NorthWood community soaks in sectional title

Elkhart Truth photo/Anthony AndersonNorthWood football coach Nate Andrews holds son Cooper as he addresses players and community members shortly after the Panthers' 52-24 sectional championship win Friday, Nov. 4, over host East Noble in Kendallville.

NorthWood football victories keep coming, and with them, those postgame on-field huddles that include players, parents, students, cheerleaders and other fans keep growing in numbers and revelry.

It's apparent that Nate Andrews, the home-grown head coach leading these impromptu assemblies, is eating it all up — just like the community is doing.

In fact, the community doing so is a part of why Andrews is doing so.

The Panthers were swarmed on the field as part of a festive celebration after their 52-24 Class 4A sectional win Friday at East Noble improved them to 12-0. It didn't matter that it was a road game. NorthWood fans are traveling well these days.

As he gathered his players, and as others circled in tightly as well, the coach's mind could have been racing in any number of directions.

He could've been thinking sentimentally about his first sectional title in charge of the program his late father built into a perennial power many years ago, about the particulars of what his players and his staff had just accomplished, about what they could still correct, or about the just-learned fact that New Haven (11-0) would be visiting NorthWood for this coming Friday's regional battle of unbeatens.

But Andrews made an emphatic point of starting this postgame with a thank you to all the supporters, mentioning parents and cheerleaders specifically.

Then he turned his attention to the guys in pads.

"You've made a lot of people proud that have come before you, and people that will come after you," a slightly hoarse Andrews barked upon the Panthers winning their first postseason championship since 2011. "I can't tell you how proud we as a coaching staff are.

"You guys have acted like champions. You've done what it takes to be a champion, not just all season, but in the offseason as well. ...

"You guys know the high expectations that we have for you," Andrews continued. "Some of you are shaking your heads, going, 'Yeah, yeah,' but you know what? You guys inspired us."

A few moments later, as photos and interviews and smaller huddles among friends were under way, Andrews was asked what the championship personally means for him.

Really, at least part of that answer had just been witnessed.

"I'm proud of our kids and coaching staff and community that we can celebrate together," Andrews said. "That's what it means to me, everybody coming together for one common cause. To me, it's about developing better young men who can hopefully do things the right way on a day-to-day basis ... and hopefully get some hardware as well."


Sophomore Bronson Yoder, one of the Panthers' several two-way standouts, was still repeatedly breaking tackles and dragging tacklers during NorthWood's final drive of the night.

Don't you ever get tired, Bronson?

Yoder, who had intercepted two passes, scored three touchdowns, finished with 111 yards in 18 offensive touches from scrimmage and added a pair of two-point conversions in the win, laughed at the question.

"Yeah, I do," he said. "I went out at one point. I was definitely tired."


Speaking of tired, linebacker Jake Stump's concern upon seeing yellow flags on the field after he returned a fumble 91 yards for an apparent touchdown weren't only about the possibility of the TD being overturned.

"I was like, man, what just happened? Now I gotta go all the way back (to the other end of the field)," Stump said.

His score was indeed wiped out by offsetting penalties, but they came after possession changed.

NorthWood ultimately turned that possession into a 91-yard TD drive anyway, and Stump had a cool memory to boot.

"I was overwhelmed," Stump said of the play, in which teammate DeAndre Smart stripped the ball. "It went straight into my hands and it surprised me, and then all these guys around me were saying, 'Run, run, run.' I don't get the ball much. It was kind of a big mess, but it felt awesome."







Concord`6`4`338 311








(Regionals; Eastern times)

4A: New Haven (11-0) at NorthWood (12-0), 7:30 p.m.

6A: Crown Point (6-5) at Penn (11-0), 7:30 p.m.





Kenny Kerrn, Jimtown`26`0`5`0`166

Bronson Yoder, NWood`18`0`19`0`146

Cedric Mitchell, Concord`16`0`2`0`100

Brayton Yoder, NWood`13`0`4`0`86

DeAndre Smart, NWood`13`0`2`0`82

JT Webb, Central`13`0`1`0`80

M. Kominkiewicz, Penn`13`0`0`0`78

Josh Gorball, Concord`0`14`0`32`74

Jack Lietzan, Concord`11`0`0`0`66



Jeff Stoll, Goshen`7`1`1`15`59

Payton Bear, NWood`8`0`5`0`58

Landon Martz, Penn`9`0`1`0`56

Rashid Maclin, Penn`9`0`0`0`54

Connor Kitson, Fairfield`7`0`4`0`50

Dom DeBroka, Concord`8`0`0`0`48

Dakota Pratt, Jimtown`8`0`0`0`48

Mike Brownlee, Memorial`8`0`0`0`48

Drew Minnich, NWood`7`0`3`0`48

Jared Hancock, Penn`0`1`0`45`48

Trey Bilinski, NWood`5`0`6`0`42

Jacob Kaiser, Central`0`5`0`24`39

Zac Lantz, Fairfield`6`0`0`0`36

Dylan Back, Goshen`6`0`0`0`36

Paul Moala, Penn`6`0`0`0`36

Cordell Hofer, Fairfield`5`0`0`2`32

Conner Graber, Nridge`5`0`1`0`32

Ross Kirkton, Central`5`0`0`0`30

Ricky Rocha, Central`5`0`0`0`30

Julius Graber, Nridge`5`0`0`0`30

Mason Castro, Jimtown`1`1`0`18`27

Mason Troyer, Nridge`4`0`1`0`26

Kaleb Rodriguez, Fairfield`4`0`0`0`24

CJ Detweiler, Goshen`4`0`0`0`24

Deven Love, Goshen`4`0`0`0`24

David Tillman, Memorial`4`0`0`0`24

James Iapalucci, Penn`4`0`0`0`24

Camm Nickell, Nridge`0`3`0`13`22

Austin Arbaugh, Memorial`0`1`0`18`21

Max Magyar, Jimtown`3`0`1`0`20

Des Johnson,Central`3`0`0`0`18

Adrean Sims, Central`3`0`0`0`18

Austin Bontrager, Goshen`3`0`0`0`18

Brandon Holley, Goshen`3`0`0`0`18

Zach Hill, Jimtown`3`0`0`0`18

Andrew Goodman, Mem`3`0`0`0`18

Nolan Grose, Memorial`3`0`0`0`18

Sam Pawlak, Jimtown`2`0`0`5`17

Adler Chamberlin, NWood`0`0`0`17`17

Touchdown Passes

Trey Bilinski (NorthWood) 37, Ross Kirkton (Central) 17, CJ Detweiler (Goshen) 16, Jack Lietzan (Concord) 13, Nathan Williams (Memorial) 12, Zac Lantz (Fairfield) 11, James Iapalucci (Penn) 11, Sam Pawlak (Jimtown) 9, Julius Graber (Northridge) 5.


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