Updated: December 26, 2013 6:33AM
FORT WAYNE — East Chicago threw six interceptions in Friday’s 38-0 loss to Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger. But coach Stacy Adams said the turnovers were in part a matter of having to play catch-up. The Cardinals trailed 9-0 after the first quarter and 31-0 at halftime.
“We got behind and we started forcing things,” he said. “We were doing things that we probably couldn’t do, but that’s part of the game.”
Adams gave the team a couple of options.
“This team, I told them ‘we could do one of two things — we can run the ball and get out of here early or we can keep fighting,’” Adams said. “You know the answer they gave me, ‘keep fighting.’ We threw an interception, what are we going to do fellas? Keep fighting. Keep chucking it. Try to get the ball downfield and get a score. That’s the type of team we have.”
Looking to take the next step: Rensselaer has won seven sectional titles during coach Chris Meeks’ 15-year tenure. It took five tries before the Bombers won a regional title, but it’s now become a regular occurrence, happening three times in the past five seasons.
Looking ahead, it’s time for Rensselaer to take the next step — advance to the state finals.
“Seems to be the formula with us,” Meeks said. “We have to get a few of these losses then we get there. This is our third semistate loss and it’s time to break through. We’re going to work hard to get there.”
Meeks is confident he has a group of returning players with the potential to make that breakthrough.
“There are a lot of juniors and they got a taste of it,” Meeks said. “and there’s no doubt in my mind that we’ll be back here again next year.”
Rensselaer returns its quarterback, Dylan Wright, who threw for over 1,100 yards and 16 touchdowns, with just five interceptions. The Bombers’ top three rushers — Rylan Arihood, Wright and Trevor Hill, also return.
Dalton Souders, who made ESPN’s Top-10 Plays with his double-punt block against Lafayette Central Catholic, returns after piling up 15 sacks this season. Austin Fleming, Ab Kiger and Dalton Murphy also return after being major contributors.
“We were looking for our go-to player (against Tipton) and someone has to emerge and develop next year,” Meeks said. “That has to happen.”
Preparation pays off for 59ers: Officially, Andrean won its semistate matchup with West Lafayette on Friday night, in the form of a 52-7 thrashing of the visiting Devils.
As is often the case in football, however, Andrean probably won this game in its seven days of preparation leading up to the game.
“The coaches watched tons and tons of film. They lost sleep over it. They got us ready,” said Donovan Chandler, who had three catches for 78 yards, including a 25-yard TD pass on fourth-and-five in the first quarter.
Andrean’s defense turned in a masterful performance as well, holding the high-octane Devils’ offense to just 182 yards — 62 in the first half. But some of the players who helped prepare that unit for its dominance didn’t see much of the field that night.
“We had a bunch of young kids that had to play scout team offensive line against those guys all week, and we turned them loose,” said Andrean head coach Phil Mason. “They really hung in there and did a great job.”
Staff writer LaMond Pope and correspondents Dave Melton and Brian Peloza contributed