To Concordia Football Fans,
One of the happy times in my recent life involves watching football games, and I don’t mean watching the Packers play.
In the last 55 years I have been a Concordia Lutheran High School sports fan, and I have seen my share of losses. Our kids always played hard, but being a small school in a conference that includes some of the biggest high schools in the state has made Friday nights a repetition of the David and Goliath battle with David being on the losing end. But not this year. Concordia’s David caught the spirit this year, and after losing a fairly close game against Snider (last year’s class 6A state champion and this year’s Semi-State runner up) and a second loss against Homestead on a field goal kick that bounced back rather than over the cross bar, Concordia players and fans began to realize that we had a team that was special. It took the state rankings awhile to catch up.
By mid season after we had beaten Bishop Dwenger for only the third time that I can remember, they had us ranked 7th among 3A schools. From that time on we featured what the newspaper called an “Offensive Scoring Machine,” averaging over 40 points a game. Our defense also came alive and seldom allowed more than 20 points, which usually came at the end of the game with many of our reserves playing.
Now how did this all happen? During the summer, the team members got together and convinced a senior who had played only wide receiver for three years to switch to quarterback. He did with the promise of his receivers that they would put in extra practice time running routes so that their routes and timing would be coordinated.
Concordia already had a returning running back who was second team all city the previous year, so now they added several scoring threats which were receivers who really knew how to catch a football. The head coach also put an assistant who had been a small college All-American quarterback in the scouting booth so that he could read the defenses and suggest the next play to the head coach and quarterback on the field. The quarterback threw passes with exceptional accuracy and the receivers made some great catches. As soon as the opposing team put the rush on the quarterback, he gave the ball to the full back that broke arm tackles like pretzels and had many 100-plus yard games.
Meanwhile, the fans, I included, went nuts watching their team that had more times than not been on the losing end of the score win one game after another so that every time they got the ball we expected a touchdown and were seldom disappointed.
Many of these players played both ways, which hurt us in our first game against Snider who wore us down by the end of the game with their hurry-up offense. But after an 8-2 season we entered the state tourney against schools our own size. We breezed through the first two teams and in the sectional finals beat for the second time in the season Bishop Luers, another Catholic school that had a history of beating us. West Lafayette was next. In the first quarter they scored twice to our twice with their hurry-up offense probably after watching the Snider tapes, and then we pulled away, final score 62-27 for Concordia’s first time Regional championship.
We had to play at Garrett’s home field for the semi-state. The game was delayed for two hours until the lightning passed. Then we lit into them which looked to be another runaway, but they ended up coming back strong at the end and gave us the best fight of the tournament. Final score: Concordia 56 Garrett 42 in a downpour.
It was very hard on players and fans, but we had built such a lead that they couldn’t catch us. They had a very good full back that was hard to stop in the rain but our receivers had made some spectacular catches considering the conditions in the first three quarters to give us an insurmountable lead.
We went from terrible conditions to pristine conditions the next week in that we played at the Colts’ Lucas Oil Stadium. I shed my soaked overcoat for a lightweight jacket. I almost didn’t go to this game. I had made so many miserable trips coming back from Indy in the past, having watched wrestlers come so close and then fall short, having watched a baseball team, whose best player hit a line short with two men on in the ninth inning to the other team’s all state second baseman who made a spectacular stab for the last out. Also there was a lot of press on Lawrenceberg’s 220-pound full back who had over 3,000 yards in rushing for the season, and we had had trouble stopping the Garrett full back. I felt I might be a jinx. But I decided it wouldn’t be me out there. I wouldn’t have to take the blame or get the credit. So with many of my Bernabe family I loaded into my KIA, and they drove me to Indy.
I almost got lost at Lucas Oil Stadium. I already had my ticket, and they had to buy theirs. I was on the inside, and they on the out. No problem, I thought. I’ll just circle around to the ticket booth and meet them when they come in. I didn’t know where the outside ticket booth was located and neither did the workers at the stadium. They kept sending me to inside booths that were all closed. After circling the stadium three times, I finally just went into the seating section and looked for the Concordia seats, and there the lost lamb was found.
By half time, the game became boring and there was a great deal of sympathy for the Lawrenceberg team and fans. Concordia scored touchdowns almost every time we had our hands on the ball. We broke all the state records. Our quarterback, Peter Morrison, had 376 yards in passing with 6 touch downs. Our full back, Peterson Kerlegrand, had 199 yards in rushing, and 2 touchdowns. Two of our receivers had 117 yards each, and we had a defensive back that had two interceptions.
Morrison broke Rex Grossman’s record in completions and touchdowns. Rex became an NFL quarterback. Our coaches scouted their full back so well that if it had not been for our reserves playing at the end, he would not have had 100 yards. Final score: 56 to 14.
The players and fans were ecstatic, the band played, and we all sand the doxology. My only regret was that there were other Concordia fans that could not be there and one in particular I missed. We went to granddaughter Elsi’s apartment after the game and celebrated with a pizza party.
~ Bill Ihssen,
1998 Retired CLHS English and Religion teacher