Woodlan's state tourney run brings back fond memories of 1981 Warriors postseason run

November 25, 2017



WOODBURN, Ind. - When Woodlan takes the field Saturday for the IHSAA 2A Football State Championship, it will mark the end of a 36-year drought for the Warriors.

The communities of Woodburn and Harlan were captivated by the nearly improbable run of the Warriors in 1981.

“We weren’t expected to do anything,” Barry Ehle, a senior on that Woodlan team says. Ehle now teaches science at his alma mater, and has previously served as head football and softball coach.

The 1981 Woodlan football team started 3-2, ultimately dashing their hopes at the Allen County Athletic Conference after a 7-0 loss to Adams Central. From there, the Warriors would win 5-straight regular season games and earned an opportunity at redemption in the then-invitation-only state tournament.

“We ended up playing all the tournament games in 17 days,” Ehle recalls. “One of our games, we even played on a Tuesday night.”

That 17-day run included winning Woodlan football’s first sectional, regional and semi-state championships en route trip to the state finals. Woodlan would fall to Hamilton Southeastern 14-7 in the 1A title game. The Warriors’ lone score that night: Ehle’s 94-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, which still stands as a state finals record.

Ehle, who now teaches science and previously coached football and softball at his alma mater, is excited that he and his teammates finally have company in Woodlan lore.

“The talent Coach (Sherwood) Haydock has put together and how he uses them is really what makes this team go,” Ehle says. “The community is really rallying around this team much the same as they did back then.”

This time, Ehle hopes that talent, coaching and support can bring home Woodlan’s first state title in any sport. 

Kickoff for the 2A state championship between Woodlan and Southridge is scheduled for noon at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.


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