Roncalli football players lift the IHSAA Class 4A regional championship trophy Friday after defeating No. 1-ranked New Palestine, 20-7 at Bob Tully Field. The Royals travel to East Central for a semistate game Friday.
Four Southside football teams are one win away from a short but valued trip to Lucas Oil Stadium for IHSAA championship games.
All four Southside teams are on the road Friday for semistate kick-offs:
6A - No. 2 Center Grove (10-2) plays No. 3 Cathedral (10-1), 7 p.m. at Tech.
5A - No. 2 Whiteland (11-1) at Castle (8-4), 7:30 p.m.
4A - No. 1 Roncalli (12-1) at No. 4 East Central (11-2), 7 p.m.
1A - No. 1 Lutheran (13-0) at North Decatur (13-0), 7 p.m.
The Trojans, reigning 6A champs, disposed of Warren Central, 42-32 for its fifth straight regional championship at Ray Skillman Stadium. Whiteland downed visiting Plainfield, 49-14 for the second time this season. Roncalli plowed over its most challenging playoff foe, No. 1 New Palestine, 20-7. And reigning Class A champ Lutheran continued its class domination by dumping Providence, 49-7.
Of the four remaining Southside teams, only Whiteland is in uncharted territory for the first time since 1999 when the 3A Warriors defeated Mt. Vernon (Posey County) before falling to Roncalli in their only semistate appearance.
Since then, Whiteland has captured five sectional championships but had not claimed a second regional championship until Friday night at James Sleighter Field.
Loaded with a savvy group of seniors, the Warriors enjoyed a No. 1 ranking until they fell at Martinsville, 35-21 in late September. They have rolled to six straight wins since then.
There’s no secret to the Warriors success.
Retiring Plainfield coach Eric Woodard told Andrew Smith of GridironDigest.com, “They’re really good and have very few weaknesses. They were and still are the favorite to come out of the South and rightfully so. Tons of experience and really good players.”
Whiteland coach Darrin Fisher has one word for the Warriors success: “Physicality.”
Fisher explained, ““The courage to hit is the key to our football team. We have had few teams as physical as this one. We have played our best this season when our mindset is attack in all three phases.”
The Warriors led only 21-14 at the end of three quarters and then exploded for four touchdowns in the fourth quarter. This game turned Whiteland’s way in one minute. Sophomore Nyrius Moore-Smith capped a six-play, 76-yard drive with a 33-yard TD run. Three plays later, Moore-Smith intercepted a Plainfield pass and returned it 31 yards for a TD and a massive 35-14 lead.
Whiteland held Plainfield to 137 yards total offense. Meanwhile, the Warriors rushed for 217 yards on the ground, led by Noah Hessong, 96 yards on 23 carries and one TD.
At Roncalli, the Royals verified the fact they have the state’s best O-line as they wore down top-ranked New Palestine, scoring twice after being tied at halftime, 7-7.
The O-line, led by three NCAA D-1 commits Trevor Lauck, Brady Neu, and Luke Skartvedt, out-fought the Dragons defense up front.
Senior Andrew Baugh put the Royals ahead in the third quarter with a three-yard TD. In the fourth quarter, Luke Hansen iced the game with a two-yard TD with only 90 seconds left in a long drive that proved the O-line’s dominance. Hansen gained 195 yards on 34 carries.
Roncalli out-gained New Pal on the ground, 236 to 108 yards.
Roncalli’s defense was led by Judson Lawrie with 11 tackles, Nolan Tunny with nine tackles and Luke Swartz with two key late-game defensive stops.
Roncalli now owns 17 regional championships.
At Center Grove, the Trojans gave visiting Warren Central a full dose of its ground game as senior running back Micah Coyle gained 301 yards on 30 carries and four touchdowns. Coyle’s TD runs came on runs of 45, 9, 62, and 73 yards.
The Trojans offense racked up 470 yards total offense, incluing Tyler Cherry’s 125 yards passing with a 26-yard TD pass to Noah Coy for a 14-0 first-quarter lead.