“This team really believes that it can do special things,” seventh-year Cadet coach Tim Manigel said. “It’s amazing what you can do when you believe.”
If Manigel hadn’t instilled that type of faith and confidence in his players and coaching staff, the program would have never reached a point in which it could win a game like Friday’s.
The Cadets hadn’t beaten the Saints since 2003, and prior to that it was 1966 since the last Concordia win over Dwenger.
The Tim Manigel-era with the Cadets (4-2 SAC, 4-2 overall) didn’t start off by providing belief on anyone’s part; that is, outside of the Cadet locker room.
Concordia had won at least four games for nine consecutive seasons under former coach Dean Doerffler, but Manigel lost his first 12 games on the field (the Cadets were granted a win by forfeit over North Side in his first season), and the coach was 1-21 midway through his third year with the program.
“Every game, he comes in and tells us that we can compete with anybody in the conference,” Cadet senior Drew Bordner said. “We can. We’re a good enough team. We can compete with anybody we want to if we put our minds to it.”
With a team like the 2016 Cadets, Bordner – and his coach – have points.
The Cadets were explosive on both sides of the ball against Dwenger (4-2, 4-2), something that hasn’t always been the case with the Cadets.
“Our defense has probably been the big key to our success this year,” Concordia senior quarterback Peter Morrison said. “In past years, (the defense) hasn’t been as good as this year. But this year, we’ve turned it up another notch.”
In the last six seasons, Dwenger had averaged over 41 points per game against the Concordia defense. However, through the first 43 minutes of play Friday, it could muster just two scores.
“The defense has really played well all year,” Manigel said. “They don’t always get the notoriety that the offense does, but they played well and it’s cool for the school to experience this (victory).”
The Saints were averaging over 34 points per game this season, but the Cadet defense stopped them on third down 70 percent of the time (Dwenger converted just 3 of 10 first downs), as well as limiting the Saints to just 10 first downs (as compared to 21 by the Concordia offense).
Concordia also limited very talented Dwenger quarterback Blake Podschlne into misfiring on 11 of his 21 throws. But with the game on the line, Manigel put history in the hands of his offense, and the veteran group responded.
With the Dwenger front seven packed into a box to stop the Cadet run game, Morrison had to find receivers to move the ball – and ultimately the chains – to win the game.
And he did. Repeatedly.
The Cadets got completions to gain a couple of first downs and drew a pass interference call to get another on the critical drive.
“There was no time to be nervous,” Morrison said. “I was just thinking about the win.”
For the game, Morrison completed passes to five different receivers and finished 18 of 22 for the game for 309 yards and a pair of scores (one passing, one running).
The Saints held Concordia to just 69 yards rushing, but the Cadets still managed to outgain the Saints 378 to 300 in total offense, all the while, owning the clock (Concordia held the ball nearly 30 minutes of the 48-minute game).
“It’s an honor to beat a team like (Dwenger),” Manigel said. “Bishop Dwenger is one of the benchmarks of the conference and one of the benchmarks in northern Indiana.”