State Class A champion Lutheran and Class 5A runner-up Whiteland high schools are at the top of their respective classes among all high school football teams in Indiana, according to the National Football Foundation (NFF) and College Hall of Fame.
For the second consecutive year, Lutheran also is the overall Indiana state champion and is a contender among 12 teams for the NFF Hatchell Cup High School Academic Excellence award nationally.
To be eligible for the state academic class honor, the football team must have a cumulative 3.0-plus on a 4.0 scale, superior academic application and performance, and a successful football season. As state class champions, Lutheran and Whiteland were eligible for the overall state award that was earned by Lutheran.
On the football fields, Lutheran (15-0) won its second straight title by defeating Adams Central, 30-13 at Lucas Oil Stadium. Whiteland (12-2) won seven straight games but fell to Valparaiso in the Warriors first-ever state final contest against Valparaiso, 35-31.
Lutheran coach Dave Pasch also serves as the high school’s dean of students.
Pasch praised the Saints theme of “excellence in everything” that has guided the Saints football players towards academic excellence.
“We tell the kids that you don’t succeed without excellence,” Pasch said while revealing that LHS is the overall NFF state champion, too. “We emphasize who you are, your participant success in the classroom and with the football team, and your experiences for success in all things.”
Whiteland coach Darrin Fisher stands equally as proud of his NFF Class 5A state academic champions.
“This group dedicated themselves to ‘Strengthening the Team’ in all areas,” Fisher said in a press statement. “The result was the best season in school history and our first trip to the state championship game.”
Fisher continued, “Thirty-nine of our players made the A/B Honor Roll, many with their highest academic career during the first semester of the 2022-2023 school year. The hard work of WCHS faculty, our academic coordinator Megan Pawlowski, and our young men made this a reality.”
Fisher has coached at Whiteland for 18 years; Pasch has been at Lutheran for 15 years.
Pasch also used the NFF state champion award for the opportunity to praise the Indiana High School Athletic Association.
“They (IHSAA) are aligned with the philosophy that athletics is the extension of the classroom,” Pasch said. “And that is prevalent here because we know at Lutheran that it will carry forward.”
Both coaches emphasized their study table and emphasis on education.
Pasch added, “Our teachers also hold the kids accountable in the classroom. We have a building full of teachers who work hard for the student’s success.”
The NFF state class winners included 2A Evansville Mater Dei, 3A West Lafayette, 4A Columbia City, and 6A Cathedral high schools.