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GORCHES: How ironic: East Chicago defeats Russ Radtke for regional title

New Prairie's head coach Russ Radkte (middle) reacts after play against East Chicago Central during Class 4A football regional held

New Prairie's head coach Russ Radkte (middle) reacts after a play against East Chicago Central during the Class 4A football regional held at East Chicago Central High School in East Chicago on Friday November 15, 2013. | Charles Mitchell/for Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 17, 2013 6:15AM



EAST CHICAGO — Over the years, I’ve been a part of multiple discussions on the definition of irony. For the record, the 1996 song “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette is almost completely wrong — very few, if any, of her examples in the song are really irony.

But East Chicago’s improbable, amazing, shake-your-head and say “Wow!” 38-37 overtime win over previously undefeated New Prairie was filled with irony — even if my definition isn’t accurate, either.

Let’s start with the game-winning play: a simple extra point by Cardinals’ kicker Daniel Flores in overtime that provided the margin of victory. The senior had missed two extra points earlier that resulted in East Chicago (11-2) needing to go for two a couple times and failing. When the score was 28-24 New Prairie (12-1), each team had four touchdowns, but made extra points would have made it a tie.

Once the Cardinals took the lead on an unbelievable 64-yard TD pass from Carlos Fernandez to TreQuan Burnett with 1:26 left, Flores made that extra point to give his team a three-point lead — that was huge considering the Cougars tied it on a field goal with one second left to force overtime.

Then Flores nailed the game-winner after Martayveus Carter scored on a 1-yard TD run.

“He came through in the end when he could have been the goat,” said EC coach Stacy Adams.

And back to that TD pass to Burnett, who also opened the scoring a little more than two minutes into the game with a 62-yard TD reception. Fernandez looked like he was sacked a couple times, but his ability to escape allowed the pass to Burnett, and then 50-plus yards of scampering to pay dirt.

“That was a great effort by a player to keep it alive and a great effort by a player to get the touchdown,” said Adams, who was very much part of the irony.

Adams resigned unceremoniously as the Valparaiso University head coach after the 2009 season.

So he comes to East Chicago, which has never won a sectional title and had only won more than nine games once in its history (1991), and he’s made the Cardinals into a winner with 20 wins over the last two seasons (and counting) and a trip to semistate, one win away from the state final.

And who did Adams and the Cardinals beat to get to the semistate? A former region coach who has turned around a program himself.

Former Griffith coach Russ Radtke has been at the helm of New Prairie for two seasons, producing a 21-3 record and the school’s third sectional title. At Griffith, he never lost to East Chicago, going 10-0 and winning the last four meetings by a combined score of 208-40. Since he left, Griffith has lost twice to EC.

Now that’s irony. Or maybe not, since Adams had a better explanation after getting doused by Gatorade, and yelling to one of his friends, “You set me up!”

“That’s football, baby!” he exclaimed.

Now that should be the name of a hit song.



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