- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 25, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Fort Wayne Dwenger has some added motivation for the IHSAA football state finals on Saturday.

The Saints want to win for Chris Svarczkopf, their longtime head coach, who was diagnosed with cancer in June.

Dwenger hasn’t lost since dropping the season opener to Fort Wayne Luers and has dedicated it all to their head coach.

It’s not the typical route the other 11 teams playing for a state title this weekend have taken to Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Three championship games will be played Friday, with the other three Saturday.

“We’ve definitely had to overcome some obstacles over the course of the season,” quarterback Blake Podschlne said. “I thought it wouldn’t be the same season without having him out there. Dwenger football without Coach Svarczkopf, it’s definitely something that hasn’t been done before.”

The coach will be there Saturday when the Saints (13-1) play East Central (12-2) for the Class 4A state title.

For Dwenger, this trip to the finals will be with interim head coach Ernie Bojrab, who took over the reigns over the summer after a phone call from Svarczkopf and athletic director John Bennett.

“I found out on June 18th at 9:30 in the morning,” Bojrab said. “The only worries I had when I woke up that morning was when I was going to take my nap and when I was going to watch the next episode of Andy Griffith. At the end of the day I was the head coach of one of the most storied programs in the state.”

The Saints are making their 10th state finals appearance and are looking for their fourth title and their first since 1991. Dwenger has made appearances as recently as 2013, 2010 and 2008.

Lafayette Central Catholic (14-0) and Linton-Stockton (13-1) will kick off the state finals with the Class A championship game at noon Friday. The Knights from Lafayette are looking for their first title since 2012. The Miners are making their first appearance in the finals.

West Lafayette (13-1) and Indianapolis Chatard (11-3) will play in the Class 3A championship game on Friday. The Red Devils are making their first appearance in the finals since they last won it in 2009. The Chatard Trojans, who are making their 14th appearance, look for their first championship since 2012.

Fort Wayne Snider (12-1) will face New Palestine (13-0) in the Class 5A finals. The Snider Panthers last made it to the championship game in 2012 and have won it once, in 1992. The Dragons are coming off a state championship season last year - the only title in program history.

Whiting (13-1) and Monrovia (13-1) will play in the first game Saturday for the Class 2A championship. The Oilers are making their first state finals appearance, and the Bulldogs are back in the championship game for the first time since 2009.

Penn (12-1) will play Center Grove (13-0) for the Class 6A championship in the last game on Saturday. The Kingsmen are making their 11th state finals appearance. The Trojans are making their third appearance in a championship game and their first since 2008.

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