FORT WAYNE — The Saints of Bishop Dwenger High School, Fort Wayne, ended their quest for a fifth football state championship title last week with a matchup against Evansville Central that went down in the record books.
Although the highly touted Fort Wayne team left Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis satisfied, their 16-10 win tested everything from the team’s faith to the limits of IHSAA playoff rules.
If the players thought their hard-fought season had forged them into a playoff-ready team, they may have been caught off guard by a Friday morning reminder to continue to look to the Lord —when their bus broke down on the way to the stadium.
The Fort Wayne Journal Gazette quoted senior linebacker TJ McGarry later as saying: “Coach (Jason Garrett) always said, ‘What more could we want than adversity?’ We fight through adversity in every single way. So why not, in this last final game, biggest game of the season, have as much adversity as can be thrown at us and still come out on top?”
“‘We had an impromptu speech from the graduating class of ‘83 in the rest stop, for the first bus, getting us hyped,’” McGarry said. ‘They told us everything it meant to them and the alumni. And the whole situation was handled very well by everyone on the team.’”
Once the game began, a pattern of missed field goals on both sides, the evenly matched offenses and strong defenses meant that four quarters and two overtimes weren’t enough for either side to break through and put points on the scoreboard. It was the first high school state championship game to end regulation play with a 0-0 score.
No previous title game had gone more than two overtimes, but in the second OT each team completed field goals, which tied them at 3 points. In third overtime, both scored touchdowns: The 10-10 score forced a fourth overtime, during which Bishop Dwenger’s T.J. Tippmann scored for the win.
“I’m sorry somebody had to lose that one,” head coach Garrett said. “My hat’s off to Evansville.”
Following the game, the IHSAA Executive Committee named senior linebacker and team captain McGarry the winner of the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award in Class 4A Football for his outstanding athletic skills in football and track, his academic achievement and his extracurricular involvement.
This is the fifth state title in Bishop Dwenger history, and Garrett’s first win – in his first season as the team’s head coach. He gave the credit, however, to his players.
“We knew it was going to be a fight. We anticipated adversity, and they overcame,” Garrett said.
Bishop Dwenger ends the season with a 14-1 overall record. The school hosted a championship celebration assembly for the team Wednesday, Nov. 28.
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