We inch closer to the state championship every week, and with that, last-second finishes, big-name upsets, and more have all taken place! Coming into the regional weekend, many games looked to be ones to watch out for. Not many seemed to be as exciting as the game in Fortville though where the Roncalli Royals (12-0) traveled to take on the Mt. Vernon Marauders (11-1). With exciting players including Mt. Vernons senior RB/DB, Keegan LaBelle who put up 4 touchdowns against Connersville, and Roncalli’s quarterback, Aidan Leffler who has put together 27 touchdown passes and led the Royals to an undefeated regular season.
It was a chilly night in Fortville, and it took some warming up for this game to be started. This could not have been more true for anyone other than Mt. Vernon’s quarterback, Gehrig Slunanaker who muffed a snap on the first drive leading to a recovery by Roncalli’s defense. Roncalli quickly capitalized, needing just two plays to punch the ball into the end zone on a 2-yard run to Luke Hansen. Just two minutes in the game and the Royals were up by 7. Gehrig Slunamaker redeemed himself after the previous drive and drove Mt. Vernon down the field finishing with a run by Trevon Hegler on 3rd and goal to tie the game up. The first quarter ended with three turnovers starting with Mt. Vernon’s defense stuffing Roncalli on 4th and short. Roncalli’s Daniel O’Conner made an acrobatic interception to take the ball right back. Mt. Vernon ultimately came up with the ball after another fumble by Roncalli. This time, the Marauders capitalized off the mistake and turned it into 7 points when Eli Bridenthal ran into the end zone on a QB draw.
To start the second quarter, Mt. Vernon moved the ball inside the 10 before kicking a short field to make the score 7-17 in the Marauder’s favor. Roncalli’s Michael Hegwood made a crucial interception on a driving Mt. Vernon offense. Roncalli managed to put themselves right back in this game when Luke Hansen found himself right back into the end zone after an 18-yard run to end the first half.
The third quarter was slow for both sides. Mt. Vernon finally put up a long drive and after going for it on 4th and short inside the 25, they set themselves up in the red zone. The first bit of snowfall in Indiana started coming down at this point, but this did not stop Mt. Vernon from adding onto their lead. Keegan LaBelle ran 3-yards and into the end zone to cap off a spectacular drive for Mt. Vernon and make the score 14-24 with just one quarter left to play.
After another slow start to the quarter, Mt. Vernon finally kicked a field goal to expand their lead and put the score up to 14-27. Roncalli put together a quick drive leading to a short touchdown with 2:13 left in the game. They have a chance, but after failing to recover an onside kick attempt, Mt. Vernon’s offense ran out the clock for all but 8 seconds left. With just one last attempt left for Roncalli to save their season, quarterback Aidan Leffler heaved the ball up to a group of Roncalli receivers, and Mt. Vernon defenders. The attempt was swatted down and the game came to an end with the final score of 21-27, Mt. Vernon. Mt. Vernon came up big with an upset over previously undefeated Roncalli. The night ended with Keegan LaBelle raising the regional championship trophy swallowed in a crowd of students that stormed the field!
With the win, Mt. Vernon ended the state’s second longest active win streak held by Roncalli at 23 games. Class 4A will have a new champion and the field is wide open!