Trojans football team looks to close regular season with perfect record


Earl Ridlen and Sam Findley

A regular-season perfect record and a win streak of 23 games is on the line for the No. 1 Trojans this Friday against No. 2 Cathedral. This will be Center Grove’s last game before playoffs, and senior Tayven Jackson knows the hype and attention are real, but not as important as what is going on on the field.

“This game is important because it’s the next game,” Jackson said. “There is a lot of hype going into it but really, to us, even big time games are just another game, so we’re going to treat it like any other game and play hard and be physical.”

Last week Jackson exploded for the Trojans against Lawrence North throwing for a career five touchdowns and 179 yards. Although Center Grove has not depended on Jackson to play that well throughout the season, another great week from the Tennessee commit will surely help. 

“He is a big part in most of our runs and all of our passes,” Coach Joe Siderewicz said. “In the run game, for most of our runs he’s a big part of them in how he’s always reading the defense in whether to give it or not. In the passing game he needs to be accurate and make good decisions. He’s critical to the entire offense.”

Drew Wheat has become the Trojan’s go-to for their run heavy offense racking up 126 rushing yards last week and a team high 739 total rushing yards on the season. Cathedral will have to stop Wheat and Center Grove’s run game. 

The Trojan’s offensive line will play a key role with Cathedral’s defensive line having many threats including Hudson Miller who has had 35 total tackles and a team high four sacks. Starting left tackle Charlie Gardner knows protecting his quarterback is important.

 “It’s always important to keep the quarterback safe,” Gardner said. “It’ll be especially important this week in the rain with the whole different terrain.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Trojans will have their hands full. Cathedral’s offense relies heavily on the passing game. Danny O’Neil dished the ball out last week for 231 yards and four touchdowns. Bringing O’Neil down early will be a crucial task for the Trojans’ defense. 

“It’s very important to get to the quarterback this week,” James Schott said. “Cathedral is a very experienced team. That quarterback knows how to find his receivers and how to throw so we need to make that job a lot harder for him to help out our [defensive backs].”

The Trojans secondary will need to lock up O’Neil’s multiple options including his favorite deep route-target Jason Tibbs who had 105 receiving yards and one touchdown. 

The Irish’s receiving game also has Michael Page who Cathedral often looks to punch it in with Page having two receiving touchdowns on just two receptions. Junior cornerback Parker Doyle knows limiting big play opportunities will be key for a 23rd straight win.

“The key to having success in the pass game is just playing sound coverage. All the DBs have to do their job and execute their assignments,” Doyle said. “My role is to keep outside contain and make sure I give up no big plays. We have 22 straight wins and it will be 23 after tomorrow.” 

A win against Cathedral would be a perfect end to an 8-0 regular-season record. A win would also set the Trojans up with the confidence they need as they hunt for a consecutive state title. 

“This game is important because it’s the next game,” Coach Moore said. “We started thinking about Cathedral Sunday, just like every other team. But, going undefeated in back-to-back seasons hasn’t been done before, and we have a great opportunity to do that in this game. The key to that is making sure that Center Grove doesn’t beat Center Grove.”