Big tests are ahead for reigning state champs 6A Center Grove and 1A Lutheran and state championship challengers 4A Roncalli and 5A Whiteland.
Those four Southside teams are part of the Elite Eight in their class. The showdown battles in IHSAA’s regionals find Warren Central (6-5) at Center Grove (9-2), favored Whiteland (10-1) hosts Plainfield (6-5), New Palestine (12-0) is at Roncalli (11-1) in one of the state’s top matchups, and Providence (9-2) visits undefeated and dominant Lutheran (12-0). All games are Friday at 7 p.m.
There are two rematches: Center Grove edged Warren Central, 17-8 in the season opener and Whiteland belted Plainfield, 45-14 as the Warriors claimed a share of the Mid-State title.
Friday, Warren Central disposed of visiting Perry Meridian, 43-7 and Plainfield knocked out Decatur Central, 13-10.
Center Grove rolled over Columbus North with a strong second-half attack, 49-14 for its 12th sectional trophy. The Trojans led 14-0 at the half on touchdown passes from Tyler Cherry to Noah Clay for four yards and to T.J. Williams for seven yards.
In the second half, CG exploded for five touchdowns. Cherry connected with Coy on a 22-yard score. The rest of the TDs came from Hohlt, Micah Coyle, Jack Browning, and Griffin Hennessey on the ground.
Coyle led the Trojans rushing attack with 139 yards on 20 carries. CG pounded out 269 yards on the ground while Cherry completed eight passes for 120 yards and three TDs which kept the Bulldogs defense honest.
OFFENSE AT ITS BEST
Lutheran’s Kam Patterson and Jonny Hall for the Sack, one of the 14 in the sectional championship game.
Lutheran keeps putting up unbelievable numbers on offense. After defeating host Covenant Christian, 56-0 Friday, the Saints have outscored three sectional foes, 161-0. The Saints powerhouse offense outscored opponents during the season, 454 to 122 points.
The Saints claimed their ninth sectional trophy with another offensive barrage, mostly on the passing game. Sophomore quarterback Jackson Willis completed 14 of 18 passes for 249 yards and five touchdowns. L.J. Ward caught two TD passes and Micah Mackay, Cur’Brian Shelby, and Devuan Jones each snared one.
Lutheran’s defense scored twice as Jaekwon Akins picked up a fumbled football and returned it 30 yards and Jonny Hall returned an interception for a 30-yard TD.
The Saints held Covenant Christian to 48 yards total offense.
Whiteland claimed its seventh sectional trophy by shutting out Franklin for the second time this season, 24-0.
Coached by veteran Darrin Fisher, the Warriors rely on a solid ground game.
Quarterback Kevin Denham mixed it up enough by completing three passes for 77 yards with two of those completions in the end zone. His 24-yard TD pass to Cameron Cooper produced an insurmountable 17-0 lead in the third quarter.
Running backs Johnathan Crowley and Peyton Emberton led the Warriors game with 138 yards combined. Emberton put the crowning touch on the scoring with a 10-yard run in the fourth quarter.
Meanwhile, Whiteland’s defense shut out the Grizzly Cubs and held them to only 67 yards on the ground.