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A night of new beginnings and harsh endings

Four Truth area schools will play in sectional finals.
Posted on Nov. 7, 2013 at 12:00 a.m. | Updated on Nov. 7, 2013 at 5:55 p.m.

Bill Beck

Side Lines

Grass-stained, sweat-soaked football uniforms will be laundered and either put back into lockers for another week or folded and stowed for next season.

Players will remove their jerseys one more time or for one final time. Central, Concord, Jimtown and Penn have those options facing them Friday night, Nov. 8.

The Blue Blazers, Minutemen and Jimmies have a chance to hug a sectional championship trophy. The Kingsmen pocketed their hardware last week and look to add a regional plate at Lake Central.

A night like this is nothing new to Jimtown and Penn, and Concord has now made a regular habit of competing for titles. But this is uncharted territory for Central, which has played for one football championship since the Elkhart High split in 1972.

When I asked Levon Johnson, the Blazers’ coach, about he’d have the “we’re playing for a title” speech, he said he had already delivered many of them — starting eight months ago.

“We’ve had that conversation since last spring,” Johnson said this week. “Realistically, when the sectional pairings came out, we knew it would be all Elkhart County ... the reality is that it’s one less step to get to a sectional championship. To have that opportunity to play for a sectional championship and to be able to do that at home, we started (talking about) that last year. We wanted to hammer that home.”

Central will welcome Concord to Rice Field Friday for the first meeting between the two Elkhart schools. That alone makes this game special.

I hope Elkhart and Concord fans make it special.

Rice Field deserves to have important games played between its lines. The famed stadium is full of life for one game every other season — the annual Mangy Lion game with rival Elkhart Memorial.

It’s been decades since a tournament game mattered this much for Central.

The kids know it and the coaches know it — from Blazer Boulevard to Minuteman Way.

Dawson said Concord players going back to the early 1980s have called to wish him luck.

“Those kids all know each other, they’ve been talking for years,” Dawson said. “In fact, I’ve gotten two phone calls when I got to my phone on Monday ... two ex-players back in the (Coach Tom) Conn days, called me and said, ‘Hey, good job, great year ... we’ve been waiting 40 years for a Concord-Central game.

“We’ll probably get people at the game who’ve never been to a Central or a Concord game. It’ll be, ‘Hey, let’s go watch.’”

It may be the same way for Jimtown.

The Jimmies haven’t played on their home field since Week 8 so the fans should be out in big numbers. Baugo took big numbers to Heritage last season to watch their season come to a end.

Now those same fans can pack the bleachers full as Jimtown squares off with Twin Lakes, which is eyeing its first sectional crown since 2002.

When trophies are at stake, kids seem to step up. Teams are where they are because of where they’ve been.

“A lot of these kids never had varsity starts before the season started. In Week 5 we got beat by New Prairie and we challenged the kids to come out and play hard and get better,” Jimtown coach Mike Campbell said. “We’ve had hiccups. We can’t play great all the time, but that’s the goal.

“We’ve put ourselves in position to win games. Friday night is for a championship ... we’re playing for a trophy.”

What’s great for northern Indiana football is that there are plenty of teams still in the hunt ... Glenn, Bremen and New Prairie from the NSC plus Mishawaka and St. Joe from the NIC.

After Central eliminated Goshen last Friday night, Johnson reminded his Blazers of the opportunity again. He’ll likely have additional words of wisdom right before kickoff tonight.

Campbell and Dawson will do the same thing. It’s the kind of moment which makes championship games special.

“We talked about the fact that we get a chance to play at home,” Johnson said. “After senior night with Marian, it’s been a big emphasis for the seniors ... now we’ve got to earn the right to come back and play at home. It’s not given to you.”

Bill Beck is The Elkhart Truth sports editor. Contact him on Twitter @BillBeckTruth or email bbeck@etruth.com

Class 5A Sectional 10

Championship

Concord (8-2) at Elkhart Central (4-6)

Site: Rice Field, Elkhart.

Kickoff: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8

Series: First meeting.

Radio/Web: WTRC 1340, www.am1340.com.

Advancement: Winner to play Mishawaka (8-2) at Munster (7-3) winner in regional on Nov. 15. If Concord wins, it would be at home to either Mishawaka or Munster. If Central wins, it would play at Mishawaka or at home to Munster.

Class 3A Sectional 26

Championship

Twin Lakes (7-4) at Jimtown (9-2)

Site: Knepp Field, Jimtown High School.

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8

Series: First meeting.

Radio/Web: www.broadcastsport.com.

Advancement: Winner to play Glenn (6-5) at Andrean (11-0) winner in regional on Nov. 15. If Jimtown wins, Jimmies are at Andrean or home to Glenn.

Class 6A Regional

Championship

Penn (11-0) at Lake Central (9-2)

Site: Lake Central High School.

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8

Series: Penn leads 3-0.

Last meeting: Penn won 20-0 in 2000.

Radio/Web: WTRC 95.3, WGCS 91.1, www.953mnc.com, www.globeradio.org.

Advancement: Winner to play Carmel (8-3) at Carroll (9-2) winner in semistate on Nov. 15. If Penn wins, Kingsmen at Carmel or home to Carroll.



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