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Greg Jones

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Luers at Dwenger, 7 p.m.
Concordia at Brebeuf, 7 p.m.
Gary Wallace at S. Side, 7 p.m.
North Side at Northrop, 7 p.m.
Bellmont at East Noble, 7 p.m.
Carroll at DeKalb, 7 p.m.
Homestead at New Haven, 7 p.m.
Norwell at Columbia City, 7 p.m.
Heritage at Garrett, 7 p.m.
Leo at Bluffton, 7 p.m.
So. Wells at South Adams, 7 p.m.
Woodlan at Adams C., 7 p.m.
Central Noble at Angola, 7 p.m.
Churubusco at Lakeland, 7 p.m.
Fremont at West Noble, 7 p.m.
Prairie Hgts at Eastside, 7:30 p.m.
Hunt. North at New Castle, 7 p.m.
Tippy Valley at Whitko, 7 p.m.
Warsaw at Concord, 7:30 p.m.
Wawasee at Goshen, 7:30 p.m.
Wayne at Snider, 7 p.m.
Cathie Rowand | The Journal Gazette
North Side coach Ryan Hall has the Redskins on the verge of their first SAC championship since 1991.

Dwenger loss put Redskins on path to title

– A 32-28 loss to Bishop Dwenger on Sept. 6, in which North Side lost an 18-point second-half lead, clouded the SAC championship picture for the Redskins. But through a renewed outlook and some help from other teams, the Redskins’ championship hopes have cleared up.

And tonight against Northrop, North Side has a chance to get that picture on the championship wall at the school.

“There are still older guys who come and check out those old pictures,” North Side coach Ryan Hall said of the hallway of pictures of title-holders in the city, SAC and postseason. “We talked about it Saturday, and I told them their first championship was right there in front of them. You will be on the wall, and that’s something they can never take away from you.

“We felt like we wasted an opportunity. If we would have beaten Dwenger, we would have already clinched the title. It wouldn’t matter what we did Friday. We talked about wasting that opportunity, and now we are blessed with another opportunity. They worked hard to get the second opportunity.”

A win by North Side (5-3, 5-1 SAC) against Northrop (2-6, 1-5) would give the Redskins their first conference championship since 1991 and the first outright title since 1988. The Redskins also won SAC football titles in 1987, 1984 and 1979.

The picture on the wall would go up alongside the conference championship won by the boys basketball team last year.

“It feels good for us to be coming close to a SAC championship,” North Side junior quarterback Mike Lovett said. “We are just coming out here and working hard every day and giving it our all.”

Snider is also 5-1 in the SAC, but North Side holds the head-to-head tiebreaker after a 27-13 win three weeks after the loss to the Saints. Dwenger lost to Snider 38-35 last week to give North Side a second chance.

The loss to Dwenger dropped North Side to 1-2, and a setback to Mishawaka two weeks later made North Side 2-3. The Redskins have won three straight, all in the SAC, since then.

“That game (Dwenger) made us go harder and boosted us to work even harder every day,” Lovett said. “Then we weren’t so used to each other. Then we started waiting after practice to develop some chemistry, and we started playing together, playing like a family.”

The three losses were by a combined nine points, including 42-40 to Delta and 17-14 to Mishawaka.

“It helped losing to Dwenger because we saw what a loss in the conference can do to you,” said Hall, who was in eighth grade the last time the Redskins won an SAC championship.

“We broke out the ‘hold the rope’ speech. It’s the first time I have ever done it. We got a rope that is on our locker room floor. Every time we have a meeting, they hang on to it. That’s all about accountability. It is a great group of seniors, and they are like brothers. They don’t want to let each other down, or let the team down.”

It’s pretty simple for North Side, a win and they are conference champions. A win provides no more regrets and what-ifs.

Greg Jones is the high school sports editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in the Fort Wayne area since 1998. He can be reached by email; phone, 461-8224; or fax 461-8648.