The Mishawaka Cavemen had high expectations coming into the 2012 season.
Reaching Regionals were among the goals and here the Cavemen are, ready to host Hammond Morton Friday Night for a spot in the 4A Semi-State in our Martin's Spotlight Game of the Week.
The road to regionals was a lot bumpier than expected, however.
Mishawaka began the season at just 2-3. Head coach Bart Curtis says the tough early season competition prepared his squad for dealing with adversity and overcoming it. The Cavemen won the final four games of the regular season and entered the post-season with momentum.
Last Friday's sectional championship against Washington at School Field proved to be a microcosm of the season as the Cavemen faced a ton of adversity early on, falling behind 28-7 at halftime.
"it was pretty somber in there," Curtis says of the halftime locker room. "It was kind of a surreal moment, facing the real reality of their football lives being over in a matter of 24 minutes."
But the Cavemen battled back. Scoring 21 unanswered to force overtime. In OT, Mishawaka went up by eight and then got a huge defensive stop on a 2-point conversion attempt as Bart's boys captured their 3rd sectional title in four years.
"Kids played their absolute tails off, never quit," a pumped up Curtis said moments after the win. "Washington is a class act. They brought it every play and we were fortunate to move on."
Now Mishawaka looks to win its 2nd ever regional title. What would that mean?
"Everything," claims senior fullback Tyler McDaniel. "This is all brotherhood--all we need. We need to move on, it would mean everything to move on past regionals and get to semi-state."
Mishawaka won its only regional title in 1991. They lost in the 5A regionals in 2009 and 2010.
"It would mean a lot," explains senior offensive lineman Treigh Seiler. "Since I've been here, we've gone to regionals twice and lost. It would be an honor to get Coach Curtis his first regional win."
All coach Curtis wants, is another Monday practice with his kids.
Kickoff Friday night is set for 7:30 at Steele Stadium.