December 2, 2015 // Local

State football champions, Bishop Dwenger Saints celebrate victory

By Michelle Castleman

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FORT WAYNE — Hailing from three hours south of Fort Wayne near St. Leon, Indiana, the East Central Trojans may have scored first at Lucas Oil Stadium on Saturday, Nov. 28, and led 3-0 at the half, but this year’s most coveted crown, a Class 4-A state championship ended up with the No. 3-ranked Bishop Dwenger Saints. The entire school, family members and media gathered to celebrate a fourth state football title in an assembly on Monday afternoon.

The sweet victory culminated a dazzling season and amazing playoff run for the Saints. A team full of stars, not just a standout or two, Bishop Dwenger completed a goal they set out to reach last summer. As they witnessed the daily battle with cancer for two special men this season, the team became more unified, more determined and more inspired to reach their goal.

Last summer, Coach Chris Svarczkopf (132-42), who had been at the helm of the Dwenger program and served as its heart and soul 13 seasons, handed over the head coaching reins to Interim Coach Ernie Bojrab, who led last year’s freshman squad to a 9-0 record.

The young men also had to do without the constant, visible support of beloved former principal and coach, Fred Tone, who was forced to spend more time in bed this season than the sidelines or classroom due to his immense pain.

Trailing at half time with a state championship on the line, Bishop Dwenger came exploding out of the locker room for four scores in the final two quarters — putting the explanation mark on their 2015 season.

In the win, Bishop Dwenger was able to gain an amazing 269 yards of offense against a notable East Central defense. Amaun Clark was brilliant running for three touchdowns. Bishop Dwenger’s double-threat, field general Blake Podschlne completed 10-16 passes and had a one-yard score, while Keenan Buenconsejo was good for three point after attempts to etch a final score of 27-3 in the Indiana record books and bring back a state title — after five trips since its last win in 1991.

Led by Frank Yanko’s eight tackles, the Dwenger defense had a stellar second half as well, equally making the win possible by forcing four turnovers and holding the Trojans, who entered the contest averaging nearly 400 yards per game, to just 172 yards.

Bojrab did the unheard of leading a squad who finished 4-6 a year ago and were blanked in their sectional opener to a 14-1 record with coaches he didn’t hire.

In a postgame interview with Indianapolis media, the humble leader quickly clarified this was not his team, “This is Coach Svarczkopf’s program, this is his coaching staff, these are his guys,” Bojrab said. “It all came together this year with the work ethic and perseverance of these kids and I’m very proud of them.”

Redeemer Radio’s Joe Wharton was most impressed with the team and entire coaching staff’s overall ability to adjust.

The commentator summarized, “This team struck me as one who genuinely cared for one another and were led by a great group of (32) seniors. They adjusted perfectly and made this season one worthy of a Hollywood script.”

At the Monday assembly, Svarczkopf embraced the role of emcee and opened with well-deserved thank yous — first to the special guests in attendance from the diocese, Bishop Kevin C. Rhoades and Superintendent of Catholic Schools Marsha Jordan. He continued thanking all those from top to bottom including the parents for their weekly pre-game meals, 42-year veteran statisticians, Dave Scudder and Carol Cornell and the inspiring team chaplain, Father Jacob Meyer.

After calling out the individual names of each of his invaluable coaching staff, Svarczkopf then explained how he chose the most positive, capable man for the interim position in Ernie Bojrab. The emotional display continued as Svarczkopf thanked his wife and doctors who have helped him along his difficult health journey this season. Finally, the coach thanked his players and warned them that their story has just begun and they will forever be remembered as a player on the 2015 championship team — for what they did and how they did it. He finished quoting Romans 5:3-4 which calls us to rejoice in our sufferings.

Bojrab was up next thanking everyone involved in any way with the 2015 season. Coach Tone received a second standing ovation and the four team captains each took a turn at the microphone. After the presentation of the state trophy and final blessing by the bishop, the school fight song resounded throughout the gym.

Coach Bojrab saw it was possible during the summer workouts and 7-on-7 competitions and Director of Football Operations John Eppard had been motivated with it on Aug. 21 back in the gym after the 28-15 opening loss to Bishop Luers, “There’s nothing wrong with a 14-1 state championship season.”


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