They've ridden the fire engine.
They've got their rings.
The Elkhart Central Blue Blazers have celebrated a Class 4A baseball championship.
Central went 32-1 overall, 14-0 in the Northern Indiana Conference in 2013 and sent three players — Tanner Tully (Ohio State), Cory Malcom (Arkansas-Little Rock) and Matt Eppers (Ball State) — to NCAA Division I baseball.
Now it's back to work for head coach Steve Stutsman and his '14 Blazers.
"This is a brand new year," says Stutsman, who is beginning his 19th season. "The players and coaches know we've got a big target on our backs. We've got to be prepared every game."
While much talent graduated, Stutsman still expects his team to play with commitment, enthusiasm and passion.
"We are going into every game with the same confidence we did last year," says Stutsman. "We are are going to be competitive."
Stutsman, who asks his players to rank themselves as individuals and name their offensive and defensive lineups, says he may not have a set lineup until midway through the season.
"We will have to play good fundamental baseball offensively and defensively and execute on hit-and-runs and sacrifice bunts for us to be successful," says Stutsman, whose returning letterwinners include 2013 regulars Jesse Zepeda and Kyle Smith. "I've been pleased with the work ethic and passion so far. The enthusiasm has been good."
Of course, the weather has not been so good.
Like many area baseball teams, Central went into the last few days of March without not having yet practiced on their field.
"This is the latest I haven't been outside yet," says Stutsman.
If conditions allow, the Blazers are scheduled to open Wednesday, April 2 at Concord.
Coach: Brent Reinhardt (108-277 in 16 seasons).
Assistants: Matt Overman, Jeff Vardman.
2013 record: 3-18.
Returning letterwinners (6): Seniors — of-p Jordan Glasgow, of-p Dylan Schlabach. Juniors —util Ryan Duckworth, 1b Jordan Haarer. Sophomores — ss-p Joel Miller, 2b Alex Reinhardt.
Others: Juniors — of Tristan Clark, p-of Ethan Miller, p-3b Cristian Romero. Sophomores — of Nathanael Eby, 1b Mason Tollar. Freshman — c Joel Plank.
Opener: Monday, March 31 at LaVille.
Coach: Jim Treadway (38-17 in two seasons).
Assistants: Jim DeFreese, Sean Sears, Bart McClane, Andy Namisnak, Doug Williams, Brent Curry, Kyle Konarski.
2013 record: 18-7 (10-4 in Northern Lakes Conference).
Returning letterwinners (7): Seniors — rhp-of Duncan Boone, of-rhp Josh Hudnall, ss-rhp Nick DeFreese, rhp-1b-3b Stephen Pinarski, 2b-rhp-of Matt Williams. Juniors — 2b-ss-rhp Brenden Curry, c Jake Vernon.
Others: Seniors — of-1b Jake Boyer, of Chris Martin, 1b-rhp-of Brett Neveraski, of Trevor Wilmore, 2b-of Drew Wysong. Juniors — of-1b Brett Austin, of Jarrod Beverly, 2b-rhp-of Zack Stauffer, 3b-rhp-2b Dylan Troyer, c-of-1b Jake Wirt.
Opener: Tuesday, April 1 at Lakeland.
Coach: A.J. Gaideski (273-181 in 15 seasons).
Assistants: Craig Pulling, Brad Ostrander.
2013 record: 19-9 (Wolverine Conference tournament champions).
Returning letterwinners (8): Seniors — c-p Brett Bowman, 3b-p Garrett Bronkema, of Dylan Hulett, ss-2b Maris Marazita. Juniors — 3b-p Keith Boeker, 1b-p Jackson Gaideski, of-p Derek Pierce, of-p Dalton Raymond.
Others: Seniors —1b Travis Myrick, of-c Tyler Williamson. Juniors — ss-2b-p Jesse Reinebold. Sophomore — ss-2b-p Damion Pompey.
Opener: Monday, April 7 at Brandywine.
Coach: Steve Stutsman (272-248-9 in 18 seasons).
Assistants: Steve Asbury, Chad O'Brien, Lonnie Weatherholt, Brandon Squibb, Paul Bates.
2013 record: 32-1 (15-1 in Northern Indiana Conference; NIC, sectional, regional, semistate, Class 4A state champions).
Returning letterwinners (5): Seniors — ss-rhp-c Tyler Kucala, lhp-of Colin Rudicil, c-rhp Kyle Smith, of Mike Winn, of-rhp Jesse Zepeda.
Others: Seniors — rhp Micah Bowyer, 2b-c Max Fritz, 1b Kennedy Futterknecht, 2b Jon Hill. Juniors — 3b Jack Fann, of Walter Griffin, rhp-2b Zach Ottavi, lhp-1b Kyle Short, lhp-of Brandon Terry. Freshman — rhp-ss-2b Andrew Salmon.
Opener: Wednesday, April 2 at Concord.
Coach: Chris Lemert (67-48 in five seasons).
Assistants: Ryan Hartman, Caleb Hartman.
2013 record: 21-8 (sectional champions).
Returning letterwinners (14): Seniors — of Jon Anderson, of Kenny Bearss, of Jaxson Moore, c-p Tanner Watson, if Kyle Zuber. Juniors — 1b-p Noah Buck, if-p Josh Kelly, if Jonny Kintner, of-p Jake McCown, of Andy Metz, if Jamison Moore, if-p Drew Overmyer. Sophomores — c Chase Biddle, if Kody Maxwell.
Others: Sophomore — p-if Tyler DuComb. Freshman — if Robby Koehl.
Opener: Monday, March 31 vs. SB Washington.
Coach: Scott Rost (189-141 in 11 seasons).
Assistants: Rick Fiene, Scott Asbury, Bruce Baer, Doug Keck, Justin Oley.
2013 record: 7-24 (3-11 in Northern State Conference).
Returning letterwinners (8): Seniors — rhp-2b Brock Herman, rhp Brandon Kosloski, lhp-of Noah Pawlak, lhp-of Jake Tucker. Juniors — c-if Daniel Asbury, rhp-3b Scottie Clark, ss-of Cameron Maxwell, rhp-1b Derrick Oley.
Others: Juniors — 2b-of Nick Brewers, rhp Riley Butts, of Trey Lax, of-c Dallas Lundgren, 1b-c Luke Walker. Sophomores — rhp-if-of Jonathan Bailey, rip-off Alec Mark, c Lane Schultz.
Opener: Monday, March 31 vs. Jimtown.
Coach: Keeton Zartman (first season).
Assistants: Troy Sands, Darin Kauffman, Derick Troeger, Pierce Zent, David Mahoney, Troy Garrett, Jason Smith.
2013 record: 19-4 (9-1 in Northeast Corner Conference; NECC regular-season co-champions).
Returning letterwinners (10): Seniors — rhp-ss-of Austin Christner, rhp-3b-of Dustin Everage, ss-2b Forrest Glogouski, of-rhp Ben Hunley, of-rhp Zac Kropf, 3b-rhp Kyle Mast, of-c-1b Lucas Miller, lhp-1b Reece Miller, c Tony Zook. Junior — ss-c-3b-of Clay Bontrager.
Others: Juniors — of-lhp Andrew Bobeck, of-lhp Cody Haab, 2b-ss Josh Stephens, of Parker Zent. Sophomores — 3b-rhp-1b Sam Brown, 1b-c-ss-3b Brock Goeglein.
Opener: Tuesday, April 1 at Goshen.
Coach: Josh Keister (first season).
Assistants: Aaron Keister, Tracy Farmwald, Chad Collins, P.J. Wolf, Jon Swihart.
2013 record: 11-17 (5-9 in Northern Lakes Conference).
Returning letterwinners (3): Seniors — rhp-off Deric Haynes, rhp-util Jorge Pizana. Junior — if Jack Gingerich.
Others: Seniors — c D.J. Ambrose, of Alex Haney, lhp Trevor Weldy. Juniors — if-rhp Bryce Bender, if Tyler Born, if Jake Fisher, rhp-1b Adam Pearson, of Austin Reed, c-util Zach Troyer. Sophomores — if Tito Garcia, of-lhp Corbin Harrison, rhp-util James Paetkau.
Opener: Monday, March 31 at Mishawaka.
Coach: Darin Mast (17-8 in one season).
Assistants: Jordan Smith, Josh Smith, Cory Stoner, Dave Pontius, Lee Mast, Luke Smith.
2013 record: 17-8 (14-0 in Northern State Conference; NSC champions).
Returning letterwinners (4): Seniors — of Logen Norment, 3b Tristan Wickham. Juniors — rhp Nick Floyd, c C.J. Holman.
Others: Juniors — of Tyler Fordyce, of Jay Franko, if Tyler Lundy, lhp-of Keegan Mawhorter, of Nik Olson, if Kain Templeton, of Brennan Vitali, rhp-if Zach Weinkauf. Sophomores — of-rhp Trevor Hobbs, if Ryan Mott.
Opener: Monday, March 31 at Elkhart Memorial.
Coach: Andrew Brabender (130-39 in six seasons).
Assistants: Dyrk Miller, James Greensides, Mike Brouilette, Lincoln Rassi, Mike Summy.
2013 record: 26-4 (13-1 in Northern Lakes Conference; NLC champions).
Returning letterwinners (6): Seniors — c-if Jake Bayliss, if-rhp Steven Frye, of-lhp Craig Kasten, if Ryan Summy. Juniors — if-rhp Payton Carson, if-rhp Sam Troyer.
Others: Juniors — of Cam Ridenour, of Cody Miller, of Grant Miller. Sophomores — if-rhp-c Andrew Kennedy, of Matt Miller, lhp-if-of Andy Ross. Freshman — of-rhp Bryce Miller.
Opener: Friday, April 4 in LaPorte Invitational.
Coach: Zach Benko (43-27 in three seasons).
Assistants: Matt Cox, Todd Cleveland.
2013 record: 17-8 (10-4 in Northern Lakes Conference; sectional champions).
Returning letterwinners (9): Seniors — if-rhp Blake Cleveland, of Tanner Farmwald, util Will Kirkwood, if-rhp Hunter Lane, if-rhp Kyle McCoy. Juniors — of Dominic Miranda, util Trent Sellers. Sophomores — util Tanner Cleveland, if-rhp Chad Sellers.
Others: Seniors — of-rhp Tyler Minnich, lhp Ian Smith. Juniors — c-of Chad Hershberger, of Mitchell Hunsberger, if Michael Unrue.
Opener: Monday, March 31 at Westview.
Coach: Greg Dikos (594-223 in 27 seasons).
Assistants: Jim Kominkiewicz, Lucas Fry, Tom Stanton, John Westra, Brandon Kominkiewicz, Brian Lares.
2013 record: 21-9 (12-4 in Northern Indiana Conference).
Returning letterwinners (9): Seniors — of Connor Banashak, 3b-rhp Cole Harlacher, 2b Andrew Herman, of Elliott Lares, 1b Colin McNamara, c Tyler Perry, rhp Jake Thoma, ss Austin Toth. Sophomore — rhp-of Skylar Szynski.
Others: Juniors — c Tim Lira, if Brooks Ullery. Sophomores — if-of Luke Schneider, if-of Brandon Stesiak. Freshman — of-rhp Nik Kavadas.
Opener: Friday, April 4 in LaPorte Invitational.
Coach: Brent Doty (first season).
Assistants: Vince Rhodes, Kent Doty, John Szynal, Ryan Christner, Ryan Hoover.
2013 record: 4-18 (1-13 in Northern Lakes Conference).
Returning letterwinners (14): Seniors — rhp-if Jordan Currie, rhp-if Gage Fannin, rhp-if Nate Hare, lhp-of Andrew Milligan, if Patrick Navarro. Juniors — of-rhp Drew Anderson, c Nic Anderson, if Brett Carson, c-if Nate Prescott, of Kurtis Liston, if-rhp Gage Reinhard, lhp-of Aaron Voirol, if-rhp-of Drew Wright, if Bailey Yoder.
Others: Juniors — if-rhp-of Colin Beer, c-of Bailey Hershberger.
Opener: Tuesday, April 1 vs. Bethany Christian.