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Written By Ink Free News / Sports on Saturday, October 31, 2020

Warsaw’s Patrick Zollinger (17) scored two touchdowns and ran for 142 yards in Friday’s 42-35 win over Carroll. InkFreeNews photos by Nick Goralczyk

By Nick Goralczyk

WARSAW – As Warsaw’s Isaiah Courtois ran to the sideline following an extra point to put the Tigers up 42-28 during Friday night’s win over Carroll, he looked to his team and said, “We’re built different.” Courtois, an unsung junior playing in the trenches for Warsaw this season, was not cocky or over the top with his statement. He was confident, assured.

It was more of a reminder to his team and a point driven home to a stunned Carroll squad: Warsaw football is different.

Despite a 7-2 regular season record, a share of the Northern Lakes Conference crown and being a defending IHSAA Class 6-A sectional champion, Warsaw found itself as an underdog to the visiting Chargers at Fisher Field. It seemed many media members from the Fort Wayne area already had plans for an all-Summit City title game between Carroll and Homestead next weekend. But what about Warsaw’s plans? It’s safe to say they were, well, different. The Tigers stunned No. 12 Carroll, 42-35, to punch a ticket to the sectional title game for the fourth time in five seasons.

If you can believe it, Friday night’s contest lacked the typical energy felt in a playoff setting. Warsaw found itself trailing 28-21 late in the third quarter. The Tigers were not playing panicked and the Chargers were not playing like a team that had a lead. It felt like the game had just kicked off and the teams were still feeling each other out despite 49 points already being rung up on the scoreboard. But that changed with a 35-yard run to the 10-yard line by Patrick Zollinger. That run by the Warsaw senior set up a short, two-yard score by Juan Jaramillo to tie the game 28-28 with just 30 seconds to spare in the third quarter.

Carroll assistant coach Andy Papagiannis (left) celebrates with Jeffrey Becker following a 58-yard touchdown pass in the first half of Friday’s sectional semifinal at Warsaw.

Zollinger was putting up big runs all night and would finish with 142 yards on the ground and two scores. Friday night was could have gone down as ‘the Patrick Zollinger game’ for Warsaw football. But, for whatever reason, that run late in the third provided the spark that Warsaw was looking for.

On the ensuing Carroll drive Luke Adamiec picked off Charger quarterback Jeffrey Becker. It was Adamiec’s second interception of the game and both were equally important in terms of momentum swings for the Tigers. Friday night could have gone down as ‘the Luke Adamiec game’ for Warsaw football.

Adamiec’s interception set up a 64-yard, 5:02 drive that ended with Zollinger’s second score of the night. With 6:59 to play, Warsaw had its first lead at 35-28.

Warsaw’s defense struck again once Carroll took over possession. This time it was Jonney Burritt making the big play as he forced a fumble on a scramble by Becker and recovered the loose ball. The tide had truly shifted and Warsaw was now going for the knockout punch. Aaron Greene had no problem delivering that blow with a seven-yard run to put the Tigers up 42-28 with just 1:35 left in the game.

Greene ran for a game-high 176 yards, passed for another 14, scored two touchdowns and added a key interception before the half while playing defense. Friday night could have gone down as ‘the Aaron Green game’ for Warsaw football.
Whether it was Greene, Adamiec, Zollinger or anyone in between, they all helped the Tigers run for 495 yards, three yards short of a school record.

“We want to be 6-A,” Warsaw head coach Bart Curtis stated. “We’re 6-A enrollment. We want our program to be thought of as a 6-A school. The advantage we have is our kids are out here in the middle of nowhere. So our kids don’t really know a lot about what’s up north, what’s east. It’s just the next game for our kids. They want to play. They enjoy playing.

“I guess you could say we focus on ourselves but the adults knew how good Carroll was, I don’t think the kids knew. We couldn’t simulate that during the week.”

The Chargers entered Friday’s game averaging over 47 points per game on offense and only surrendering 23 PPG on defense. The Tigers had their work cut out for them but never backed down. To steal Courtois’ line, Warsaw was built different.

“We are built different, we’re little,” Curtis said with a laugh. “Our kids practice a certain way, for moments like this. As do their kids. (Carroll) is built for spreading you out and throwing the ball around. (Carroll) is a good team. We didn’t just beat the Sisters of the Poor, we beat a team that is really good.

“To say we’re built different, our mode of operation allowed us to do that. Our kids are in an uncomfortable position, especially our offensive line, most of the time. We’re getting there. We’re making some strides toughness wise in this program. That’s what makes me happier than anything. We didn’t flinch when we got behind 28-21.”

Julius Jones had the other touchdown on the night for Warsaw, a five-yard run in the closing second of the first half. Jones finished his night with 57 yards on the ground. Jaramillo had 145 on the ground for Warsaw. Becker scored twice on the ground for Carroll and threw two other scores, one to Mason Englert and another to Jameson Coverstone for the game’s final score of the night. Luke Carmody had the other score for the Chargers. No individual stats were provided for the Chargers.

After not flinching with Carroll, Warsaw (8-2) will get to stare down No. 8 Homestead (9-1) next Friday. The Spartans were 28-10 winners over Snider Friday night. The Tigers last faced Homestead in the 2016 sectional championship, a 52-27 win for the Spartans. Homestead holds a 10-6 advantage all-time against Warsaw and a 2-1 advantage in postseason meetings with the Tigers. The location for Friday’s championship game is still pending.

Posted In: Boy's Sports > Football