Sunday, November 27, 2016

Hail to the Fort

So, can we brag now?

Yes. We can brag now.

We can look around, at the end of a milestone holiday week, and think, dang, this place ain't bad. Like Fredo Corleone, we're smart. We can do stuff.  We can also throw a football and catch it and defend the perimeter and space the floor to a fare-thee-well, and manufacture icons for whom, at their passing, an entire world beyond ours will pause to shed tears.

We may be Indiana's Second City. But we were at the head of the line this week.

Begin, of course, with Jon Coffman's IPFW Mastodons taking down No. 3 Indiana -- who, like all big brothers, was at first condescending and then dismissive and finally, at the end, exuding the sort of oh-my-god-these-guys-can-play desperation that so often attends the big upsets. And there will not a bigger one than IPFW 71, Indiana 68 this college basketball season.

It was the kind of moment for the ages that needed a voice for the ages to frame it, but, alas, two days later, Bob Chase left us. At 90, he lived a life so full to the top, and touched so many others in the living of it, he came to embody the city he adopted as his own. In the end, his voice calling a Komets rush, or a goal, or a save conjured from the very air, became the city's own voice. To the larger world, he was Fort Wayne, Indiana.

And two days after that?

Two days after that, Concordia High School showed Indiana once again that high school football in this state is not merely Indianapolis and them others. The Cadets didn't just win their first state football title ever, they wrapped it in a bearhug and ran out the door with it, crushing Lawrenceburg 56-14 in the Class 3A championship game. Quarterback Peter Morrison threw six touchdown passes, breaking a state record held by Rex Grossman of Bloomington South, who only went on to play in the Super Bowl. The Cadets had a shutout going until the middle of the fourth quarter.

It was the sort of wall-to-wall lamination that said, yes, we do play a little football in the Second City, and it's a caliber of football few other places in the state can approach. Concordia was the third different Summit Athletic Conference school to win a state championship in the last two years. If Indiana has a Power 5 of conferences, the SAC is a member in good standing.

So, too, the Fort. There are things happening in this city, great things, and Saturday night we were out among the them, attending the Festival of Trees at the Embassy and then eating dinner at a nearby restaurant. Downtown was hopping, as it tends to be these days on Saturday nights. And at our table by a window looking out on Wayne Street, my daughter looked up from her phone and announced that Concordia was ahead 35-0 at halftime.

I resisted the impulse to say "Well, of course they are."

I mean, that would have been bragging.

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