I hope each of you enjoyed a happy Thanksgiving.

There are two of my favorite events taking place today. The second of two days of the IHSAA state football finals (Classes 1A, 3A, and 5A today, 2A, 4A, and 6A yesterday), and “The Game” – The Ohio State University versus the University of Michigan.

I am thankful for many things, but Friday and Saturday of each Thanksgiving weekend has become my favorite football weekend of the year. Thursday’s dinner has become a day to decompress, and to share food and fellowship with my small nuclear family but bring on the weekend.

I catch glimpses of NFL action on Thursday as if I were saving my eyes, ears, and brain for Friday and Saturday.

I am thankful for another great season of Indiana high school football, and furthermore I’m thankful the Ohio State-Michigan clash finally showcases two teams playing at much more competitive levels last year and his year than “The Game” was played among the previous dozen seasons.

High school football made my heart heavier this season, though.

The Carroll Chargers, whose postseason journey included the sectional title win over Warsaw November 4, played their hearts out all season for a (too soon) departed quarterback. God rest his young soul.

As inspiring as this run has been, what also hit me hard yesterday during the 6A title clash you wonder?

This is the first season in the Bart Ball era I could say to myself logically, not romantically, during Thanksgiving weekend, “it could have been Warsaw at Lucas Oil Stadium.”

I strongly believed early in the recently completed high school football season the only thing standing in the way of the 2022 Warsaw Tigers football team’s journey to Lucas Oil Stadium for an IHSAA state title fray was… the 2022 Warsaw Tigers football team.

I hope next season’s Tigers see how close they are getting to earning the privilege of football practice on Thanksgiving morning.

The 8-3 season ended at Carroll High School much earlier than I wanted it to end, yet it was still my favorite season to date, and for this I say, “thank you, Tiger football.”

I could very well be maudlin and subjective about a different season serving as my favorite season for those of you who know me (*cough* 2019).

Someone I love very much battled on the 2019 sectional championship squad, the school’s first (and still only) football sectional title winner in fact.

However, my gut feelings - even in the throes of joy felt following Warsaw’s 35-18 sectional title over Penn on November 8, 2019 - told me the final on-field November hug that season was likely going to be at an outdoor high school venue, not at the indoor NFL venue more than 300 teams dream of each season.

Let’s return to November 2022.

I’ll shamelessly steal someone whose three words writers and listeners know (as we wink at and nudge each other) will be followed by nuggets of wisdom.

Here’s the deal.

The 2022 Tiger gridders, among the preceding four teams since 2018 was: the most athletic, the biggest (with functional size to boot), the fastest, and the most resilient among the last five football seasons. It was a squad who remained swinging hard and fast to the very end in each of its three losses.

One more thing. These dudes had swagger - and a few taunting penalties (I know, I know) – but oh, the swagger was still unmatched. They had, in fact, the most intimidating on-field presence among the five recent Tiger teams.

This team was also comparatively superior to those four preceding teams in kick coverage, and physicality at all positions. Warsaw’s 2022 version of the B-back – what some football analysts and fans define a fullback – was physically the most prototypical B-back the Tigers had since the introduction of the triple option to the Lake City. He had something special in mind, even asking permission from the “OG” jersey number 2 B-back, Juan Jaramillo, to wear his jersey number.

Defensively, prior to 2022 the two athletes who came closest to exceeding 100 tackle points had 86 (2018) and 75 (2019) points. As the 2020, and 2021 Tigers racked up dominant offensive time of possession minutes and broke various rushing records, I was certain – using my Ohio public university math - no Tiger defender would be on the field for enough minutes to eclipse 75 tackle points as long as Warsaw’s offense continued to control the clock in such dominant fashion.

I missed on this take in 2022. This year’s leading defender almost reached 120 tackle points.

If the on-field comparative aspects weren’t enough, off the field the 2022 senior Warsaw gridders were the most compelling “listen” among five years of Tiger Talk guests.

Mind you, the increasingly interesting discussions among the athletes in the Tiger Talk football segments have been noticeably building for the better since the 2018 season, but who knew this year’s bunch would collectively be so doggone good.

Is there a radio guest charm school around here I don’t know about?

The challenges this year’s squad faced surfaced another distinction, the greatest of them in fact.


For whatever reason Warsaw starters were sidelined the biggest takeaway was the team’s depth, another area where they had an edge over the previous four Tiger teams in the most current era of the school’s football program.

Several members of the 2022 Warsaw Tiger football team are likely spending this weekend watching all the state final frays, and they would rather be in full gear 150 minutes south of the Lake City. Nonetheless, I believe many of us in the community are thankful for the thrills we experienced this year among their many forms.

Athletes and coaches from the 2018 season planted “program trees” whose collective shade is providing greater comfort and coverage to current and future teams. Some other Saturday morning, we might discuss other recent squads’ distinctive contributions to the program.

Today, however, the morning belongs to the 2022 Tigers. I wish you folks were in Indy yesterday, but thank you so much for a thrilling season.