Bishop Dwenger continued its dominance of postseason opponents on Friday, blowing out No. 8 New Haven 42-7 on Friday to win a regional crown and advance to host East Chicago Central (11-2) next week in the Class 4A North Semistate.
The result will surely have many buzzing about the debate that has raged all season in the battle between the SAC and NHC. Yes, the SAC third-place Saints owned NHC champion New Haven on Friday, but no one involved with Bishop Dwenger really cares at this point about such things.
Instead, the Saints are one more win away from their first state finals appearance since 2010.
Three years doesn't seem like a long time between championship games, but for Bishop Dwenger, it may as well be three decades. The overriding question regarding the Saints entering this season was about the struggles of the past two seasons, including the first under-.500 campaign since 2000 one year ago.
Every intelligent person that follows Northeast Indiana football knew that Bishop Dwenger would not stay down for long, that its 12 losses over the last two campaigns was more the result of overly talented classes graduating and injuries than spotty coaching or the overall decline of a program.
You know you are an established program when going 13-12 over two years has people wondering what has happened to a particular program.
On Friday, the Saints continued to show that not only has Bishop Dwenger not gone anywhere, it is still as fundamentally sound and skilled in its execution as any program in the area.
New Haven had absolutely no answer for senior quarterback Mike Fiacable, who threw for 200 yards and a touchdown and rushed for 62 yards and three more scores. His ability to extend plays with his feet while Bulldogs defenders chased him out of the pocket was almost comedic to watch, while equally excruciating for New Haven fans to witness.
As he has been all season, Ryan Watercutter was a matchup nightmare, notching six catches for 137 yards while completely outclassing the New Haven defensive backs assigned to defend him. He even made an interception in the end zone look easy in the third quarter that killed all hopes of a Bulldogs comeback.
New Haven's success this season has come primarily on the backs of two players - Vasquez and wide receiver Jordan Hogue. Even when not at the center of the offense, opposing defenses had to scheme against the duo, opening up opportunities for other players.
But Bishop Dwenger frustrated both of them. Hogue was held to six catches for 71 yards and was blanketed on nearly every play. Vasquez finished with 201 yards rushing as the do-everything back showed his skills again. But the Saints made him work for every yard, with 31 carries needed for those 201 yards.
Consider that Vasquez's first two carries went for 95 yards, while his next 29 went for just 106 yards, good for 3.6 yards a carry. This for a player who entered Friday averaging 11 yards per rush for the season.
More than any previous season, Bishop Dwenger Coach Chris Svarczkopf's team has taken on his personality. It is not flashy or excitable, but goes about its business on an even keel. When something good happens, the team celebrates and moves on to the next play. When something bad goes down, there is no panic or dissention, but rather the same approach in terms of moving forward.
There are no sure-fire Division I prospects on the Saints roster, or standout players that clearly lead the way. It is rather a team that works together and shares the load for a common goal.
That common goal, a state title, is now only two victories away.