Senior staff writer
Lutheran, Roncalli and Center Grove are just one win away from state championship games at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Southside’s “Big 3” of the 2016 football campaign rolled over their visiting opponents Friday to earn the right to go on the road in the final four of their respective classes.
Class A Lutheran dismantled visiting Fountain Central 48-19 at Beech Grove; 4A Roncalli rolled over Delta 42-7; and defending 6A state champion Center Grove avenged its only loss of the season by dominating No. 1 Warren Central 28-7 for the Trojans’ 11th consecutive win.
Friday’s matchups find No. 12 Lutheran (10-3) visiting No. 2 Linton-Stockton (13-0), No. 1 Roncalli (13-0) travelling to No. 7 East Central (11-2) at St. Leon and No. 2 Center Grove (11-1) going northwest to No. 4 Ben Davis (10-2) in a rematch. The Trojans defeated Ben Davis 20-7 Sept. 8.
Lutheran captured its seventh straight win Friday by holding Fountain Central’s high-powered offense scoreless for 40 minutes after spotting the Mustangs a 13-7 lead in the first quarter.
The Saints racked up 617 yards of offense while scoring three touchdowns on the ground and four via the air. Senior quarterback Zach White threw a 63-yard touchdown pass to Trevor Russel on the first play from scrimmage and tossed 44- and 59-yard scoring strikes to Jacob Faubion and a 39-yard TD pass to Tyler Johnson.
The Saints’ defense awakened in the first quarter after the Mustangs scored on a 9-yard pass. FC quarterback Wayde Bentley completed 2-of-4 passes in the opening drive before the Saints limited Bentley to only eight completions in 26 throws. Lutheran intercepted three passes;, the first of which to the Saints’ go-ahead touchdown.
“We wanted to keep the quarterback and running back contained; don’t let anybody get outside of us,” junior defensive lineman Payton Ditchley said. “We stayed together when we got behind, and we pulled out the win.”
White completed 11-of-20 passes for 310 yards and four TDs. Junior running back Andre Jones gained 215 yards on 25 carries and scored two touchdowns.
“They averaged more than 50 points per game,” Lutheran coach Dave Pasch said. “I wouldn’t have believed we could hold them to two scores and mostly three quarters without scoring. We took away their strengths and tenancies and got them out of their comfort zone.’
Lutheran has outscored four playoff opponents 222-62. The Saints played eight teams above Class A and compete in the rugged Indiana Crossroads Conference.
“The conference we play in really has helped us going into the tournament,” Ditchley said. “Teams in our conference are really strong and fast.”
The Saints have captured two regional titles in the past three seasons. They reached the Class A semistate in 2014 but were defeated by North Vermillion 37-19. Many of this season’s Saints were freshmen and sophomores then.
Lutheran is riding a seven-game winning streak, but Lincoln-Stockton is unbeaten and averages 52.4 points while allowing only 7.7.
“We have one more (win) to get us where we want to go,” Pasch said.