Senior staff writer
Some will say Center Grove didn’t need it; but the Trojans really had to have it – a grind-it-out-Class-6A-championship drive that iced down the school’s second state football crown.
Leading 21-16 with a little over eight minutes remaining in the game, the Trojans knew what they had to do. No. 3 Penn had just scored and needed the football back if it wanted to topple No. 1 Center Grove.
Penn didn’t see get ball back for more than seven minutes.
The not-to-be-denied Trojans put together a 14-play, 77-yard drive that fittingly ended with junior running back Titus McCoy’s fourth-and-1 touchdown plunge behind Cameron Tidd and Jovan Swann with 1:41 left. The score touched off a celebration inside Lucas Oil Stadium and later on campus inside Vandemeer Gymnasium.
McCoy, the wing-T offense’s workhorse, carried the football 10 times for 77 yards in the final drive; for the night he gained 193 yards on 27 carries and had three touchdowns. Jackson Holt ran 10 times for 45 yards, and Lee Clinker had 61 yards on four carries.
McCoy’s earlier scores on runs of 38 yards and 1 yard put the Trojans ahead 7-0 in the first quarter and 21-10 in the third quarter.
“He gives you everything he’s got,” coach Eric Moore said. “They (teammates) love Titus; he is easy to block for. He is a great spiritual kid. The great thing about Titus McCoy – he’s back next year.”
This was a team victory for the ages.
“We had that undefeated monkey on our shoulder all year long,” Moore said. “Our kids did a great job of focusing. We wanted to not beat ourselves and worry only about Center Grove. We had perfect effort for the perfect season … a great year – perfection.”
CG’s defense held Penn scoreless until Samuel Scholtes connected on a 21-yard field goal with 3:10 left in the first half. The Trojans’ defense opened by holding Penn to six yards in three plays and 19 yards in five plays.
In the second half, Penn scored on a 15-yard pass and a 10-yard run; each time the Trojans countered with a scoring drive.
Defensively, Blake Morgan led the Trojans with eight solo tackles; Tyler Pence had six solo tackles and a late-game interception; and Tidd had five solo tackles and one sack. Bailey Bennett had four tackles and five assists.
The Trojans also set two offensive records for a 6A championship game: most rushing yards, 312, and most first downs rushing, 13.
McCoy set six title game records: 18 points; three touchdowns; 27 rushing attempts; 195 yards rushing; three rushing touchdowns; and longest TD run (tie), 38 yards.
In this the Year of the Quarterback on the Southside, third-generation football player Joey Siderewicz connected with Triston Clark for a 6-yard TD for a 14-0 lead.
A throng of 8,000 Center Grove fans were boisterous throughout the championship game, which ended with the Trojans celebrating their second state championship since 2008.
McCoy ran for 1,912 yards with 299 carries (6.4 yards per carry) and 28 touchdowns this season. Siderewicz was workmanlike at quarterback, completing 79-of-122 passes (64.8 percent) for 10 touchdowns.
Thirteen players had 20 or more tackles during the season, with Pence and Tidd, 66 each, and Bennett and Swann, 65 each, leading the way.
The seniors posted a three-year record of 34-6, a state championship, three sectional and regional championships, a semistate championship and two more semistate appearances. They capped their careers with a 14-0 campaign and outright Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference championship.
The Trojans brought home the Southside’s 14th football championship; Roncalli has won eight times, Franklin Central four and Center Grove twice.
(Note: Southsider Voice online Editor Nathan Pace contributed to this article.)