FORT WAYNE – A year ago on this Friday night, Mike Fiacable had the worst seat in the house: Watching from the sideline, on crutches, as the Bishop Dwenger Saints started a football season without him.
Suffice it to say his view was a touch more breathtaking this time around.
Taking snaps in anger, officially, for the first time since tearing his left anterior cruciate ligament in preseason last August, Fiacable took the field against South Side wearing a brace on his knee and proceeded to turn it into an afterthought. The numbers, in a 24-14 season-opening victory over the Archers, were 20 completions in 30 attempts for 272 yards and two touchdowns, plus another on a 12-yard option keeper the first time he ran the football.
None of which impressed Fiacable quite so much as the simple fact that he was, well, out there again.
I’m just thankful for the opportunity to come back and play this great game again, he said. South Side had a lot of seniors and experience but not a lot of players, we just tried to gas ’em and gas ’em.
And eventually, the Archers’ tank ran dry.
A couple of missed Dwenger field goals, plus a flash of lightning or two from South Side standout Donovan Clark, kept it close for a half.
Both times Dwenger found the end zone in the first half – on Fiacable’s keeper around the right side and his 33-yard pass to running back Ryan Cinadr on a play where he bought time with his legs in a collapsing pocket – Clark answered. First he got dipped outside and fled down the Dwenger sideline on a 74-yard reverse then he ran back the kickoff after Cinadr’s score to the Dwenger 20, setting up Dallas Conley’s 5-yard touchdown run three plays later.
With 2:58 to play in the first half, it was a 14-14 game. And that was the last time the Saints and Archers shared such close quarters.
Fiacable led a 14-play drive that ended with Stephen Colligan’s 27-yard field goal, making it 17-14 at halftime. Then, after missing another field goal to squander an 11-play drive to begin the second half, Ryan Watercutter made a highlight reel grab over a South Side defender from 33 yards out for the breathing-room touchdown.
A clock-eating running game starring Tyler Tippmann (14 carries, 85 yards) and Cinadr (10 carries, 62 yards) did the rest.
In the third quarter, we noticed a place where we could run, Dwenger coach Chris Svarczkopf said. The only thing I was disappointed with was it didn’t always mean points. Give South Side a lot of credit, they held on there.
But could do nothing else thanks to a Dwenger defense that gave up the two big plays by Clark but not much else. After Conley’s score, South Side never got closer than the Dwenger 20 again.
Defense played well, Svarczkopf said. Defense was strong. Donovan Clark, he’s a great player, and he’s not alone. They’ve got a bunch of running backs that can hurt you. We held some pretty explosive people there to some reasonable yardage and points.
So it was a good first outing for us, and we’ll take it.
So will his quarterback.
I missed a lot of throws, Fiacable said. I’m pretty mad about that. I’ve got to get that fixed. But overall, bottom line, we got the win, so I’m pretty happy about that.