(photo credit: Lacey Nix & Jacob Musselman)
When Indianapolis Cathedral takes on Center Grove on Friday, not much will have changed since last season.
Like last year, both teams are undefeated at 8-0 and stacked with college talent.
Like last year, they are ranked at the top of their respective classes.
And like last year, both teams have dominated their schedules. Center Grove has put up over 38 points in every single game and never allowed an opponent over 21 points. Friday night’s matchup at Arlington High School is arguably the must-see game of the season in Indiana, and one of the top matchups in the nation.
“We have taken it one game at a time and have been perfect in doing it,” Center Grove defensive end Caden Curry said. “Nothing changes in preparing for a game. We know we need to get better every week and not let us beat ourselves. Then we have to play with passion and effort and not care who’s on the field.”
“I think they have a bunch of great players,” Cathedral quarterback Danny O’Neil said of the Trojans. “Obviously Curry is up there, but the rest of their defense is great too. They all know their responsibility and they are physical. And they have Tayven on offense, and we know what he can do with the ball in his hands.”
Cathedral, too, has had a big year. The Irish have won every game by at least 21 points. Center Grove won last year’s matchup 17-13, so the Irish are hungry for a win.
“The season has been great so far,” linebacker Jeffrey Utzinger said. “We’ve battled with a lot of great teams, and there’s plenty of more that we look forward to playing. Our game against La Salle was a great one. We played all around great as a team. Both sides of the ball, and special teams. It was an amazing atmosphere in Ohio that was amazing to play in.”
“Our season has been everything we expected it to be,” Bryce Llewellyn said. “We prepared, trained, sacrificed, and evolved as a team to reap the benefits of our hard work this past offseason. There’s a lot that comes with being the best, you can’t just show up.”
Offensively the Trojans have several key playmakers who are difficult to stop. Jackson is a high-impact player who is capping off a great senior season and high school career. The Tennessee commit threw five touchdown passes in just the first half during last week’s victory over Lawrence Central. Running back Daniel Weems, who holds one offer from Eastern Kentucky, adds juice to the running game.
“Weems and Jackson are both very good players with a lot of experience that are always fun to play against,” Utzinger said. “Overall, they’ve got a bunch of guys that can play that are put into a hard system to play against. You can’t make many mistakes when playing them.”
But Cathedral has playmakers of its own, including O’Neil. The 6’1 180 sophomore signal-caller, trained by Anthony Morelli in Westfield, already holds an offer from Toledo and is sure to garner more Division I interest in the years to come. He has thrown for 1,725 yards and 22 touchdowns with just one interception this season. He has plenty of weapons, including tight end Brennan Wooten at 6’4 225, 6’4 190 wideout Jaron Tibbs, and 6’5 225 tight end Parker Spellacy. Princeton commit Cooper Koers anchors the offensive line.
“I think the season so far has been solid,” O’Neil said. “Having the opportunity to play good teams every Friday to prepare us to reach our goal of winning state. I am not sure what the highest moment of the season was so far. I think just being able to come out and play every week with my brothers is my favorite part.”
Defensively, Cathedral has defensive lineman Kendrick Gilbert, one of the state’s brightest junior prospects. At 6’5 250 and blessed with twitch and explosiveness, Gilbert already holds 12 offers including from Michigan, Kentucky, Penn State and Notre Dame. Along with Llwellyn, Utzinger holds offers from Eastern Kentucky, Grand Valley State and Akron. Keep an eye on senior inside linebacker Jack Goheen, a Bucknell commit.
“We are preparing by focusing on their schemes they run on the defensive side,” Weems said.
Curry leads the defense for Center Grove which is looking to defend their 6A state title. Curry has a rare combination of size, speed, explosiveness and power that have made him the state’s top recruit in a talented 2022 class. Defensive end James Schott is committed to Miami-Ohio. The Trojans added cornerback Kalen Carroll who transferred from Brownsburg. The 6’1 170 senior has committed to Cincinnati.
“This week is hands down the highest moment of our season.” Llwellyn said. “We love the spotlight. And we can’t wait to represent our school Friday on our home grass in front of our families, peers, and the entire Midwest.”