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A COLUMN

New Haven leaves no doubt they are NHC champs

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The Bulldogs trounced Homestead to win first NHC title in school history

Saturday, October 19, 2013 - 1:34 am

New Haven senior Ariest Vasquez had a few honest words when he talked about the Bulldogs' loss to East Noble last week. The quote isn't exactly “fit to print” as they say, but he candidly said East Noble outplayed them, costing them a chance to clinch the outright Northeast Hoosier Conference championship then.

So on senior night, with 21 New Haven seniors playing their final regular season game and a second chance to give the Bulldogs an outright and first NHC crown in the school's history, they playedtheir best.

Vasquez certainly led the way, rushing for three touchdowns and addinga defensive one, too, in leading New Haven to a 45-20 victory overHomestead.

“It's our senior night and the seniors put it all in,” Vasquez said.“We didn't want to share it (the conference championship) with anyone else.”

Vasquez and New Haven got it started early and kept it going against the Spartans, who had no answer for the Bulldogs offense in the first half. Vasquez on the first drive carried, and I mean carried, Homestead defenders down the field.

His first time touching the ball, the Bulldogs ran him up the middle and he was hit early, but then dragged one defender, and then another, and a few more for 26 yards. This pattern continued on his next carry, a 15-yard touchdown. There wasn't a single Spartan defender that could tackle him in open space or by himself.

Homestead responded after that, but then Vasquez took over. He scored on a 13-yard run to give the Bulldogs a 14-7 lead they would never relinquish.

On the next possession, he even showed his defensive prowess. On a bad and fumbled snap by Homestead, Vasquez broke through the line and took the football to the end zone. The celebration in New Haven had basically begun in the second quarter.

“East Noble, it was a game that refocused and reenergized them, and I think we showed them tonight,” New Haven head coach Jim Rowland said.“They're just relentless. They have confidence and don't get over confident, and they play hard, and they like to play together and love each other and it shows.”

Watching Vasquez rip through the Homestead defense put no doubt they would be beating the Spartans after losing to them eight times in arow. You could tell there was determination behind his running and behind everyone on the New Haven sideline.

On the Homestead side of things, though, the Spartans program has alot to think about the next few days before a rematch with the Tranquill brothers and Carroll next week to open sectionals. Homestead has its first three-game losing streak since 1994 and ended the season 1-4.

The Homestead offense everyone is used to seeing year in and year out isn't there, but remember the name Ben Skowronek. The sophomore receiver and quarterback Logan Ormsby will be a lethal tandem next year and the Spartans will be back, but it has a week to try and get things right this season.

That same week is what New Haven quickly turned its mind to as well. Rowland said he'd enjoy the conference championship for a half hour before turning his focus to the first round sectional game against South Side. It's the mark of senior-laden team that the players felt the same way. Vasquez may have said it best about what the seniors want when thinking about the NHC championship.

“It's just the first step.”

Batuello bits

-- So, who had North Side winning the SAC to start the year? I certainly didn't, nor did The Pig or almost anyone that wasn't a player or supporter of the school.

That doesn't matter now, though, as the Redskins took care of business in beating Northrop soundly like they should. LoVett once again was a force offensively in scoring multiple touchdowns in the first quarter as North Side ran away with the win.

The Victory Bell will now be doused in red and white for the first time since 1991, the last time North Side won an SAC title. It's also a well-earned outright conference crown for the Redskins, who haven't done that since 1988.

State Street better get used to hearing a ringing sound.

-- After a season of upsets across the area, last night went mostly to plan, except for the Concordia Cadets traveling to play Brebeuf Jesuit. Behind quarterback David Morrison, Concordia got a huge 34-27 statement win over the No. 4 team in 3A.

Concordia has put together a solid season after starting the year 0-2. It's only loss since then was to Snider, a game it came within converting a 2-point conversion of winning.

The Cadets now must be taken as a serious threat in the state tournament. Its offense has put up more than 30 points its last three games with the Ball State commit Morrison at the helm, but that's not the only strength.

Its defense was a big reason for the win streak, holding teams to 14 points or less in five straight games until Brebeuf last night.

With the confidence last night's win brings, the biggest for the program in years, Concordia will be running high as it heads into sectionals, as a favorite to win it nonetheless.

-- Leo did what it's supposed to do beating Bluffton badly, winning the ACAC and going undefeated for the second time in three years. The Lions ran through their regular season, with its only close game being a 14-7 win over Woodlan.

With its strong running game and a defense that hasn't given up more than 12 points in a game all year, Leo is well-suited to continue its success into the postseason. Yet, still, the question remains of exactly how good is this team?

The ACAC is no juggernaut of a conference, but we'll find out soon enough where Leo stacks up. Barring an upset, the Lions should meet East Noble in the second round of sectionals, and the Knights have a propensity for playing their best against good competition. Just ask Carroll and New Haven about that.

This column is the commentary of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of The News-Sentinel. Email Jonathan Batuello at nssports@news-sentinel.com.