Rebels and Saints to regionals, Trojans to semi-state
Senior staff writer
Roncalli survived gigantic momentum shifts against Greenwood; Center Grove swept Warren Central for the first time; and Lutheran dominated another Class A opponent Friday in the state football tournament.
The teams continue their postseason drives Friday as 6A No. 1 Center Grove (12-0) returns home to face No. 7 Avon (10-2), coached by Greenwood native Mark Bless, with the winner advancing to the state finals in Lucas Oil Stadium. Unranked Delta (9-3) travels to Roncalli (8-4), and No. 13 Class A Lutheran (8-4) journeys to No. 4 North Vermillion (11-1).
Class 4A No. 9 Roncalli latched onto the deciding momentum change against Greenwood at Woodman Field and claimed the Sectional 21 championship 35-19 in a game that was much closer than the final score.
The Rebels dominated the first half with a stingy defense that led to a 14-0 lead on a 1-yard run by quarterback Robbie Strader and a blocked punt that was returned 2 yards for a touchdown by defensive back Alex Kuntz near the end of the first quarter. Roncalli’s defense held Greenwood to three-and-outs on its first three possessions.
Momentum shifted to the Woodmen when they retaliated with a 46-yard TD pass from sophomore Seth Gallman to Dylan Rosado midway in the second quarter. The Rebels led 21-7 at the half.
Greenwood’s Rosado returned the second-half kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown while streaking down the sideline in front of the Rebels’ bench. Greenwood cut the lead to 21-19 on a 3-yard TD pass from Gallman to his brother, John Gallman.
Greenwood later stopped Roncalli on four plays inside the 1-yard line in the fourth quarter but fumbled the ball away on the first play. Roncalli scored four plays later and recovered the ensuing squib kickoff.
Strader connected with senior Justin Saylor on a 17-yard pass to put the Rebels 99th postseason win on ice.
“They returned the kickoff and had momentum on their side, but our kids just kept fighting,” Roncalli coach Bruce Scifres said. “That’s been a trademark of this group; the way they have hung in there through adversity all season long.
“It would have been easy for our guys to fold but they didn’t. They hung in there and kept fighting. To play one more week – that was our goal when we came in here.”
Roncalli is on a six-game winning streak after opening 2-4. Since then the Rebels have overcome several injuries, but running back Nate Fries explained the comeback and team’s postseason surge.
“We got ourselves in some holes, but we kept on playing hard,” said Fries, who rushed 34 times for 114 yards. “We put our minds to it, cut our mistakes, made plays and played good football. I did my part, my teammates did their part, and we pulled out the victory.”
Roncalli racked up 381 yards of offense, including 218 on the ground and limited Greenwood to 125 yards rushing and 143 passing. Strader completed 9-of-16 passes for 162 yards; Smock had four receptions for 85 yards.
Greenwood finished 7-5 and runners-up in the Mid-State and sectional. Greenwood graduates 13 seniors, including running back John Gallman, who ran for 66 yards on 13 carries against Roncalli and defensive standouts Jackson Daugherty, who had four interceptions in three sectional games, and 235-pound defensive lineman Jordan Anderson.
“We’re proud of our seniors,” Greenwood coach Mike Campbell said. “What a tremendous group of young men that we as coaches had the privilege to be around. They were fantastic all season.”
Evaluating the season, Campbell added, “The maturity of this team showed in their ability to rise up was unbelievable. A lot of people didn’t have very many expectations but we certainly had high expectations to become the type of team we could be.”
Center Grove stymies Warren Central
The Trojans lived up to their No. 1 ranking by defeating the No. 5 Warriors 24-13 for their first-time sweep in four seasons since 2003.
Center Grove jumped to a 17-0 first-half lead on Titus McCoy’s two TDs and a 29-yard field goal by Nathaniel Snyder. CG’s Cameron Tidd blocked a 35-yard field goal attempt to end the first half.
McCoy rushed for 126 yards and his third touchdown, a 19-yarder, that iced a 6A regional championship. Juniors Baily Bennett, 10 tackles, and Logan Bontrager, six tackles, led the defense. Junior Sam Bolin recovered two fumbles.
The Trojans went 0-2 against Warren Central in 2003 and ’09 and split in ’13.
Coach Eric Moore’s Trojans have reached the Final Four for the fifth straight season. Center Grove won the state championship in 2008.
Saints flying high
Lutheran’s offense outdistanced visiting Cambridge City Lincoln on the ground and in the air for a 56-24 victory. The Saints gained 352 yards on the ground and added 218 aerial yards as quarterback Jake Reid completed 11-of-16 passes.
Andre Jones rushed for 191 yards, Kyle Johnson for 105.
The Saints led 49-8 at the end of the third quarter en route to capturing their third sectional championship.
Lutheran outscored its three sectional opponents 166-66.