Southsider Voice correspondent
“You’ve come a long way baby!”
The once-popular advertising slogan could easily be the motto of the 2014 Lutheran High School football team.
Lutheran’s first varsity football program played two games in 2005, after being founded by legendary Southside coach Ray Schultz and a group of dedicated parents. They utilized athletes from other sports who weren’t necessarily seasoned football players and went 7-4 in 2006 and 5-6 in ’07.
Schultz had done his part and stepped down and handed the reins over to Dave Pasch, who coached the Saints to their first sectional championship in 2009.
This year the Saints won their second sectional title, their first regional crown, reached a semistate championship game for the first time and came within one win from a trip to the Class A title game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Saints’ season ended Friday at Roncalli in a semistate tussle against unbeaten No. 2 North Vermillion. Lutheran battled the Falcons evenly in the first half but was shut out in the second half and lost 37-19.
Lutheran posted a 10-4 record, its fifth winning season in six years. “This is a new beginning,” said Pasch, who is 47-34 in seven seasons with the Saints. “This group of seniors is the group that was in our youth league when we started seven years ago. We are certainly on the right track and have been led in the right direction by this senior group.
“They represented themselves, their families and their school to the highest of standards. They are a reflection of the Lutheran community. We are tremendously thankful and blessed.”
Neither Pasch nor the Saints belabored two lost fumbles, an interception and two failed attempts to convert on fourth down, all of which were costly against the offensively balanced and defensively aggressive Falcons.
“They gave us huge problems on defense,” Pasch said. “They created a lot of matchup issues, especially at the linebacker spots. They ran their offense well and put us in a tough spot.”
Trailing 10-6, the Saints dominated most of the second quarter and took a 12-10 lead on a 21-yard touchdown run by Andres Jones.
About five minutes later, Lutheran junior quarterback Luke Reid hit Cody Moncel with a short pass from the 3-yard line. Moncel fumbled the ball before reaching the goal line, but teammate Keyen Nowakoski snared the ball in the end zone for the Saints’ second TD.
North Vermillion cut Lutheran’s lead to 19-17 on a 5-yard scoring run by Jacob Earl with 2:44 left in the first half.
North Vermillion gained 185 yards on the ground in the first half; Lutheran ran for only 63 yards but had 94 via the air.
In the second half the Saints went three plays and punted on their first series. And then a fumble, an interception and a turnover on downs were turned into two touchdowns and a field goal by the opportunistic Falcons.
Reid completed 16-of-28 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown. Jones was Lutheran’s leading runner with 11 carries for 58 yards.
The Falcons’ three-way running attack produced more than 300 yards on the ground against the bigger Saints.
After the game the Saints huddled with their coaches as senior Dylan Goodard led the team in prayer. They they joined their families for hugs and a final farewell from high school football – one win short but having added 10 wins to the Saints’ growing tradition.
The Saints were the final Southside team to bow from an impressive 2014 season. Here are the final won-lost records of Southside teams:
Beech Grove (7-5) – 4A sectional finalist … fifth place in Indiana Crossroads Conference.
Center Grove (9-4) – 6A sectional and regional champs …reached semistate finals for fourth straight year … fourth in Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference.
Franklin Central (3-8) – Lost 6A sectional title game to Southport … eighth place in Conference Indiana.
Greenwood (4-6) – Started 4-1 … fourth place in Mid-State Conference.
Manual (0-9) – Redskins have lost 18 straight games.
Perry Meridian (2-8) – Lost to Southport in sectional opener … seventh in Conference Indiana.
Roncalli (7-6) – Avenged season loss to Chatard in sectional semi-final … won 4A sectional … defeated by New Palestine in regional.
Southport (9-3) – 6A sectional champions … lost to Center Grove in regional … second place in Conference Indiana … seventh straight non-losing season.