SPARTANS REPRESENT END OF THE ROAD

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Written By Ink Free News / Sports on Saturday, November 7, 2020

Warsaw’s Russ Winchester gets a hit on Homestead’s Evan Ormsby during Friday night’s football sectional championship. InkFreeNews photos by Nick Goralczyk

By Nick Goralczyk
InkFreeNews

WARSAW – In a season that provided so many fantastic memories and plenty of high-flying plays in all three phases of the game, Warsaw was unable to get that one last possession it needed in Friday’s IHSAA Class 6-A Sectional 3 championship.

Facing an eight-point deficit and just over a minute to play, the Warsaw football team needed a good bounce on an onside kick to keep the magic alive for 2020. Instead, there was no bounce. No mad rush for a loose ball. No nail-biting final possession or late game heroics. Just a quick recovery by Homestead, three kneels downs and a bitter taste in the mouths of the Warsaw faithful. The Tigers season was over as they watched on while No. 8 Homestead celebrated a 30-22 victory at Dave Walters Field.

To say that things started good for Warsaw on offense would be an understatement. The Tigers received the game’s opening kick and went on a 13-play, 80-yard drive to score the game’s first points. Warsaw’s drive ate up an eye-popping 7:50 and ended with a Juan Jaramillo touchdown run. It could not have started better for the visitors on offense.

Defensively, that was another story.

While Warsaw showed just how methodical it could be on its opening offensive drive, Homestead displayed its explosiveness. Evan Ormsby found Nate Anderson for a 79-yard touchdown on the Spartans very first play to tie things up 7-7.

“When we took eight minutes off the clock to go up 7-0 and then 10 seconds later its tied, that’s deflating,” explained Warsaw head coach Bart Curtis.

Warsaw quarterback Aaron Greene works upfield against Homestead.

As deflating as it may have been the Tigers, to their credit, did not tuck their tales and run from big, bad Sparty. Homestead took a 14-7 lead in the second quarter with another Ormsby scoring pass, this time to Gage Sparrow. The Spartans threatened to expand that lead on another successful drive that was cut short by a Mason Martz interception for Warsaw.

The turnover led to the Tigers second score of the night. Warsaw capped an 89-yard drive with a one-yard Jaramillo run to tie things up at 14 with just 42 seconds to play in the first half. Homestead would add a field goal to lead 17-14 at the break.

Just as Warsaw had implemented a picture perfect drive to start the first quarter, Homestead engineered a beautiful drive of its own to start the third. Once again it was Ormsby finding Sparrow for the score, a missed PAT left the game at 23-14 in Homestead’s favor with 6:52 left to play in the frame.

The game truly turned in momentum on the ensuing Warsaw possession. The Tigers faced a fourth-and-seven on its own 23 and elected to go for it. The right play was drawn up as Warsaw quarterback Aaron Greene rolled out and loaded up a pass to a wide open Juan Jaramillo, but Homestead’s Max Schiltz got his hands up and batted the pass right back down at Greene’s feet.

Warsaw’s defense held Homestead to a fourth-and-two on the following drive but the Spartans ran a flawless reverse to Sparrow who went 15-yards for the score. The Tigers trailed 30-14 going into the fourth.

“We played well enough defensively the second half to win,” Curtis stated. “And we didn’t play well enough offensively in the second half to win.”

Warsaw definitely need more from its offense in the final 24 minutes. The Tigers failed on three fourth down attempts and rushed for under 100 yards in the second half. Greene suffered a shoulder injury in the first half, which limited some of the play calling in the final two quarters. But when called upon to toss it up, Greene still managed to put some zip on the ball. The senior connected with Julius Jones on a long pass to set up a touchdown pass to Luke Adamiec. Greene connected with Adamiec on the two-point try as well. But with just 1:27 to play after the Tigers final score and no breaks on the onside, it was all too little, too late.

Warsaw finished with 293 rushing yards. Jaramillo led the way with 118 yards on the ground while Greene tallied 99 on the ground and 43 through the air. The Tigers forced the only two turnovers of the game with interceptions by Martz and Nick Katris.

Despite winning a 6-A sectional last year and handling No. 12 Carroll last week, the Tigers still found themselves searching for respect in the state at the 6-A level. While the Spartans left with the ticket to regional, Warsaw can still hang its hat on being a 6-A program on the rise.

“We belong,” Curtis said before adding, “But we have to make the plays. Credit to (Homestead). They made the plays. (Homestead) hit the crossers and posts for touchdowns. We didn’t make some crucial fourth down conversions and (Homestead) did and good for them. (Homestead) deserved the trophy tonight.

“I thought we played hard enough to win the trophy but we didn’t play well enough to win the trophy. I’m proud of how stinkin’ hard our kids played but it didn’t go our way. I’m disappointed for our seniors. They’re a great group. They put an awful lot of time and energy into this and it’s a tough way to end.”

Warsaw wraps its season at 8-3. Homestead improves to 10-1 and will travel to No. 2 Westfield (10-1) next Friday night.

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