FORT WAYNE – Despite having a bye in the postseason, North Side still has some business to do next week.
With a 42-16 win Friday over Northrop, the Redskins earned the right to make a trip to Snider to pick up some hardware – the SAC Victory Bell.
North Side (6-3, 6-1 SAC) claimed its first conference championship since 1991, and its first outright title since 1988. The Redskins' senior starters are scheduled to make the trip to pick up the Bell, which goes to the winner of the conference title, from the 2012 champion Panthers on Monday afternoon. Because of the new IHSAA playoff format, the Redskins won't begin Class 5A sectional play until Nov. 1.
"It's going to feel real good," senior W.R. Sanders said about going to Snider on Monday. "We are going to get that Bell."
The Redskins began the celebration by giving coach Ryan Hall the traditional water dousing, and it continued as North Side fans rushed the field and the team took turns with chants, songs, hugs and high-fives.
"This is the longest week I ever had," Hall said.
"It seemed like every turn someone was asking me about what we were going to do when we had the Bell. Our kids were never distracted. We didn't change anything. We did everything we have done since the Dwenger week."
The Redskins left little doubt against the Bruins (2-7, 1-6) by jumping out to an early lead and never letting up. Mike Lovett led North Side with three rushing touchdowns and two passing scores. Lovett ran for 174 yards, and Nick Cook added 98. Cook also had a 64-yard punt return for a score.
Transfers Lovett (from Wayne), D'Marcus Moon (from Bishop Dwenger) and Tabor Jordan (from New Haven) sparked North Side this year.
"It hasn't sunk in yet," Moon said of the SAC championship. "It's a great accolade to have, and I am just proud of my teammates. It's not how you start, but how you finish. We still have room to improve and more games to play."
North Side could finish with the same conference record as Snider, if the Panthers defeat Wayne today.
But the Redskins hold the tiebreaker by virtue of a 27-13 win over the Panthers on Sept. 27.
An SAC championship didn't seem possible for the Redskins after they blew an 18-point second-half lead and lost 32-28 at home against Bishop Dwenger on Sept. 6. North Side is 5-1 since that loss, including 5-0 in the SAC.
"We knew we were down, and we knew we felt bad about it," Sanders said about the loss to the Saints. "But we had to pick ourselves up."
North Side will add a team picture to its championship wall in the school along with the boys basketball team that claimed an SAC championship in February.
"We could have given up, but we never did," Hall said. "It's big for our program."