Two schools separated by roughly five miles of Elkhart city streets — schools that play against each other in every other varsity high school sport.
Except football. And it took an IHSAA realignment to do that.
Concord, which has been playing football only since 1960, and the Blue Blazers, who have played for a century, will finally meet on Friday night in a Class 5A sectional final.
The oddities don’t stop there.
Central, under the state’s all-in tournament format, has only once competed in a sectional football championship game -- a 1998 5A game with Penn.
The intrigue alone is worth the wait for the showdown at Rice Field. Game time is 7 p.m.
In the early Minutemen years, they played other “country” schools like Nappanee, New Carlisle and another school which had just opened called Penn.
During the same time, Elkhart High was competing with much bigger South Bend schools, Mishawaka, LaPorte and Michigan City in the powerful NIC.
Concord joined the NLC in 1970 while Elkhart was poised to split into Central and Memorial two years later. The combination of conference affiliations, being in different football classes and having their own non-league rivals have always kept the Minutemen and Blazers off each other’s football schedules.
The two schools did, however, participate with NorthWood in a jamboree in the early 1980s at Rice Field.
Other area matchups
Jimtown also gets a first-time opponent in a 3A sectional final Friday when it plays Twin Lakes, which is located in Monticello. The Knepp Field start in Baugo Township is 7:30.
The Indians compete in the Hoosier Conference and four schools in their league — West Lafayette, Rensselaer Central, Tipton and Delphi are still competing for sectional crowns.
Three other NSC teams, the ones not exiting the league in two years — New Prairie, Glenn and Bremen — will vie for championships, too.
At the 6A level, Penn looks for a regional title at Lake Central. The Kingsmen and Indians played three straight years — 1998-2000 — with Penn winning all three times. Kickoff is set for 7:30 p.m.
Lake Central, which rocked Duneland Athletic Conference rival Merrillville 31-0 last week, is the only DAC team remaining in the tourney. Mishawaka, St. Joe and Central from the NIC also are left this week.