State championships are just around the corner, and 24 teams are fighting for a chance to play in Lucas Oil Stadium this week! Among the semi-state games, not many will have the stars quite like what we will have in Westfield when the Merrillville Pirates (12-0) travel 135 miles to take on the Westfield Shamrocks (11-1). We will see the kings of northern Indiana against the kings of northern Indianapolis face off for a spot to play either state champion favorites Center Grove, or underdogs Ben Davis.
Last year, when the Pirates and Shamrocks faced off in semi-state, quarterback Maximus Webster took over the game through the air with two passing touchdowns, but more impactfully on his feet after carrying the ball 19 times for 157 yards and 3 touchdowns. Westfield won 41-23 and moved on to fall to Center Grove in the 6A state championship. This year, Webster has thrown for 2045 yards and 16 touchdowns carrying his team to a nearly perfect season disregarding a 14-0 loss to powerhouse Cathedral in week 1.
Merrillville has had just as impressive of a season with an undefeated record. Though the competitions do not seem quite as difficult as Westfield’s, wins over Andrean, Hobart, Michigan City, and Valparaiso highlight their season. Merrillville averages 41.9 points a game and has only let up at most 21 points (vs. Andrean) in any game this season. Merrillville have also outscored their opponents throughout the season 503-148. It is clear that they have dominated in every game they have played, but their toughest challenge is upon them in Westfield.
This dominating season was led by senior running back, Lavarion Logan. As one of the state’s top rushers, leading his team to a state championship would cap off a great high school career. Logan has rushed for 2087 yards (3rd most in Indiana) and 39 all-purpose touchdowns which is first in the IHSAA. Junior wide receiver Justin Marshall has been added spark to the Pirates’ offense. The 5’11 185-pound athlete runs a sub 10.9 in the 100-meter and has tallied 18 touchdowns on the year. Ball State recently offered Marshall. On the defensive side, senior lineman Kenneth Grant and Kenneth Gresham have been unstoppable forces as they put together a combined stat line of 31.5 TFL’s and 9.5 sacks. Kenneth Grant will be continuing his career at the University of Michigan.