Mishawaka will battle Cathedral Saturday at 3:30 at Lucas Oil Stadium for the 4A State Championship.
The Cavemen go as their quarterback Sam Schrader goes.
Schrader broke onto the scene in 2010.
"Sophomore year--hook and ladder--Sectional Championship," recalls senior running back Matt Carver who is best friends with Schrader and calls #11 the team's leader.
Schrader engineered the hook and ladder that year to perfection and Mishawaka beat Penn in overtime to capture the sectional championship in the snow.
Two years later, it's the only thing bigger. he has Mishawaka playing for a blue ring.
"It's just a great feeling to be a part of something bigger than yourself," Schrader, a senior, explains. "Mishawaka football means so much to me."
And He means so much to it.
"He's meant an awful lot," says Cavemen football coach Bart Curtis. "You value a player--particularly a quarterback by what the team would be if he weren't around. So I guess you could take it from there."
I don't think anyone wants to follow that.
"Without him I don't know where we would be," says senior fullback Tyler McDaniel.
Probably not playing for State. Just check out the way he inspired his teammates before last Friday's Semi-State game.
"They're trying to take everything we worked for," Schrader yelled to his teammates in the pregame warmups as he sat on top of the shoulders of some of his teammates. "We're so close. 48 minutes--we're going to play harder for 48 minutes."
Schrader then took the Cavemen on his back. In the final minute, he engineered the game wining drive that sends Mishawaka to the state finals for the first time since 1974.
"I've played in so many games in these four years--so many meaningful games and this is a great feeling going out senior year with a bang like this," Schrader said moments after the win over Concord.
On Saturday---Schrader makes his 39th career start. And it will be for the state title. What will that be like?
"I wish I could tell you," Schrader explains shaking his head. "I'm sure it's going to be great--great feeling. A lot people there. I'm just excited to enjoy it with my friends, my family. It's going to be a great feeling."
His Mishawaka football family.