Senior staff writer
Center Grove, Greenwood and Lutheran will play for football sectional titles Friday.
The Trojans and Saints face strong opponents while Greenwood has a rematch against a Mid-State foe.
In 6A, No. 13 Center Grove (5-5) hosts No. 12 Columbus North (9-1) in Sectional 8; in 4A Sectional 22, No. 11 Greenwood (9-2) travels to Mooresville (3-8); and in 1A Sectinal 46, No. 2 Lutheran (9-2) host No. 11 Hagerstown (10-1). All games start at 7 p.m.
Franklin Central, Roncalli, Southport and Perry Meridian bowed out Friday.
Conference Indiana’s Franklin Central scored first Friday against visiting Center Grove, but the opportunistic Trojans unleashed their patented wing-T attack for a dominating 35-3 win in their first meeting since 1990.
The Flashes opened with an impressive 18-play, 67-yard drive that resulted in a 28-yard field goal by Quinn Ferguson. The drive took over nine minutes with running back Michael Pitz picking up 49 yards in 12 carries; Pitz would gain only 17 more as the Trojans adjusted their defense.
The Trojans came back with a 83-yard drive capped by freshman Carson Steele’s first of three touchdowns, this one on a 3-yard carry for a 7-3 lead. The Flashes went three-and-out and punted to Riley Roberts, who returned it 42 yards for a touchdown and a 14-3 halftime lead.
Coach Grant Lewis’ Flashes got the break they needed when recovering a CG fumble at midfield. Franklin Central was on the 11-yard line when quarterback Dylan Bishop’s pass was picked off by Keegan Gephart. Center Grove then took control with a 77-yard march capped by Cam Petty’s 2-yard touchdown run.
Steele tacked on two more rushing touchdowns in the fourth quarter for the final margin.
The Flashes (8-2), who had won seven straight, move to the Hoosier Crossroads Conference next season.
Center Grove faces its second straight Conference Indiana foe in Columbus North, which was defeated 28-20 by the Flashes earlier this season.
CG coach Eric Moore attributed the Trojans latest win to its experience in the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference and 6A playoffs, reaching the state championship game for two straight years.
The Trojans are 16-3 since 6A was formed in 2013.
Greenwood dominated visiting Mount Vernon 50-6 with a punishing ground game. The Woodmen gained 343 yards on the ground with three TDs by Nick Willham, two by Brandon Rosado and one each by quarterback Seth Gallman and Oliver Rau.
The Woodmen got off to another fast start with a 22-0 first-quarter lead.
In its early season 51-21 win against Mooresville, the Woodmen were effective on the ground and air. After losing eight straight games, the Pioneers have won three in a row under former Indian Creek coach Mike Gillin, outscoring two playoff opponents 103-48.
Lutheran rolled over its second straight playoff opponent, South Decatur 55-12.
Hagerstown, the Saints’ opponent, is on a 10-game winning streak after dropping their season opener to Shenandoah. The Tigers feature a solid passing attack and a promising ground game. The Saints feature all-time leading rusher Andre Jones and a defense that has excelled in stopping passing games.
In sectional action last Friday, No. 3 Roncalli’s season ended against No. 1 Cathedral 28-23, but not without a bold comeback try. Trailing 28-10, Roncalli quarterback Conner Gore and Jacob Luedeman combined for a 21-yard touchdown on the first play of the fourth quarter. The duo later scored on a 5-yard TD pass with 4:45 left.
Roncalli (8-2) got the ball back on its 36 with 39 seconds left, not enough time to complete the comeback in its first 5A sectional encounter. Gore completed 21-of-30 passes for 250 yards.
In 6A, Southport (5-5) milked the clock for more than eight minutes in the first quarter and held No. 6 Avon scoreless. The Orioles (8-2) led 7-2 at the half but exploded for four TDs in the third quarter for a 33-2 romp at Cardinal Stadium. Perry Meridian (1-9) fell to No. 8 Brownsburg 56-3.