feel like we’re a lot more motivated than at the beginning of the year,” said Derrick Sorensen, Wawasee’s team leader, according to Wogomon.
“Things weren’t going our way, but we’ve started building a little steam,” Sorensen said. “Being a senior, I’ve got nothing to lose, I’ll play as hard as I can. There’s nothing to be let down about, nothing to hold back.”
Wawasee at Concord, Jimtown at Heritage in 3A and Marian at rival St. Joe in another 3A final are all great games in the making tonight.
Playing to advance is one thing.
Playing for a championship is special.
Only 40 sets of players will hoist a trophy in front of their fans tonight.
I can’t wait to see what transpires.
Bill Beck can be contacted at email@example.com