By Rick Conrad
For the Pharos-Tribune
WINAMAC — Winamac came out swinging with the heavyweight of Class A, but the champ had too many weapons for the Warriors.
Winamac’s season came to a close at Roudebush Field Friday night by falling to No. 1-ranked Lafayette Central Catholic, 49-14, in a regional game.
“Unfortunately, we didn’t deal with them like we felt we could have,” said Winamac coach Tim Roth. “The interception that set up a score and the fumble they returned for a touchdown just took the wind out of our sails.”
The Warriors (9-4) got on the scoreboard first against the Knights by capping a nine-play drive that ended with Keegan Kasten taking it in from one yard out for a 7-0 lead with 10:20 left in the second quarter. The score was set up by a nice 70-yard pass from Zach Shidler to Parker Fox.
Central Catholic (12-1) took to the air on its next series and tied things up at the 8:13 mark of the second. Then, the Warriors’ first turnover came on the second play of their drive when Shidler was picked off by Joe Smith at the 39-yard line and he returned it to the 3. Following a pair of penalties Will Jones went in from 7 yards out to make it a 14-7 game.
Lightning struck again on the Warriors next series. Starting on its own 30-yard line, Winamac had moved the ball to the Knights’ 25. Kasten took the handoff right side but coughed the ball up. LCC defensive back John Paul Santos scooped up the loose ball and outran the Winamac tacklers for another score making it 21-7.
Winamac settled down and began moving the ball again on the Knights. With just under a minute to go before half-time, Shidler took a bootleg the final 33 yards for the score bringing Winamac to within 21-14 at the :56 mark.
Unfortunately on the Knights’ first play, quarterback Ty Preston found Timmy Mills wide open and hit him for a 44-yard TD strike, and LCC took a 28-14 lead into the half.
Then the wheels came off for the Warriors and it was all Central Catholic the rest of the way. After halftime adjustments had been made, the Knights dominated up front and the offense was on the move. LCC scored twice in the third quarter on a 13-yard run by Jones and a 4-yard pass reception by Jarrod Patzschke. At the end of three quarters LCC was up 42-14.
The Knights’ last score came with 11:15 to go when Brad Schrader took it in from 11 yards out making it the 49-14 final.
With the win, the three-time defending state champion Knights will be bumped up to Class 2A next season under the IHSAA’s new classification rule.
“They’re good. The thing that surprised me was how their offensive line just took over in the second half,” Roth said. “They pounded us into the ground. We’ve got some beef up front but we just couldn’t get off our blocks. Too many weapons. We’re not there yet. We’ll work hard this winter, but we’ve got a lot of work to do.
“This year’s seniors were a great group of young men. They’re a great group of football players, but they’re even better young men. They’ll do well in life because they know what it means to work hard for something. They’ve all worked their butts off for us this year. They’re champions and nobody can take that away from them.”