6A State Final

Center Grove completes a two-year, 28 game stretch with their second consecutive 6A title.

by: Shawn Martin/Excel High School Sports

Center Grove (14-0) won the 6A title 27-21 over Westfield (12-2).

In a game for the ages – one of the best state title games in the 49 year history of the tournament – the Trojans held off multiple second half Shamrock drives to win their fourth state championship.

The game was not decided until Trojan sophomore Owen Bright intercepted Westfield senior quarterback Maximus Webster at the 2-yard line with 1:37 left in the game.

The game hung precariously in the balance with just a six point margin – due to a blocked extra point attempt on the Trojans first touchdown back in the first quarter. Westfield was driving on what appeared to potentially be a go ahead, game clinching drive – until Bright snagged the ball out of the air.

Trojans quarterback Tayven Jackson scored on a 1-yard run to open the scoring with 6:18 left in the opening 12 minutes. The blocked kick left the score 6-0.

Westfield answered with a 10 play, 68 yard drive culminating with a Micah Hauser 15-yard TD run. Their kick was good and the Shamrocks had a 7-6 lead.

Center Grove pulled out all the stops for this game. All American Defensive Lineman Caden Curry was used a couple of times in short yardage situations on offense. The 6-3 250 pound Curry scored on a two-yard rushing touchdown to put the Trojans ahead again.

Two and a half minutes later, Hauser scored on another touchdown scamper – this one a 25 yarder.

Harrison Stomps reeled in a 30-yard pass from Jackson to put the Trojans up 20-14 at halftime.

Center Grove opened the second half with a 12 play 80 yard drive that finished with a 5-yard TD run by Micah Coyle to put the Trojans up 27-14. Hauser then scored his third touchdown of the game, this one a one yarder that gave us our final score, though we still had almost 16 minutes of escalating drama to go.

The game was about as even as even could get. Each team recorded 20 first downs. Center Grove had 363 total yards. Westfield had 352. Westfield had the ball for just under 23 minutes. Center Grove just over 25.

The game was just that close!

Westfield Offensive Lineman Will Strahm was named the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award winner for Class 6A.


4A State Final

Mt. Vernon (Fortville) dominates in winning schools first state championship over Northridge 45-14.

by: Shawn Martin/Excel High School Sports

The Marauders (14-1) showed from the outset that they had distinct advantage in speed when Ashden Gentry ripped off a 54-yard scoring run on the games second play from scrimmage. That touchdown was negated by a penalty though, but that just prolonged the inevitable.

Keegan Labelle scored on a 24-yard run – his first of two rushing touchdowns in the first half – with 9:37 left in the opening quarter.

From there, the Marauders would dominate both sides of the ball, building a 20-0 lead midway through the second quarter. Northridge (10-5) would score with 1:39 left in the first half, but Mt. Vernon almost immediately answered, capping a quick 1:07, 6 play, 58 yard drive with Labelle’s second touchdown – a 5 yard run.

It was 26-7 at halftime and all that was left to be determined was the final score.

Mt. Vernon would score three more touchdowns in the first 12-1/2 minutes of the second half and led 45-7 until the Raiders returned an intercepted pass 45 yards for a touchdown with 8:38 left in the game.

Mt. Vernon out gained the Raiders 381 to 178. Quarterback Gehrig Slunaker – who won the Mental Attitude Award – was efficient throwing the ball, hitting on 12 of his 18 pass attempts for 235 yards and three TD’s.

The Marauders were most dominant on defense – holding Northridge to 94 rushing yards, 4 of 17 on 3rd down, five sacks, and two Interceptions – one of which was returned 59-yards by Gentry for a touchdown.

2A State Final
Andrean 21 Evansville Mater Dei 9
by: Shawn Martin/Excel High School Sports

Andrean (12-3) wins 21 to 9 to capture their third football state title  – and first since 2013.

59’ers Linebacker/Running Back Drayk Bowen showed why he will suit up in South Bend for Notre Dame after one more year of high school.
Bowen is a 6-2 215 pound physical specimen, who is universally rated as the top junior football prospect in the state of Indiana. He carried the ball 24 times for a career high 171 yards and three touchdowns. He directly accounted for all but one point for Andrean as he had a two-point conversion too.
He will be a defensive player for the Irish, and certainly showed that skill set as well. He notched six tackles including 2.5 for loss and also had a strip sack that set up one of his offensive touchdowns.
The first 24 minutes were a defensive slugfest seeing both defenses dominate the others offense. Andrean and Mater Dei combined for 130 yards of offense in the first half, no points, and three turnovers.
Mater Dei junior Quarterback Mason Wunderlich scored on a 22-yard run in the third quarter to score the games first points. The extra point attempt was blocked.
Then it was time for the Bowen offensive show to begin.
Starting with Bowen’s 29 yard burst for a touchdown that gave the 59’ers their first points and a 7-6 lead, Andrean started to move the ball efficiently.
The Wildcats (12-3) added a 29 yard FG to take a 9-7 lead, then the rest of the scoring in this game would be done by the Andrean player donning the #34 jersey.
Bowen scored on a 2-yard run, then drug several Wildcat players into the end zone on a two-point attempt giving his team a 15-9 lead with 9:52 remaining in the game.
After the kickoff, Bowen stripped the ball on a sack of Wunderlich, which set up his third touchdown of the game – a three yard run.
Andrean senior Robby Ballentine was named the Mental Attitude Award win
5A State Final 
Cathedral wins 14th State Football Championship in dominating fashion over Zionsville 34-14.
by: Shawn Martin/Excel High School Sports
Sophomore Quarterback Danny O’Neil led Cathedral’s offense going 25-35 for 355 yards – ten of those completions and 210 of those yards went to junior receiver Jaron Tibbs. Tibbs reeled in two of O’Neil’s three passing touchdowns.
Zionsville (9-6) scored first – on their second possession – as junior quarterback Christian Abney found senior receiver Trey Firestone for a 17-yard scoring strike midway through the first quarter.
Cathedral (14-1) answered quickly with O’Neil hitting Tibbs on a 7-yard scoring pass. That would begin a stretch of 24 straight points for the Irish to take control of the game, and lead 24-7 after 3 quarters. Abney and Firestone connected again, this a 30-yard strike to cut the lead to 24-14. Firestone wound up with 134 yards on 7 catches and those two scores. 
Two and a half minutes later, Tibbs caught a 10-yard pass touchdown pass from O’Neil to push the lead back up to 31-14. Irish tacked on 3 more points on a Field Goal.
This was the second year in a row these two schools met in the 5A football championship game. Last year the Irish won 46-28 over the Eagles.
Cathedral senior Offensive Lineman Cooper Koers was named the Phil N Eskew Mental Attitude Award winner. He is expected to attend and play for the Ivy League’s Princeton Tigers next year.
3A State Final
by Shawn Martin/Excel High School Sports
Gibson Southern 45
Brebeuf Jesuit 35
Gibson Southern (14-1) wins their first state title as Brady Allen (Purdue) ignites for 398 yards and 5 passing touchdowns.
In our second game where one of the head coaches should of just saved their breath with the pre game speech and waited till later, Gibson Southern came back from a 26-7 deficit midway through the 2nd quarter to win 45-35 over Brebeuf Jesuit (12-3).
The Braves came out and marched down the field 61 yards in 10 plays, capped by a Nolan Buckman 31-yard touchdown pass to Max Walters. Keep that combination in mind as we go through this game.
Gibson Southern answered with their own 11 play, 80 yard touchdown drive that concluded with Brady Allen’s 11-yard strike to Rory Heltsley. Probably better keep that duo in mind too.
After that pretty balanced start to the game, the Braves scored the next 19 points over 7:53 to take what seemed to be that commanding 26-7 lead. Those 19 points included two Buckman to Walters TD’s sandwiched around a Joe Strickland sack of Allen in the end zone for a safety and a Ryan Kersteff 26-yard field goal.
The Titans Adrean Lukeman stopped the onslaught briefly with a 3-yard TD run with 7:45 left in the first half. Kersteff soon added a 38-yard FG to make it 29-14 with just under five minutes to play in the opening half.
Allen was finding his rhythm though and was about to show why he is the top high school Quarterback in Indiana and highly regarded.
In a scintillating 1:02 span, Allen and Heltsley hooked up for two touchdowns and drew their team back to within one point, 29-28, at halftime!
Brebeuf would only score six second half points, while the now white hot Allen would spread the wealth in the second half, finding Kaden Hurless and Brayden Malone for scoring strikes. Gibson Southern Kicker Chris Spears closed out the Titan scoring with a 29 yard field goal.
Gibson Southern’s Allen and Heltsley connected 13 times for 218 yards and three touchdowns. Brebeuf’s Buckman and Walters had 13 completions for 210 yards and 3 touchdowns. Allen threw for 398 yards and five TD’s. Buckman was also impressive with 319 yards and for scores.
Gibson Southern Lineman Ryan Holzmeyer was named the Blake Ress Mental Attitude Award winner.
Class A State Championship Game
by Shawn Martin/Excel High School Sports
Indianapolis Lutheran 34
Adams Central 28
Indianapolis Lutheran wins its first football state title 34-28 over 2000 state champion Adams Central.
In a game that started out with Adams Central seizing the early momentum, driving the opening kickoff and gutting Lutheran’s run defense, and scoring a touchdown on a 2-yard run by senior Blake Heyerly with just 1:38 coming off the clock.
The Flying Jets (13-2) then forced a Lutheran punt on the Saints intial possession, and senior Nick Neuenschwander returned it 59-yards for a touchdown and a 14-0 lead with 6:42 remaining in the opening stanza.
Lutheran (15-0) then settled down and put together a nice quick scoring drive, capped by a 32-yard pass play from senior QB Montasi Clay to junior receiver Micah Mackey.
The Jets answered in the second quarter with another 2-yard touchdown run by Heyerly.
Then the momentum dramatically shifted to the Saints near the end of the second quarter. Lutheran scored a touchdown 30-seconds before the end of the first half – a 6-yard run by Lutheran senior Jake Pasch, 21-14 Adams Central.
Lutheran received the second half kickoff, and promptly drove it right down the field and tied the game at 21 on a 30-yard TD reception by Pasch on a pass by Clay. Seven plays, 61 yards in 2:57.
The game sputtered a bit as both teams couldn’t move the ball and both teams had turnovers.
Then Lutheran scored their 21st consecutive points on a 71-yard pass play from Clay to Mackey again. 28-21 Saints – their first lead.
Almost twelve minutes of game clock went by before the scoreboard operator had to adjust the score again.
With 3:26 left in regulation, Heyerly scores his third touchdown of the game to tie it up at 28.
That set up Lutheran’s 5 play, 56-yard drive over 2:05, capped by a 12-yard touchdown run by Clay. Kick failed, so the lead was 6 with 1:13 left in the game, 34-28.
On Adams Central first play from scrimmage, Lutheran intercepted Clay to effectively end the game.
Adams Central’s Heyerly added the Blake Ress Mental Attitude award to his impressive day.

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