As the final moments ticked off the clock, the shock of losing our only game of the season began to set in. Celebrations erupted from across the stadium, and an eerie silence mounted behind me. It was a feeling we had not felt for 399 days; losing a game.
Every coach knows the feeling. A panic sets into the eyes of Seniors who are about to finish careers. You can see it. You can feel it. They go through the stages of grief right in front of you. They try to convince themselves that they can still win. They begin to get angry. A deep silence overwhelms them. Their eyes dialate. Tears fall. In the final moments, a lot of them turn away and can’t look. I’ve seen helmets ripped off in frustration. Dumb penalties and mistakes in desperation.
Every football player will play their last game at some point. Sometimes it is sudden and abrupt. An injury, or an unexpected playoff loss. Sometimes you see it coming. In this situation, the 2019 State Championship, our guys knew it was their last game. But no matter how it happens, when it happens, it hits you like a ton of bricks.
I don’t even know where to begin with the 2019 Season. I am deeply proud of the work my staff and players put in EVERY season. So many great players have walked our halls and competed for the Knights with a dream of playing in Lucas Oil Stadium. But getting there is HARD and maybe it requires the ball to bounce your way once in a while. What set the 2019 team apart, was not necessarily just more talent. This team found a rare nexus of talent, hard work, offensive and defensive balance, leadership and team chemistry. When a team has ALL the parts like this one did; the ability to run, throw, defend, kick, as well as great leaders, and a willingness to be gritty and be in attack mode all the time, it is certainly going to find success.
This season, the 2019 Knights accepted the challenge from our Coaching staff to be RELENTLESS at all times. In the weightroom, in school, in practice, and on Friday nights. The results can be seen clearly.
3Peat NE8 Champions with a 21 Game NE8 Winning Streak
Sectional Champions, Regional Champions, Semi-State Champions
Nearly 6000 Yards of Total Offense, Countless School Records
That's the story ON the field. What many in this community will never see, know or understand, is the accomplishments of this group OFF the field. These guys have had great careers in the classroom, have great opportunities in their futures, and are constantly involved in their community, form coaching youth football camps, to school and community organizations.
During this season, the support this program received has been something you cannot put into words properly. While this school is filled by students from many small communities; Kendallville, Laotto, Rome City, Avilla, Swan, Ege, Brimfield, Wawaka, and Wolcottville, no matter where they come from, they ALL become EAST NOBLE Knights. The people and businesses of these communities are incredible. From filling the stands on Friday Nights, to all the donations to our Booster Club, the willingness to help out at events, or to display East Noble gear or messages during the tournament, each and every person was a part of this run with our team.
I’d like to take this opportunity to thank some people and groups individually for all the support.
First, on behalf of our Coaching Staff, I want to thank our families. Shay, Averi, Alexxa, and Maddox, I love you guys so much, and nothing makes me happier than seeing you all run on the field after a game. To all our wives, children, parents, friends and families, thank you for all the support.
Particularly this year, but the same could be said in any season, I want to thank the East Noble Administration. Ann Linson, Becca Lammon, and Brian Lietch, as well as the East Noble School Board members have done so much to create conditions in this district that allow for athletics to be a major part of the student experience at East Noble. Without that vision and understanding, seasons like this are not possible.
I won’t have space to include everyone, but the maintenance, grounds and custodial staff led by Bill Knox, and at the High School, Ryan Rowe, as well as Terry Sibert, have been instrumental for years in making sure East Noble is able to offer a 1st class experience to our athletes and our fans and visitors. I will never forget when we had 6 inches of snow before the regional, and these guys figured out a way for us to move the snow and practice.
The Transportation department led by Josh Buhro, was ALL IN this year, like they are every year. Thank you to all our drivers, especially Todd Harris and Nelson Smith, and particularly to Josh Buhro for being flexible with us, and even jumping in a bus and taking us to practice on a snow day!
At East Noble our Administration and Staff are the best. Thank you to all the Teachers, and Instructional aides who support our students, and support our program. It means the world to see you in the stands on Friday Nights, and encouraging our students every day in the classroom. Thanks to all the Elementary and Middle School Teachers and students for encouraging messages, pictures, letters, etc. Every one means more than you know.
To Kathy Longenbaugh, Jim Graham, Josh Schache, Jenny Ritchie, Holly Singleton, Cheryl Landgraff, and Donna Rahal: Thank you for the support of our students and for allowing coaches and teachers to feel the freedom to be creative and help these kids grow. You create conditions in our building that make it easy to thrive.
To the Athletic Department Staff, Ryan Eakins, Danielle Erwin, and particularly Nick David; your hard work and time put into preparing for events, organizing, and seeing around corners to head off problems, allows our coaches and kids to enjoy the best Friday Night experience in the area. I could not ask for a better group of people to work with. You all are truly 1st class.
To the members of the East Noble Football Booster Club: Officers Michelle Mallott, Cheryl and Jim Parker, Kelly Harris, Sonja Richards, Renee Hood, Di Stinson, and so many other parents who volunteer time and effort; you guys are what sets this program apart. We are able to provide our athletes with an amazing experience. In a world dominated by Pay to Play, this group raises money, and creates experiences that very few High School Programs can provide for their players. Thank you for all you do.
To our ENFB Support Staff: Trainer Meagan Jones, Dr Dave Conner, Dr. Phil Corbin, Filmer Cindy Miller, Photographers Diane and Terry Lewis, Staticians Rob Berendt and James Gardner, Radio Announcers Fred Inniger and Rich Anderson, Billy Krock and Kevin Leffel, the Cannon Crew and Tunnel Crew, Announcer Tony Blomeke, Clock Operator Andy Bell, Lexi Ortiz (Head of Student Section Activities); Thank you all for making Friday Knights in Kendallville events that people will remember forever.
To the towns and communities that are East Noble, the local businesses, fans and media: You are unreal. The East Noble Community is just DIFFERENT than everywhere else. There are a million things you all have done to support us this season. The only thing I can compare it too is how our nation mobilized for World War II! This community mobilized to help this team succeed, just as you have done, and would do for any group of young people on a mission to achieve.
Huge Thanks to Chase and Tom at Shepherd’s GM, Community State Bank, Albright’s, Campbell & Fetter, Joe Sells Do it Best, Betty Lou Designs, Kendallville Do It Center, Sylvan Cellars, Dekko Financial, Big City Cars, Diversified Pattern, Noble County Disposal, Dependable Metal, American Heritage Transport, Patty Seutter at Remax, Hometown Carpet Cleaning, Sit’n Bull, Adam Dagger All American Stores, American Legion Post 240, the Cooking of Jeff Bayeat and Brian Meyers, Culligans, Don Gura State Farm, Wings Etc, the St. James, Michelle Bloom at Applebees, WAWK the Hawk, Brice Vance and Ken Fillmore at the New Sun, Noble Hawk and Cobblestone Golf Courses, Pizza Hut and Pizza Forum, Quick Tanks.
But more than anything, I want to thank this year’s Senior Class of Football Players. Your hard work, perseverance, talents, and togetherness helped fuel an unforgettable 2019. My only hope is that what you all gained from this experience, is equal to what you gave this school and community. Your best is yet to come, and we all look forward to the future to see the community leaders you will become. I am forever proud of you all.
High School Football is a special thing, especially in small towns like Kendallville. In our society, one of the most noticeable traits missing from many young people is the ability to be accountable. In our program we try to model this trait, and teach these young men this very important lesson. During this season, our team witnessed an entire community coming together to help them succeed. East Noble Football is a part of the fabric of this community. We are a FAMILY. In a family, each member is accountable to the rest. This team is accountable to this community. We will continue to strive to represent this community the best we can. We want to be there for this community, as you all were here for us. I am proud to be a part of the East Noble Community, and can’t wait to see you all and thank you in person.
From the players and coaches of the East Noble Football Program,
Thank You… And GO KNIGHTS!
Head Football Coach
East Noble High School