Trojans look to win Copper Kettle for record-setting fifth-straight time

Mya Jones, Staff Writer

The Copper Kettle will be on the line tonight at 7 p.m. as the Trojans travel to Carmel to face the Greyhounds, looking for a record-setting fifth straight victory over Carmel. 

“It would be the first time a team has won [the Copper Kettle] five years straight,” senior running back Jalen Goines said. “That means a lot because, for me, it’s solidifying my class legacy. Freshmen year, the freshman team didn’t win a game the whole season, and that was brutal. So to come out senior year and make history with this would really prove a lot to everyone.” 

Center Grove has opened the season 0-2, dropping games to defending 6A state champion Warren Central and defending 5A state champion New Pal. Although starting with a losing record isn’t ideal, junior running back/wide receiver Connor Delp uses this as motivation. 

 “We started out 0-2 last year and then won the Copper Kettle, which completely turned around our season,” Delp said. “So we know we’re totally capable of coming back and we can only go up from here. Winning would just give us more hope and get our season going.”

Goines also is looking to the Copper Kettle to reroute the season.

 “On Wednesdays before practice, we have a pastor who comes in and talks to us about character and mental strength. That has helped us stay positive because he talks to us about how even though we may feel like we’re losing hope, we have to stay together,” Goines said. “Last year when we started 0-2 we all felt like we were falling behind, and that just served as motivation to improve, so we plan on using this downfall in the same way and hopefully it’ll light up a winning streak again.”

No. 4 Carmel, a team that has started out 1-1 with a loss to Louisville Trinity before winning against Noblesville, has a strong running back in Dylan Downing, who rushed 212 yards last week.

“Defense is really going to have to be physical,” Coach Eric Moore said. “We’ve really worked on tackling, being in the right spots at the right times and all the things that go into competing on the defensive side of the football.” 

Although the players know the challenge of playing such a big game on the road, they’re determined to not let it affect them.

“The environment is entirely different,” Goines said. “The bus ride there is silent; everyone has headphones in and is preparing mentally in whatever way they can, so that time on the bus is one advantage of away games. When we get there, just hearing the other side cheer–that motivates you. It gives you more of a desire to win; it lights a fire.” 

Junior tight end Garrett Keith also finds a way to turn the Carmel stadium’s atmosphere into an advantage.

“I think the atmosphere we create for ourselves helps us maintain energy. We’re such a tight-knit group,” Keith said. “Everyone encourages each other and helps each other stay focused and ready to go.”

That focus will be required going against a team who rushed for 479 yard against Noblesville last week.  

“We have to play as a team if we want to win. During the New Pal game, late in the third quarter especially, we were making careless mistakes and we were quick to fault each other,” Goines said. “If we don’t work together as a team, there’s no way we can even think about making a playoff run.”