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OSIPOFF: Despite loss, Cardinals still show a lot of pride

East Chicago Central Martayveus Carter heads up field IHSAA football semi-state Fort wayne Ind. Friday Nov. 22 2013. Joe Raymond

East Chicago Central Martayveus Carter heads up field in the IHSAA football semi-state in Fort wayne, Ind. Friday Nov. 22, 2013. Joe Raymond ~For Sun-Times Media

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Updated: December 24, 2013 6:14AM



FORT WAYNE — Well after the game had concluded, chants of “We are … EC!!!” still were emanating from Zollner Stadium.

That was the sort of pride this East Chicago Central football team engendered.

Of course, there were plenty of tears in the aftermath of the Cardinals’ 38-0 loss to Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger in a Class 4A semistate on Friday night. But nothing can detract from what they achieved, winning the first sectional and regional titles in school history.

“This was a fantastic team,” East Chicago coach Stacy Adams said. “They accomplished things no one thought they could do. I love these guys for that.

“I just feel great for these kids, because they can take this with them, they will remember this for the rest of their lives. Yeah, they’re going to remember they lost in the semistate game, but they’re going to remember they took a team farther than any other team.”

To their credit, the Cardinals never quit, against an opponent that won its eighth semistate title (to go along with a state-record 18 regional championships and 22 sectionals). There were moments of frustration, understandably, but they continued to compete until the end. Adams gave the players a choice — they could either start running the ball to get a jump on the trip back to the region or keep fighting. The answer was resounding.

After the game, the seniors locked arms and walked the length of the field from one end zone to the other and back. As freshmen, they won five games; as sophomores, seven; as juniors, nine; and this season, 11.

“We started from the bottom, and we put our team on the map,” Martayveus Carter said. “Now we’re not only a basketball team school, we’re a football team school, too.”

Said Juan Sepulveda: “It feels great to give your city, your town, some more spirit, some more light.”

Even as East Chicago fell behind early, its sizeable contingent of fans still was jacked up for the second-half kickoff. Whenever the Cardinals made a play — a 30-yard scramble by Carlos Fernandez, two second-half fumble recoveries — they cheered. An air horn blared. The Cardinals mascot was, um, flying around throughout the game.

“I told these guys it was my pleasure to coach them,” Adams said. “You never know when this is going to happen for EC again. This group brought together 500, 600, 700 fans from 150 miles. When was the last time that happened for a football game? It was just great for the community and the school, what this team did.”



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