Senior staff writer
Roncalli senior Paul Agresta knew exactly what the Rebels’ offensive line needed to do Friday night in the sectional championship game against Greenwood.
“We felt we could move the ball whenever we wanted,” the veteran center said. “We’re confident in our guys, and that’s what we did – we moved it.”
Class 4A Bo. 1 Roncalli (12-0) dominated the host Woodmen (8-4) by scoring three times on the ground and three times from the air for 42-6 win.
The romp was a welcome relief for the Rebels, who survived one week earlier with a last-second field goal for a one-point semifinal sectional triumph.
Roncalli attacked quickly with a 71-yard TD pass from senior quarterback Derek O’Connor to junior receiver Jacob Luedeman, who later caught an 8-yard pass for a 28-6 lead in the third quarter.
The Rebels were joined in the win column by reigning 6A champion No. 2 Center Grove, which defeated host and No. 9 Columbus East, coached by Greenwood native Tim Bless, 41-14, and 1A No. 12 Lutheran, a 48-27 winner at Hagerstown.
All three winners will host regional championship games Friday. Center Grove faces No. 1 Warren Central (10-1), 50-20 victors over Southport. Roncalli meets Delta (8-4) and Lutheran (9-3) faces No. 11 Fountain Central (11-1). All games start at 7 p.m.
Roncalli outgained the Woodmen 379-153 yards as the Rebels’ offensive and defensive lines handcuffed Greenwood. The Rebels limited Greenwood’s one-two ground punch of Brandon Rosado and Isaiah Borjas to 60 yards on 21 combined carries.
“Our kids up front just played hard,” Roncalli coach Bruce Scifres said. “If you’re winning that battle at the line of scrimmage, the odds are that you have a really good chance of winning the game. We were able to do what we hoped we would.”
Although Roncalli held Greenwood to 70 yards of offense in the first half, the Rebels led only 20-6 thanks to a late second-quarter mistake that pumped up the Woodmen. A costly fourth-down high snap resulted in a short Woodman drive from the 13, capped by a 6-yard scoring strike from quarterback Seth Gallman to Conner Battinau with 30 seconds left in the half.
A holding penalty nullified a 46-yard scoring romp by Brandon Rosado in the first quarter.
Roncalli kicked off to the recharged Woodmen to start the third quarter. The Woodmen gained only 20 yards in seven plays and were forced to quick kick from its 34. Roncalli scored on the subsequent drive to thwart any comeback.
“We got that one score and wanted another score when we got the ball back; they put the fire out quickly,” Greenwood coach Mike Campbell said. “Roncalli has a tremendous team; they outhit us and out-physicalled us.’
Senior running back Kenny Gillum scored two TDs and rushed for 146 yards on 18 carries. O’Connor completed 8-of-12 passes for 167 yards and three TDs.
The Rebels on both sides of the ball are a mix of seniors and juniors who particularly have shored up the defense.