Senior staff writer
Thousands of fans joined in a celebration of football Friday at Perry Meridian High School’s first on-campus football game.
Tailgaters began to gather two hours before game time at Falcon Stadium, and long lines of fans stretched from the entrance gates beyond the main entrance to the school. Mayor Joe Hogsett was among the dignitaries, and former Perry Meridian football players were recognized at halftime.
Everything was in place for the celebration – with one exception ... visiting Greenwood dimmed the party atmosphere with a 34-7 win as Ray Skillman Family Field was christened.
“I think when you look at a handful of plays that could have gone either way, the complexion of the game becomes different,” Falcons coach Matt Henninger said outside the team’s new locker room. “We’ll point that out to the kids and turn it around into winning plays that will help us later. We will get better.”
With Greenwood leading 6-0 in the second quarter, the Woodmen’s Alex Walker picked off a Brooks Davis pass and returned it 46 yards for a touchdown.
Greenwood’s Brandon Rosado pushed the Woodmen up 21-0 with a 3-yard scoring run in the third quarter. Coach Mike Campbell then rested the 5-5 senior running back after he gained 136 yards on 23 carries. His TD was set up by a 35-yard pass reception by senior RJ Myers.
“The line (offense) did what they had to do,” Rosado said. “The first game of the season and being a senior, I had a little bit of nerves. We knew there would be a huge crowd and they would come out and play hard in their first game on their field. It made us more nervous as a team.”
Any nervousness went away in the second half.
Rosado capped a busy week that began one weekend earlier when singing with the Greenwood choir with Foreigner at the Klipsch Center.
“Football is still the best thing for me to do,” said Rosado, who is a baritone. “We met them; they were very nice guys, but I didn’t have anything for them to sign when I met them.”
Greenwood senior quarterback Seth Gallman passed for 114 yards and two touchdowns and popped a 35-yard run. Senior Connor Battinau caught the two TD passes among his eight receptions. Wide receiver RJ Myers snared a 35-yrd pass.
Led by Walker, D-back Noah Compton and lineman Nick Young, Greenwood’s defense held the Falcons to 182 yards of offense. Perry Meridian junior running back Franklin Hammond gained 84 yards on 21 carries and scored a TD with one minute left in the game.
Campbell praised the Falcons, stating, “What an atmosphere. It was a great night for their fans and the mayor was here. They will be in the Mid-State next year and the rest of the conference will find out this is a great place to play.”
Lutheran upended Beech Grove as the Saints christened their first artificial turf field with a 28-14 triumph. Tied at 14, Saints running back Andre Jones scored TDs of 15 and 52 yards in the third quarter. Beech Grove quarterback Jordan Reel threw scoring passes of 12 and 38 yards in the first quarter.
Under new coach Scott Marsh, Roncalli dealt visiting Southport a 21-3 loss after spotting the Cardinals a 3-0 lead on Hunter Cocherell’s 26-yard field goal. Roncalli then rolled on TD runs by Elijah Mahan (46 yards) and Patrick McManama (1 yard) and a 37-yard scoring pass from quarterback Conner Gore to Jacob Luedeman.
Franklin Central defeated highly regarded Decatur Central 31-20. Flashes quarterback Dylan Bishop threw for 214 yards and three TDs. Most passes went to wide receivers Maliki Parks, five catches for 128 yards and one TD, and Jaylen Wilson, four catches for 36 yards and two TDs.
FC’s defense was led by Austin McIntosh, 12 tackles, one interception; Eli Weeks, 16 tackles; Nate Talhelm, 12 tackles; and Mateo Hodge, eight tackles and one interception.
In a 6A and a Metro Interscholastic Conference opener, No. 4 Center Grove spotted host No. 3 Warren Central a 27-0 lead before closing to 27-24 at the end of the third quarter. Freshman running back Carson Steele propelled the comeback with TD runs of 2 yards and 1 yard.
Steele finished with 132 yards on 17 carries. Defensive leaders were senior Austin Daming and junior Tommy Robinson, 11 tackles each, and senior Keegan Gebhart, 10 tackles.