Mishawaka football prepares for like-minded opponent in Warsaw

Published: Sep. 20, 2023 at 7:29 PM EDT
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - A lot of eyes are on Notre Dame this weekend, as the Irish prepare to host the Ohio State Buckeyes in a top 10 showdown at Notre Dame — but that doesn’t mean we’re overlooking the high school football slate here in Michiana.

This week’s Monteith’s Best One Spotlight Game of the Week features two teams from the Northern Lakes Conference who are unbeaten in league play.

The Warsaw Tigers come into Friday’s matchup at Mishawaka undefeated and ranked No. 9 in Class 6A. The Cavemen, who are 4-1 with their lone loss coming to Penn in the Backyard Brawl, are No. 7 in Class 5A.

Both teams are 3-0 in NLC play, and the winner of Friday night’s showdown at Steele Stadium is in the driver’s seat to claim the league title.

16 Sports stopped by Mishawaka’s practice Wednesday to ask the Cavemen to ask them how important it is to not be riding shotgun down the stretch.

“So important,” said safety Jack Troyer. “We lost to NorthWood, so we didn’t get the NLC championship last year, and so it’s just a big part for our seniors this year to win it all.”

“It’s a very important game,” said offensive lineman Eddie Rodriguez. “I think that all of us as a team are ready, and we are very excited for that game.”

“This is a really important game that we need to come out with a victory with because whoever wins this game is probably going to be the winner of the NLC,” said fellow offensive lineman Ethan Williams.

“Our goals are to win the conference and win the sectional,” said head coach Keith Kinder. “Those are our first two goals every year, and I’ve told our kids this week, ‘If we’re not successful on Friday, I do not believe we’ll win the conference.’ Now, if we are successful, we still got some work to do, but I do believe not being successful eliminates us.”

Anytime a Keith Kinder-led Mishawaka team faces a Bart Curtis-led Warsaw team, it’s going to be fun. The longtime friends are taking their unique triple option offenses against each other.

16 Sports also asked the Cavemen what it’s like preparing to essentially face themselves.

“It’s not fun because you can watch yourself into a circle in film,” Kinder said. “The more you watch, the more you know the answers that he’s going to have. The more you want to adjust and tweak, and then at some point you just gotta say, ‘Well, it is what it is.’ And we gotta get our kids ready the best we can, so it’s not fun.”

“We see it all summer, playing against our own varsity team, so we’re prepared for it,” Troyer said.

“It’s actually pretty cool. I like it,” Rodriguez said. “You know it’s someone we go against that we know, obviously like you said, we do the same thing, and it really is cool. I like it.”

Kickoff on Friday night at Steele Stadium in Mishawaka is set for 7 p.m. 16 Sports will be live at the stadium on Friday night with a preview of the big matchup.

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