That Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger is playing No. 9 East Central in the Class 4A state finals Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium isn’t much of a surprise. The Saints are ranked third in 4A, have made eight appearances in the finals — most recently in 2013 — and have won three state titles.
But this year’s team had to overcome something besides its opponents. Longtime Dwenger coach Chris Svarczkopf is battling cancer, putting the team in the hands of interim coach Ernie Bojrab. A former head coach at Fort Wayne Northrop, Bojrab had been helping the Saints with strength and conditioning.
“I think (Svarczkopf’s situation) has served as added motivation for the kids and has inspired them,” Bojrab said. “They’ve gotten to see how Coach Svarczkopf practices what he preaches when he talks about overcoming adversity. The kids now see that what he’s been trying to teach them isn’t just a clever saying on the back of the T-shirt.”
The Saints (13-1) blew out South Bend St. Joseph in the semistate but had to gut out close wins against No. 6 Leo (24-22) and No. 11 Plymouth (8-0) in the sectional final and regional. They’ve done so with an offense centered on the running of Amaun Clark (1,719 yards, 23 touchdowns) and the all-around play of quarterback Blake Podschlne, who has thrown for 1,624 yards and run for 581 more. He’s accounted for 23 touchdowns.
East Central (13-1) counters with a ground game that averages 285 yards per game and helped the Trojans control more than 32 minutes of clock in a 21-0 semistate win against Roncalli.
East Central quarterback Luke Patton (1,808 yards, 33 TDs) and running back Doug Rosemeyer (1,464 yards, 14 TDs) are the main cogs in the running attack. But Patton also has been a reliable passer, completing 54.6 percent of this attempts for 1,404 yards.
“A lot of our plays are called at the line,” East Central coach Justin Roden said. “We call a formation, and we let Luke pick a side and audible out of it. He’s nicknamed ‘The General.’ When you see him play, that’s what he is. He’s really taken ownership of (the offense).”
Class 4A finals: FW Dwenger vs. East Central; 3:30 p.m. Saturday; Lucas Oil Stadium