Senior staff writer
Lutheran junior linebacker Dante Atkins leaned over and hugged senior lineman Jacob Brouse while veteran coach
Dave Pasch spoke to the Saints on their home field Friday for the last time this season. The No. 7 Saints listened through many tears at the south end of the field while the No. 6 North Vermillion Falcons celebrated their 1A semistate title 14-7.For the fourth time in five years Lutheran came up short,
one win away from going to the state championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
“This is the hardest loss,” Pasch said in a postgame interview. “We’re proud that our program has been this far again, but these semistate losses get to you – it’s difficult.”
Pasch made it a point to make sure that all the many underclassmen hug seniors Brouse, lineman Mark Caster and Brett Reid and wide receiver Ben Settlemyer before they left the field. Caster, 6-3, 255 pounds, played on both sides of the ball. Their four-year record was 39-16, reaching one regional and three semistates.
“Our seniors and all the guys who have been here before this season have left a legacy that brings expectation,” Pasch said. “The expectation is real to be competitive and to achieve at a high level. Honestly when we ended our summer scrimmage we just weren’t a very good football team. We challenged the kids, and they really bought into it and believed."
Playing their third semistate at home Friday, the Saints and Falcons battled to a scoreless first-half deadlock. Lutheran’s defense stopped two Falcons drives on fourth down in the red zone.
However, Lutheran had separate drives snuffed by two procedure penalties and two 15-yard penalties.
In the third quarter the Falcons stunned the home crowd with a 1-yard scoring run, an intercepted pass and a 41-yard TD romp. The determined Saints came back in the fourth quarter on McFadden’s nifty 35-yard run. Lutheran stopped North Vermillion on the 9 with five minutes to go but an intercepted pass doomed the Saints.
The Saints have 12 juniors, 11 sophomores and nine freshmen, so expectations will be high again next year.
“We’re not at the pinnacle until we’re playing that 15th week and the blue ribbons are placed around our neck,” Pasch said.
The Saints finished 10-4 after starting 3-3 and fashioning a seven-game win streak.
Trojans fall short in upset bid
Visiting Center Grove pushed No. 1 Warren Central to the finish in a 6A semistate nail-biter Friday.The No. 9 Trojans’ upset bid ended with 58 seconds left when the Warriors (14-0) stopped quarterback Jackson Moore behind the 1-yard line in a 27-20 squeaker.
CG trailed 20-0 after seven minutes with the third score coming on a 20-yard run after recovering a Trojans fumble. The Trojans rallied to tie at 20 with three TDs on two short runs by Brian Gaffney and a 1-yard run. WC scored the eventual game winning TD with 4:50 remaining. CG’s last drive started on the 28 and reached just 12 inches short of the goal line.
“We fought back – we’re Center Grove Trojans,” coach Eric Moore said of the showdown between the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference teams.
After a 2-3 start the Trojans finished 9-4 and reached the semistate for the 13th time in 18 years.