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The Journal Gazette

Friday, October 06, 2017 8:20 pm

Hornets' hard work is paying dividends

GREG JONES | The Journal Gazette


Bishop Dwenger at Snider

Carroll at Concordia

Northrop at North Side

South Side at Bishop Luers

Wayne at Homestead

Columbia City at Leo

DeKalb at Bellmon

Huntington North at Norwell

New Haven at East Noble

Adams Central at Bluffton

Heritage at Southern Wells

South Adams at Woodlan

Central Noble at Eastside

Fremont at Prairie Heights

Garrett at Angola

West Noble at Churubusco

Elkhart Memorial at Wawasee

NorthWood at Warsaw

Whitko at Northfield

Note: Games at 7 p.m.

This is the kind of year Angola has been building toward for the last four seasons. Since Andy Thomas’ arrival as coach in 2014, the Hornets have been getting closer and closer to this kind of success.

“It hasn’t happened overnight,” Thomas said. “It was a tough road the first couple of years, but we got kids to jump on board and take a leap of faith after the first year.”

Thomas’ teams went 3-7 and 4-6 in his first two years, before a breakout 7-3 campaign last year. With a 7-0 record this season, the Hornets are showing the kind of play not seen in Angola in a while.

Angola last started 7-0 in 1999. The seven wins matches the amount the Hornets had last year, and thetotal combined in Thomas’ first two years as coach. Angola was 9-2 in 2010. 

Thomas has simply seen a commitment from his players in “every aspect of the program.” 

There’s also been a commitment from the school’s administration in getting a weight room built two years ago that has helped the rapid ascension of the program.

“We really hadn’t had one at the high school,” Thomas said of the weight room. “We just had a small one. We built a real nice one and added an additional weight (lifting) class. It has just kind of taken off.”

And the Hornets aren’t just beating teams – they are burying them.

Outside of a 41-35 win over Leo in Week 2, Angola hasn’t played in a close game and is outscoring its opponents 48-15, highlighted by a 72-21 win at West Noble on Sept. 8.

“We have been playing well, that’s for sure,” Thomas said of the lopsided outcomes. “Some of the scores have snowballed. We have talented kids on both sides of the ball, and that has allowed us to score like we have.”

Last year, two of Angola’s three losses came by a combined four points, with the first of those leading to a revenge game tonight at home against Garrett (5-2), a school where Thomas spent six seasons coaching in 2000-05. And for the second straight year, an NECC large school division championship is on the line with both teams having 3-0 records in division play.

Thomas called it a “winner-take-all” game, for the second straight year.

“They are a tremendous team,” Thomas said of the Railroaders, who won last year 28-27. “It is going to be a huge challenge for us. Our kids are ready, and they are excited. We got our hearts absolutely torn out, shattered in our game last year. We were literally a couple of inches away from winning the game, and our kids have had it in the back of their minds since then.

“It’s not just another game. It is a championship game.”

Greg Jones is the assistant sports editor for The Journal Gazette and has been covering sports in Fort Wayne since 1998. He can be reached by email at; phone, 461-8224; or fax, 461-8648.