FORT WAYNE | East Chicago Central’s dream season didn’t come with a perfect ending.
The Cardinals, who reached the semi-state for the first time in school history, fell behind early and lost to Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger, 38-0, in the Class 4A Northern Semi-State on Friday night at Zollner Stadium.
“Things didn’t go our way tonight,” E.C. Central coach Stacy Adams said. “We didn’t hit. We didn’t tackle. We didn’t complete passes. We just didn’t mesh today. We just didn’t have it tonight.”
The Saints (11-3) took control of the game with a three-touchdown effort in the second quarter.
Ryan Cinadr capped a 10-play, 67-yard drive with a 6-yard touchdown run. A successful 2-point conversion put Dwenger ahead 17-0 with 7:50 left before halftime.
The Cardinals (11-3) turned the ball over on downs on the following possession when quarterback Carlos Fernandez was stopped on 4th-and-1.
Five plays later, Ryan Watercutter hauled in a 27-yard touchdown pass from Mike Fiacable on 4th-and-10 to increase Dwenger’s lead to 24-0.
After an E.C. Central turnover, Dwenger needed just three plays to find the end zone again. Fiacable threw another touchdown pass, this time finding Gabriel Espinoza on a wheel route for a 59-yard score to make it 31-0 at halftime.
The Cardinals had five possessions in the second half, with four ending in interceptions. E.C. Central’s final drive of the game ended with Cardinals being stopped on 4th-and-goal from the 2.
“I told the team at halftime that we could do two things: we could start running the ball and get out of here early, or we could keep fighting,” Adams said. “The answer they gave me was to keep fighting.”
Martayveus Carter finished with 91 total yards for E.C. Central. Juan Sepulveda added 51 total yards. Fernandez threw for 88 and added 28 on the ground.
“I grew a lot in my football career,” Sepulveda said of the season. “I became better at the things I wasn’t good at, and I am a better football player now.”
E.C. Central’s seniors finished their high school careers with 32 wins in four seasons.
“We set a lot of records at the school and these players did a lot of great things,” Adams said. “I just feel great for these kids because they will remember it for the rest of their lives.”