It’s come down to this.
Just one more game separates four hungry teams in Indiana from reaching the state finals.
This morning, Center Grove, Hamilton Southeastern, Indianapolis Cathedral and Fort Wayne-Carroll remain on the Indiana HS Football Championship 6A bracket, and after tonight, just two will remain. All four teams are hungry to punch their ticket to Lucas Oil Stadium. Here’s a brief overview for why each team could win it all.
Experience. It would be odd to not walk into Lucas Oil Stadium on a cold November night and not see the Trojans playing for a title. The two-time defending state champion Center Grove Trojans have been here before. They have reached the state finals at Lucas Oil three times in the past three years, and a win v. Cathedral tonight take them back for a fourth consecutive season in their hopes to three-peat. After losing a number of top prospects at graduation, underclassmen like QB Tyler Cherry, WR Noah Coy (a Cincinnati baseball commit), DL Elijah Chandler and ATH Jalen Thomeson (Ohio commit) have all risen to the challenge. The Trojans barely lost to Cathedral during the wild regular season finale. Expect Coach Eric Moore to have his players ready.
The Royals are proven winners against the state’s best competition in the Indianapolis metro area. They knocked off state-runner-up Westfield last week in dominating fashion, avenging last year’s close sectional loss and capturing the Royals’ first regional title since 2006. They have won ugly and won big. Coach Michael Kelly is one of the most underrated coaches in the state, having turned the program around in a quick manner and developing marquee talent that has drawn the attention of college coaches. HSE has several big-time players at key positions. They boast a talented junior class, including OT Styles Prescod, WR Donovan Hamilton, and RB Jalen Alexander.
On paper, the Irish may be the best 6A team left. The roster is always stacked with college talent, but its very strong this year, including WR Jaron Tibbs and OL/DL Kendrick Gilbert, both committed to Purdue. There are a number of other senior prospects bound for Division I college football, including TE Brennan Wooten (Western Michigan), FS Sterling Smith, and DT Patrick Kendall (Army). The junior class is just as strong led by QB Danny O’Neil and 6’7 TE Zach Meeks. The Irish have dominated their schedule, with most of their wins by double digits, and their only loss being Brownsburg in Week 2.
Fort Wayne Carroll
The classic underdog story. Like Hamilton Southeastern, the Chargers, under 13-year head coach Doug Dinan, are entering the semi-state after an undefeated regular season. It is their first time in school history they have ever reached semi-state, and you can be assured the home crowd at tonight’s game v. HSE will be full of energy. They dominated most of the teams in the Fort Wayne area by high margins led by 6’3 QB Jimmy Sullivan, a talented prospect with a high ceiling. FS Jorge Valdes is an underrated player who is just now drawing the attention of college coaches.