Mike Moore | The Journal Gazette Quarterback Norman Knapke will try to keep tradition going for Bishop Luers tonight against Mishawaka Marian.@cutline: on Friday throws an incomplete pass late in second period against the Cadets at Bishop Luers on Friday.
Friday, November 10, 2017 1:00 am
Tradition key factor for teams in playoffs
GREG JONES | The Journal Gazette
Carmel vs. Snider, 7:30 p.m.
Bishop Dwenger at Angola, 7 p.m.
Mishawaka Marian at Bishop Luers, 7:30 p.m.
Woodlan at North Newton,
Tradition plays an integral part in successful high school football programs, especially when it comes to the postseason.
Teams such as Snider, Bishop Dwenger and Bishop Luers are among the state leaders of success in the playoffs, and it is no coincidence why. And again, those three programs are keeping their state championship hopes alive with appearances in tonight's regional championship games.
“The coaches at those schools (Snider, Dwenger, Luers), as they are preparing their teams they are preparing them with the playoffs in mind,” Snider coach Kurt Tippmann said. “That's always part of the plan. You structure things in the summer in your teaching not just to beat this opponent or that opponent, but to be good enough to make postseason runs.”
Snider is second in the state with 26 sectional titles, Dwenger is fourth with 24, and Luers is sixth with 23. Dwenger is second with 19 regional titles, Luers is third with 18 and Snider is tied for eighth with 16.
Luers is third in the state with 11 state championships and has a social media-led slogan of “Chasing 12.” The Knights are also the atop the semistate champions list with 15, tying them with 15 state championship game appearances.
“Even when the kids come in during the summer, we like to give them a reminder of the championships,” Luers coach Kyle Lindsay said. “We bring them up early on because there are so many expectations that we can't control. We talk about tradition in the sense that there are going to be expectations here in and outside of the program ... it's a reality we have to face. We also talk about tradition in that there has been a lot of proud football players come through this program that put in the blood, sweat and tears.”
This season, Dwenger had to remind some of its younger players about the tradition within the program. So veteran coach Chris Svarczkopf played a video made during the 2015 Class 4A state championship season that chronicled the Game Day traditions at the school.
“This year we struggled with that, especially with our young players,” Svarczkopf said. “They didn't understand a lot of the traditions.”
The video also had interviews from some coaches who had a big part of the Saints' tradition, including the late Fred Tone before his death from cancer, as well as former coach and athletic director at the school, Andy Johns.
Svarczkopf admitted to crying after watching the video again.
“We didn't think the younger players really understood and had an appreciation for all those traditions,” Svarczkopf said. “We immediately had the best practice we've ever had, and it has played pretty well ever since.”
Dwenger has a saying about tradition that is on the flag that's carried into every game: “traditions are not entrusted to the weak of the timid.”
“When you think about traditions, one word stands out, and that is – expectations,” Svarczkopf said.
On a daily basis, former Snider players send messages or visit a Snider practice or the locker room to give words of encouragement and to remind the current Panthers of what their accomplishments were to give the present some motivation by hearing about the past.
A math teacher, Tippmann still embraces the history of the Snider program.
“It gives them a sense of confidence that they can do it despite whatever the opponent is and whoever they are,” Tippmann said. “Other teams have done it in our program, so why can't we?' That's the way tradition feeds and helps teams. The proof is in recent success and the kids have an easier time believing that they can do it.
“Each senior class wants to leave their own legacy, and they don't want to be the team who didn't win a championship. They don't want to be the team who had a short playoff run ... I don't know if it is a help or a hindrance because maybe it puts pressure on them. That's something that is there, and they are aware of, and they don't want to let the history of the program down.”
Greg Jones is the assistant sports editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1998. He can be reached by email at email@example.com; phone, 461-8224; or fax, 461-8648.