Undefeated Trojans open post-season play at Columbus North

Senior+Mason+Long+runs+downfield+in+the+team%27s+57-14+victory+at+Pike.

photo by Abby Matthews

Senior Mason Long runs downfield in the team’s 57-14 victory at Pike.

Earl Ridlen, Staff Writer

When No. 1 and undefeated Center Grove hits the field tonight, the team will have a whole different mentality. Rather than just another game, it’s the post season now. Five games. If the Trojans lose, they’re eliminated. 

“It’s the playoffs,” said senior wide receiver Kodie George. “It’s the drive for five. We have five games to win it all, and if we lose, we’re out. I think that speaks for itself.”

During the regular season, CG won each game with an average point differential of 33.6 points, including a 38 point differential in MIC games. Going undefeated is an accomplishment that has only been achieved one other time in the history of Center Grove football: the historic 2015 state title campaign. 

The Trojans proved two week ago against 5A No. 1 Cathedral that they could compete against top competition, scoring the go-ahead touchdown with 16 seconds to go in the game. Center Grove is looking to use the momentum of that come-from-behind win over Cathedral to propel them through the playoffs. 

“I mean, the past couple of weeks have been great,” said senior safety Braytton Spetter. “But those games are behind us now. Now, it’s the playoffs. We still need to stick to what we know and who we are [but] now we’re playing for something more.”

Columbus North enters tonight’s game with a 6-2 record, with a point differential of 13.25 points. Quarterback Luke Hammons is versatile, with 1198 passing yards and 820 rushing yards, as well as 12 passing and seven rushing touchdowns and only 2 interceptions. Columbus North running back Ian Calvert is also a threat with 1047 rushing Yards and 16 TDs. 

“We need to have a better mindset than the other team,” said junior safety Mitchell Evans. “We need to treat this game just like it’s any other game and we need to treat this week just like any other.”

One difference in tonight’s game will be the atmosphere. With the Bartholomew County Health Department restricting the number of fans in attendance, Center Grove was only allotted 250 tickets for tonight’s game.

“The environment at Columbus is going to be non-existent,” senior tight end Garrett Keith said. “They are barely allowing any fans into the game, so in order to overcome that, we need to focus on the game and each other and not worry about who’s in the stands or who’s not in the stands. We need to play sound, turnover-free football. We can’t make stupid mistakes that put ourselves in bad positions. If we do that and play football like we know we can, we will be fine.”

A win tonight would mean advancing to the sectional championship. It would also mean that the Trojans would win their tenth straight first-round matchup, with their most recent loss being in 2010. 

“The key to this week is to be mentally tough,” said safeties coach Tom Blanck. “It’s easy to be physically tough [and] to hit people. But we need mental toughness. We need to read our keys, not get too full of ourselves, and we need to win with our minds.”