Looking For Regional Championship, Football Takes on Warren Central

Junior+running+back+Mitchell+Evans+evades+defenders+in+the+Trojans%27+55-7+win+over+Columbus+East.

Junior running back Mitchell Evans evades defenders in the Trojans’ 55-7 win over Columbus East.

Earl Ridlen, Staff Writer

When the Trojans run out of the helmet for the twelfth time this season, they’ll be looking for their third consecutive regional championship. No. 1 and undefeated Center Grove hosts MIC rival Warren Central tonight with a berth in the Final Four on the line.

“[We] can’t underestimate the opponent,” junior safety Mitchell Evans said. “Just because we beat them earlier in the season doesn’t mean anything. We need to focus on this week like it’s a new [opponent] because [we] know they’ve gotten better in the past few weeks.”

Warren Central enters tonight’s game with a 4-5 record, including a 2-5 record in the MIC. Warren Central avenged early season losses to North Central and Lawrence North in their first two sectional games, and now turn their eyes to Center Grove, who won the initial match up 20-0 in the second week of the season. This shows that they have the resilience to show up in the playoffs and perform under pressure. Warren Central’s junior quarterback Prince Powell has thrown for 1099 yards and four touchdowns, adding another eight touchdowns on the ground. 

In the first two state tournament games, Center Grove has used a balanced attack on offense. Against Columbus North in the opening-round game, junior quarterback Tayven Jackson threw for 264 yards and a touchdown, while CG picked up 161 yards and five touchdowns on the ground, including 56 yards by Jackson. The next week, Center Grove relied on its ground game, rushing for 261 yards, with six different players rushing for 25 yards or more, and four different players finding the end zone. Tonight, Center Grove will look to keep its balanced attack rolling.

“Warren Central will challenge us and try to stop the run game as well as the passing game,” senior running back Carson Steele said. “They have gotten a lot better throughout the season as they have played and are a lot better team [than the first time we played them].”

Jackson knows tonight’s game will not be easy, despite Center Grove’s early season 20-0 victory over Warren Central.

“The challenges are to block their guys because they are very physical,” Jackson said. “They’ve gotten more physical and smarter.”

Center Grove has proven this season that they are more than capable of ending a hot streak. When they played 4-0 North Central, they ended their four-game winning streak with a 47-0 victory. When they played 8-2 Columbus East, they ended their seven-game winning streak with a 55-7 win. When they played 8-0 Cathedral, they ended their eight-game winning streak with a 17-14 win. Warren Central is only on a two-game winning streak, but as far as the Trojans are concerned, that’s enough to end it. 

“The most important part is to remember who we are,” senior corner Matt Soederdahl said. “We know that they have improved from the last time we played them, but so have we. We just [have to] remember what to watch for and what we have learned on film. As long as we do our jobs we’ll win.”

Tonight’s game is also important because it would move Center Grove one game closer to Lucas Oil and the state championship game.

“As it often works in life, we need to do what we can to contribute to a greater cause,” safeties’ coach Tom Blanck said. “The football team is a ‘greater cause.’ We need to be a group of young men who work together for the greater purpose of winning [the state championship].”