INDIANAPOLIS – Trailing 3-0 at halftime, the No. 3 Saints rallied for four scores over the final two quarters, three coming on Amaun Clark runs, to down No 9 East Central. It’s Fort Wayne Dwenger’s fourth state title and first since 1991.
The Saints did it without, but inspired by, longtime Dwenger coach Chris Svarczkopf, who is battling cancer. Ernie Bojrab stepped in as interim coach this season and led the Saints to a 14-1 record.
Also serving as inspiration for the Saints is former principal Fred Tone who is also battling cancer.
Clark finished with 138 yards rushing, gaining 94 of those after halftime. His 24-yard score gave the Saints their first lead of the game with 7:29 left in the third quarter.
Clark added a 4-yarder early in the fourth quarter, capping a 91-yard drive keyed by quarterback Blake Podschlne’s 49-yard pass to Zach Norton.
An interception by Austin Burns was returned to the East Central 23, setting up Clark’s 11-yard score less than three minutes later. Another interception led to Podschlne’s 1-yard touchdown run with 3:41 remaining.
While the Dwenger offense started clicking the second half, its defense took over, holding East Central (12-3) to 64 yards over the final two quarters. The Trojans finished the game with 172 yards – 215 below their average. Dwenger’s defense also forced four turnovers.
Dwenger drove 55 yards on its first possession but couldn’t convert on fourth down at the Trojan 25. That was the only significant drive of the first half until East Central drove 85 yards – keyed by a third-down unsportsmanlike penalty on the Saints and a 43-yard Doug Rosemeyer run – to set up Nick Stidham’s 20-yard field goal with 6:07 left in the half.
The final score was 27-3.
East Central was making its first appearance in the state finals since making back-to-back 4A appearances in 1993 and 1994 and winning the title in 1994.