Warsaw football coach Phil Jensen is a smart man.
He’s not about to fix what “ain’t broke” as the old adage goes.
Jensen’s Tigers used their month-long formula for success to near perfection again Friday night in fashioning a 17-0 Northern Lakes Conference win over Goshen on a rainy evening at Fisher Field.
Warsaw used its potent ground game, effective passing game and big plays from its defense to win its fourth straight game. The Tigers built a 17-0 halftime lead and then just managed the clock in the final half for the shutout win.
Tristan McClone rushed for 143 yards and scored a touchdown as the Tigers ground game piled up 235 yards on 59 carries. Junior quarterback Austin Head threw a gorgeous touchdown pass and the Tiger defense came up with four takeaways as the Tigers improved to 5-1 overall and a perfect 4-0 in league play.
Goshen, losers of three in a row, drops to 1-5 overall and 1-3 in the NLC. The Redskins lone win this season was a 2-0 decision over winless Elkhart Memorial.
“Our kids were ready to play tonight,” said Jensen. “We had a good week of practice and I think we learned a lesson last week at Northridge (where it was a 21-21 game at halftime before Warsaw won 35-21). You have to be ready to go every night from the start in the NLC.
“We did what we do and that’s run the football and pass when we want to. Our defense made plays tonight, coming up with those four turnovers. They flew to the ball and that’s all part of us being a team. We’re getting better and growing and maturing as a team.
“The thing is that the guys on this team have figured it out. They get it. There’s nothing wrong with being a role player. These guys are not concerned about who gets the glory. They’re concerned about that score on the scoreboard and winning football games.”Warsaw wasted no time in taking control to make it a happy Homecoming Friday night. The Tigers went 61 yards on the opening possession of the game. Head capped it with a beautiful 38-yard scoring strike to Conner McCammack down the sideline.
The Tiger defense then got its first of four turnovers on the first Goshen drive of the game. Gabe Furnivall pounced on a fumble to stop the Redskins at the Tiger 34. McClone then capped an 11-play, 66-yard drive with a four-yard touchdown run, his 13th of the season, to make it 14-0 with 1:05 to play in the opening quarter. The Tigers ran the ball 10 times on the scoring march with McClone, a junior, toting it eight times for 46 yards.
Warsaw came up with a huge stop early in the second stanza. Goshen marched to the Tiger six yard line where sophomore quarterback Derek DeMeyer rolled out on a fourth and four play and was crushed for no gain before he could throw the ball.
The Tigers capped the scoring as Caleb Klusman drilled a 41-yard field goal on the final play of the opening half.
“That field goal by Caleb tonight was very nice for us,” Jensen said. “Our defense came up with a huge goal line stand down there and did not give up big plays tonight. In the second half, we ran clock. We’ll trade running plays with anyone.”Head was efficient again for the Tigers as he completed 6-9 for 109 yards, including hitting on his first four attempts of the game. McCammack had two catches for 55 yards and Taylor Cone had three receptions for 54 yards. Dylan Campbell rushed for 31 yards on eight carries for the winners.
Tanner Dickerhoff also had a fumble recovery in the third quarter for the Tigers. Ryder Worrell and Ethyn Bradley each had an interception in the final quarter for Warsaw. Bradley’s pick came in the end zone in the final seconds to preserve the shutout.
Senior Skylar Stevens rushed for 79 yards on 10 carries to lead Goshen, which has scored a total of just 33 points this season. DeMeyer was just 6-21 passing for 105 yards with two interceptions. Hunter Hamsher had an interception for the Redskins.
Warsaw plays at Wawasee and Goshen hosts Northridge in NLC action next Friday night.