Wednesday, September 3, 2014


Coach Steve Stutsman (far right) gets ready to film the fire truck ride as the rest get settled in on the truck. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening, June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

Elkhart Fire Chief Mike Compton gives the team some instructions on riding the fire truck. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening, June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

Members of the team and staff walked to the Civic Plaza from the baseball field for a ride to Rice Field on an Elkhart fire truck. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

Elkhart Central Athletic director Brian Buckley welcomes the fans to the celebration Monday, June 17. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

Fans form a tunnel as the team files into Rice Field. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

The Civic Plaza sign flashes congratulations as the team passes by it. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

The state trophy is hoisted to the baseball team members on the fire truck. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

Members of the team and staff walked to the Civic Plaza from the baseball field for a ride to Rice Field on a Elkhart fire truck. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

Players watch Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore as he gives his congratulations to the team. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

Tom Kurth, who was the coach of the Blazer track team that won the state meet in 1993, the school’s last state champion, applauds the baseball team coached by his son in-law, Steve Stutsman. Seated with him is former basketball coach Dean Foster and his wife, Barb Kurth. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

Central baseball head coach Steve Stutsman holds one of the signs that the city plans on putting up at the entrances to Elkhart. Assistant coaches Steve Asbury and Lonnie Weatherholt look on. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

Several people wore shirts celebrating the state championship with the players’ and coaches’ names on the back. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

Central High School teacher Missie Dickerson has her shirt signed by Mike Namisnak after the rally. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

Central baseball player Nick Ponce throws a handful of bubble gum into the crowed as he is introduced. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

Fans give their congratulations after the rally for the state championship Central baseball team and get autographs from team members. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)

Fans give their congratulations after the rally for the state championship Central baseball team. Several hundred fans turned out to celebrate a Class 4A state baseball championship with the Elkhart Central team Monday evening June 17, 2013, at Rice Field. (Truth Photo By Larry Tebo) (AP)
‘Best in the state’ Blazers celebrate championship ride
Posted on June 17, 2013 at 1:00 a.m.

ELKHART — The many fans gathered at Rice Field on Monday, June 17, heard remarks with a nice “ring” to them.

During a celebration of Elkhart Central High School’s IHSAA Class 4A state baseball champions, those gathered learned from athletic director Brian Buckley that the Blue Blazers would soon be getting championship rings at a dinner, likely in July, and heard so much more.

A sign was unveiled by Elkhart Mayor Dick Moore touting “Home of the Elkhart Central Blue Blazers 2013 State Baseball Champions.” The sign will soon appear at the school and at entrances to the city.

Central principal Frank Serge told the gathering of several hundred how this team, which went 32-1 and beat Indianapolis Cathedral 1-0 in the championship on June 15, “did everything the right way — on the field and off the field.”

“They are the best in the state,” said Serge. “Doesn’t that sound good? “Once a Blazer, always a Blazer,” he added.

Elkhart Community Schools Superintendent Rob Haworth told the team how they “captured a dream.”

“(It was) a dream that was started when you were given a bat, ball and a glove,” said Haworth. “On Saturday, you grabbed the dream and nobody — nobody — can take it away from you.”

Head coach Steve Stutsman let the gathering in on an exchange he had with Bethany Christian coach Brent Reinhardt (Central scrimmages each year with the Bruins).

“This is the group I’ve been waiting for,” said Stutsman of what he told Reinhardt. “They are a great bunch of guys.

“This is the greatest baseball team in Elkhart history,” he added.

The 18-year coach went on to say how this group had the will to work and the team chemistry which took it to Northern Indiana Conference, sectional, regional, semistate and then state titles and a 22-game win streak to end the whole dream season.

“Is this a dream?,” Stutsman said earlier Monday. “If it is, don’t wake me.”

All players tossed bubble gum into the crowd and several seniors took the opportunity to speak.

“It’s been an amazing ride,” said Kaleb DeFreese, who recalled that assistant coach Steve Asbury helped drive pre-season workouts with one word: “Indy.”

“All that hard work paid off,” said DeFreese.

Casey Ianigro thanked the fans and the parents for all the post-game snacks and the support.

“You guys rock and this team rocks,” said Ianigro. “I’ll always remember you guys.”

Matt Eppers also thanked the supporters.

“We may be the No. 1 team in the state, but you are the No. 1 fans,” said Eppers, who was the Class 4A L.V. Phillips Mental Attitude Award winner at the State Finals.

“Without (the parents and fans,) it wouldn’t be possible,” said Mike Namisnak.

Nick Ponce summed up the pre-rally festivities in six words: “I got to ride a fire truck.”

While introducing the members of the team, FOX 28 sports director Dean Huppert was reminded that it was 20 years ago this month that he saw coach Tom Kurth and his state championship boys track team ride onto campus on a fire truck.

Kurth’s daughter, Kristie, is married to Stutsman.

Monday’s rally was planned last week and was going to happen regardless of Saturday’s outcome.

When asked what would have been done Monday had the game come out differently, Buckley said, “With this group, I knew what was going to happen.”