Seniors produced great moments during 2018-19 school year

Jimtown's Hunter Watts (top), finished third in the state in wrestling in February and also earned the Ward E. Brown Mental Attitude Award. He's just one of a number of seniors to make their mark during the 2018-19 school year.

Members of the area high school Class of 2019 are currently thinking about college or the military or entering the work force.

But before they move on to the real world, let's take one more look at some of the athletic accomplishments those graduating seniors made during the 2018-19 school year.

I wish I could hit them all.

• We won't know for a few years if Bronson Yoder will eventually reach the National Football League like former Goshen High quarterback Rick Mirer and Elkhart High's Shafer Suggs did, but one thing is certain, the NorthWood High School graduate made a name for himself last fall.

Yoder became a finalist for the Mr. Football Award by leading the Panthers to an unbeaten season and berth in the Class 4A sectional championship game.

For the year, Yoder carried the ball 230 times for an eye-opening 2,302 yards and 28 touchdowns from the quarterback position, while also completing 26 of his 42 passes for 427 yards and six more scores. When Panther coach Nate Andrews moved Nate Newcomer to quarterback during games, Yoder even caught 12 passes for 139 yards an a pair of touchdowns.

Defensively, Yoder was almost as dominant, finishing with 62 total tackles from his defensive back spot. In addition, the talented senior had seven interceptions – three of which he returned for scores – and forced three fumbles.

Oh yes, the William & Mary commit returned both a punt and kickoff for a touchdown.

Yoder also had a great spring season in track, winning the long jump at both the Goshen Relays and at the sectional, before a hamstring injury ended his season before the regional.

The Panthers have a lot of talent returning this fall, but replacing one of the best players in county history could be a monumental job.

• Both the Concord boys and girls tennis teams won sectional and regional titles this year, before each fell at the semistate level.

On the girls side, seniors Regan Landis, Meaghan Godzisz and Keegan Thursby helped the Minutemen win their third straight sectional and regional titles.

Meanwhile, coach Todd Denton's boys team featured a number of seniors, including Alex Serwatka, Cal Whitaker, Drew McDougle and Grant Lucchese. The boys team also completed a three-peat, winning the sectional and regional titles for the third straight season.

• The Northridge boys basketball team gained a huge measure of satisfaction in March, winning the Class 4A Elkhart Sectional by beating Warsaw in the title game.

The previous season, the Raiders led Elkhart Memorial by 21 points with just over six minutes to play in the third quarter, before the Crimson Chargers scored the final 22 points of the quarter to take a one point lead and eventually pull away to win the sectional championship.

There would be no such drama in 2019, as a fired-up Northridge team put on a strong defensive effort – holding Warsaw to 27 percent shooting – on their way to a 59-46 victory.

Senior Jackson Erekson was huge in the championship game, hitting key shot after key shot in the fourth quarter to keep the Tigers at bay. Erekson would lead the Raiders with 25 points in the win, giving first-year coach Scott Radeker the chance to celebrate a title.

For Erekson and Nate Bowman and Drew Seegert, the seniors that had been so disappointed the year before, it was sweet redemption on the same court where they had been lost in despair a year before.

The Raiders, who got white-hot late in the season, would eventually win 13 straight games, before losing to Penn in the regional championship game.

• While the Northridge girls basketball team fell short of a sectional title, the senior class for coach Doug Springer deserves to be applauded.

The Raiders fell to Plymouth in double overtime in the Class 4A sectional, losing on a last second shot by the Pilgrims' Halle Reichard.

But that should take nothing away from what that senior class helped Northridge achieve in the past four years.

Before a late-season loss to Plymouth, Northridge had won 28 straight Northern Lakes Conference games. Led by senior All-Stater Morgan Litwiller, the Raiders senior class was part of four straight NLC titles, a sectional championships and a trip to the 2017 Class 4A semistate, where they lost to eventual state champion Homestead.

In addition to Litwiller, who was robbed of a berth on the Indiana All-Star team after a great senior year, the Raiders featured seniors Sierra Miller, Ashley Beckler, Meghan Bontrager, Lauren King, Izzy Love and Jenna Bradberry.

Bradberry missed all of her senior season with a knee injury, while King and Love were also less than 100 percent for most of the season.

But the Raiders still won 17 games against a very tough schedule and the Class of 2019 will definitely leave a legacy at Northridge.

• The Elkhart Memorial boys and girls cross country teams each had strong seasons, with both squads winning the Elkhart Sectional, while the boys won the Northern Lakes Conference regular season and tournament titles and the Elkhart Regional crown too.

While the girls team was led by junior Morgan Dyer, seniors Jessica Corredor Leon and Kallie Canfield also made key contributions for the Chargers. Meanwhile, the senior trio of Abdessamed Boussaha, Eric Stansburry and Hazael Morales all played big parts in leading coach Adam Homo's boys team to great heights.

• The Northridge girls and boys soccer teams also pulled off the sectional double, with both teams loaded with strong seniors.

The Raider girls won the sectional title behind seniors Ariana Stoltzfus and Sage Schnell, before a regional loss to Penn ended their season.

The regional loss for the Northridge boys was even worse, as the fifth-ranked Raiders dropped a controversial 4-3 decision to eventual state champion Chesterton in the regional championship game. Senior Micah Cross was the team's top scorer and classmate Jonathan Mora had a game-winning goal against Memorial to give the Raiders a 1-0 double overtime win in the sectional title game.

• While the season may not have ended the way they wanted, three seniors on the Jimtown wrestling team finished amazing careers at the state finals in February.

Hunter Watts, Matt Gimson and twin brother Conner Gimson all lost in the semifinal round at the IHSAA finals in Indianapolis.

Watts, a state champion as a junior at 120 pounds would finish third in the state at 126, as would Conner Gimson (138). Matt Gimson (132) finished fourth.

Watts was rewarded after the state finals by winning the Ward E. Brown Mental Attitude Award, voted on by the IHSAA Executive Committee. Watts, who will attend Central Michigan University, ranked 12th in his senior class at Jimtown.

• Special mention belongs to NorthWood senior golfer MacKenzie Weaver, who was named to the All-Northern Lakes Conference team for the fourth straight season, joining former teammate Summer Stillson as the only Panther golfers to accomplish that.

NorthWood had another great season under head coach Adam Yoder, who led the Panthers to their seventh straight NLC crown.

The Panthers also finished 10th at the IHSAA state finals – the school's highest-ever finish – while freshman Cybil Stillson came home 13th.

These are just a few of the many accomplishments for the Class of  2019, as they leave a legacy for the Class of 2020.

What can we expect next school year from new seniors like Dyer, Mark Brownlee, Davis Enfield, Alex Stauffer, Yadi Gomez, Preston Phillips, Carter Neveraski, Sarah Shank, Jake Lone, Isaiah Chandler, Hope Stacker, Mya Reeves, Yiesha Williams, Summer Cooper, Brock Flickinger, Regan Mast, Alex Rasler, Lauren Dibley, Nick Logan, Grace Crocker, Ryan Lynch, Gianna and Gabrielle Desimone, Tyler Lehman, Kate Rulli, Cam Knepp, Lauren Pollock, Dustin Whitman, Nolin Sharick, Jadyn Kaufmann, Eric Kelm, Ethan Cain, Jessica Alvey, Maddy Payne, Jaden Miller, Clay Campbell, Sydney Simon, Ivan Soeun, Neil Terrell, Luke Burns, Carol Haldeman and Ariel DeLaPaz?

It's too early to tell, of course, but high school sports never fails to produce drama and excitement.

So take a deep breath, because the 2019-2020 seasons will be here soon and I, for one, can't wait.

Ken Fox is the sports editor of The Elkhart Truth. You can reach him at kfox@elkharttruth.com or @KenFoxTruth on Twitter

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