Bremen picks off previously unbeaten Whiting, 42-13, to claim 2A regional title
BREMEN — Considering the fact that the unbeaten Whiting Oilers hadn’t faced much adversity through their first dozen games, the host Bremen Lions wanted to see if they could handle some.
The Lions gave them plenty of adversity in Friday’s 2A regional contest, as their defense picked off three passes as Bremen pulled away for a 42-13 win that wasn’t quite as lopsided as the final score would indicate.
"You know, it means a whole heck of a lot," Bremen head coach Jordan Leeper said. "These guys have been through coachings and through adversity that most teams crumble under. For us to come out and play like we did tonight against a tough Whiting team is really special."
The Lions (11-2) will now carry the momentum of arguably their most impressive win of the season into their semi-state matchup next week against Eastbrook (12-1) in Marion.
"It’s staying together," finished Leeper. "These guys have been together through a ton as a group and they thrive on coming together as a group. Just letting them be them is what has gotten us rolling so far."
Coming into the matchup, the Oilers were a perfect 12-0, with their closest matchup coming in a 12-point victory in Week 7 of the regular season against Calumet New Tech. In fact, the thought seemed to be that Whiting had a pretty good chance of winning.
The Lions had other plans.
“We wanted to get off to a fast start,” Leeper said. "They hadn’t played from behind because they’re such a good team and have demolished people. We wanted to get out to a quick start and see how they played when they were behind on the scoreboard.”
The defense of Bremen was the X-factor in the game, as three crucial interceptions helped to shift the tide and put the Oilers away. Two interceptions before halftime helped build a commanding lead for the Lions before another pick in the fourth quarter nearly added six points to the board.
"Turnovers have been big for us all year," Leeper said. "They’re timely. We are a bend but don’t break type of defense. To end a drive with turnover for the opposing team is just demoralizing and a huge momentum swing for us."
The game opened with the Oilers getting the first shot on offense before failing to convert a fourth-and-short deep in Bremen territory. After taking over possession of the football and driving a considerable distance themselves, the Lions found themselves facing their own fourth down. Unlike the Oilers, they would convert their attempt before scoring the game’s first touchdown moments later.
The Oilers quickly answered the score with one of their own as both teams stuck primarily to a hard-nosed, powerful rushing attack as the snow fell and the wind whistled.