BLITZ: Warsaw emerging as a short-term and long-term threat to area 6A powers

Warsaw running back Juan Antonio Jaramillo pushes into contact from the Carroll defense during an October 30 Sectional game. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

The word “bubble” has become a part of our daily vernacular these days, what with the pandemic and all.

But the word can also be used to describe a few high school football situations.

Warsaw coach Bart Curtis loves the bubble his team is in. Far enough from both Fort Wayne and “The Region” to fly under the radar in both areas, the Tigers continue to build one of the more formidable higher-class programs in this part of the state.

Meanwhile, the bubble that encompasses Allen County and the SAC has many thinking that Sectional 3 is all about the big three- Carroll, Snider and Homestead. Warsaw? Eh, purely a field filler, a program that cannot stand up to the likes of Fort Wayne power.

Well, those bubbles collided on Friday night in Warsaw. It was Curtis and the Tigers who did the bubble popping, toppling Carroll 42-35 to advance.

“The adults in the stands know more about Carroll and how good they are than our players do,” Curtis said. “They didn’t know they were playing a very good team, they just approached it as another game.”

That may be a stretch, but Warsaw shocked many on Friday with its victory, one that earned the Tigers a date with Homestead next Friday.

Offensively, Warsaw finished just two yards shy of the program record for rushing yards in a game with 495 on the ground. Three players finished over 100 yards, Aaron Greene with 32 carries for 176 yards, Juan Antonio Juramillo at 34 rushes for 145 and Patrick Zollinger with nine carries for 142 yards.

On defense, the Tigers did not do anything overwhelming or dominant, but in picking off Jeff Becker three times and adding a forced fumble, they were able to stymie Carroll’s offense enough to pull out the win.

No turnover was as big as the one that came in the fourth quarter. Following Warsaw (8-2) taking its first lead of the game at 35-28, Carroll (7-3) began its march back downfield to tie it.

But on a zone read, Becker fake the handoff and took off around the edge, breaking a tackle, sidestepping out of another, then being hit and stripped of the football. The Tigers recovered, added to the lead with a seven-yard touchdown by Greene with 1:35 remaining in regulation and took down the Chargers.

Warsaw’s Aaron Greene works to gain yards against the defense of Carroll’s Craig McGinnis Jr. and Jorge Valdes during an October 30 Sectional game. (Photo by Leverage Photography)

On the other side, SAC fans tend to tout just how good the league is when it gets into the playoffs. Blitz totally understands the angle – just ask Huntington North and New Haven about facing lower-level SAC teams to open the playoffs, or previously undefeated Fairfield out of the NECC after being hammered by Bishop Luers on Friday.

But the SAC bubble is not impenetrable. Warsaw is infiltrating that bubble, not just in the short-term, but will be a threat for years to come as long as Curtis is there.

How the Tigers are doing that may be the most frustrating aspect of the situation to SAC lovers. Warsaw’s triple option attack is as refined as it gets at the high school level. It helps even the playing field against bigger and faster defenses. It worked on Friday, with Carroll struggling to manage outside containment against the QB scramble and the pitch. Adjustments were made at half, but it just opened up the middle for Warsaw success on the ground.

All told, the Tigers threw the ball just one time the entire game, barely needing anything from that part of the offense to get the win.

Whether Warsaw can beat Homestead next week isn’t really the question on Blitz’s mind right now. His thoughts revolve around the Tigers’ long-term prospects of being a thorn in the side of Fort Wayne 6A foes.

Warsaw wants to prove it belongs when talking about potential teams from the north who can make a run to Lucas Oil Stadium.

“We didn’t just beat the Sisters of the Poor, we beat a team that is really good,” Curtis said. “We want our program to be thought of as one capable of playing (competitive 6A football.)”

Achieving that is a big step, one that was taken on Friday. But there are plenty more steps to come.

These opinions represent those of Blitz and Outside the Huddle. No opinions expressed on Outside the Huddle represent those of any of our advertisers. Follow Blitz on Twitter at Blitz_OTH

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