SYRACUSE – It was a tale of two halves for the Wawasee Warriors in the first round of their 4A sectional matchup with DeKalb. After going into the halftime locker room with the score knotted up at 7-7, it was all Barons in the second half, as DeKalb scored 35 unanswered points to cruise to a 42-14 victory.  

The game started well for the Warriors, who played some tough defense in the first quarter. In just the first period alone, Wawasee was able to turnover the Barons on downs twice while defending their goal line. The Warriors also picked up a huge interception from freshman Carter Ciaccia that set the offense up at the DeKalb 42. Wawasee took advantage of the short field, and scored on a 6-yard scramble by senior quarterback Lucas Ringler.

The momentum continued to go in Wawasee’s direction on the ensuing kickoff, which the Warriors were able to recover as no Baron player touched it after it traveled about 20 yards. But on the first play of the ensuing drive, Ringler was picked off, stopping the Warrior wave dead in its tracks. Ringler finished his day 1-4 for 10 yards and an interception. He also carried the ball 16 times for 37 yards.

The rest of the game did not yield great results for Wawasee’s offense, which managed just 78 yards to DeKalb’s 418. The Warriors had trouble blocking on runs, as well as special teams. The Barons blocked two kicks in the first half, one a field goal attempt, and the other a punt in the Wawasee end zone for their lone score of the first half.

“We had a couple of opportunities in the first half to really jump on them,” Warriors head coach Jon Reutebuch said. “We were fortunate to be 7-7, they were knocking on the door and our defense bent but didn’t break. Our blocking was solid last week, but it wasn’t there tonight. Everybody’s got an assignment, we thought we had it fixed at halftime but apparently not.”

The second half belonged to the Barons, who scored on all five of their drives. DeKalb quarterback Tegan Irk threw for four touchdown passes as the Warriors looked for answers they would not find on the defensive end.

“They just marched right down the field on that opening drive,” Reutebuch said. “It comes that time of year where teams have to either dig in and decide they want to move on or not, and unfortunately we made too many mistakes in the second half. Didn’t tackle well, didn’t block well. The basic stuff.”

The lone first down of the second half for Wawasee came on an 8-yard touchdown run by sophomore running back Brandon Kelly after an 85-yard kick return by Hunter Tinkey with just over two minutes left. Kelly finished his night with 35 yards on 13 carries and a score.

Wawasee finishes its season with a 1-9 record, but will be returning plenty of key players next season.

“We played a lot of young guys this year. There were probably six or seven sophomores on that field tonight,” Reutebuch said. “They got a lot of valuable experience and we’re going to have to keep plugging away. It’s about building a team, building a culture, and we want to get it so that we’re competing all the way through the fourth quarter.”