Center Grove puts 26-game win streak on the line tonight against Ben Davis


S. Findley

Tayven Jackson rushes for a first down in the Trojans’ victory over Lawrence North.

Sam Findley, Sports Editor

After narrowly escaping No. 9 Lawrence North’s upset bid with a 29-19 regional victory, No. 1 Center Grove looks to continue its 26-game winning streak tonight against No. 10 Ben Davis in the semi state championship. Center Grove defeated the Giants 45-21 in week 4 of the regular season.

“This week we are just making sure we don’t overlook Ben Davis and that we just stay focused on what’s right in front of us and not looking ahead to state or all of the other stuff around us. Just focus on us and Ben Davis this week,” senior wide receiver Harrison Stomps said.

Center Grove didn’t come out in their typical dominant fashion against Ben Davis during the regular season, only leading 17-14 at halftime. However, the Trojans turned it on in the second half, scoring 28 unanswered points. Senior defensive end James Schott hopes Center Grove can come out with that same second-half energy in the first half tonight.

“Center Grove has been known as a second half team this year, so I personally think it’s that much more important to not only maintain a dominant second half, but to come out the gate stronger than we have all year and just show all of Indiana we are the best team in the state,” Schott said.

In the Trojans’ win over Ben Davis, junior Drew Wheat led the run-heavy offense with 96 yards and two touchdowns. But, Wheat went out with an injury during last week’s Lawrence North game, so the Trojans will look to Daniel Weems to carry the load if Wheat is not healthy come game time.

“The rushing game pretty much sets the tempo for the game and kinda gets the defense off their feet if we’re moving the ball down the field. [It] just kinda tires [Ben Davis], so it gives us an advantage. My job is to tilt the rock,” Weems said.

Senior quarterback Tayven Jackson threw for 147 yards without a touchdown against Lawerence North. If the wheels fall off the Trojans run game, which has been something Ben Davis has been capable of doing, limiting Brownsburg last week to 138 rushing yards and no touchdowns, Center Grove and Jackson will need to rebound off their down week in the pass game. Junior wide receiver Zach Greller knows just how important the passing game will be for the Trojans this week.

“Our pass game will be essential in this game if our run game struggles because BD has a high powered offense, and we will need to score points,” Greller said.

Unlike Center Grove, the Giants’ pass game has been red hot recently with Ben Davis quarterback Juan Swanson passing for 295 yards and one touchdown in the Giants’ regional upset over Brownsburg. Swanson’s number one target, Brady Simmons, had 192 yards and one touchdown last week and will be CG cornerback Parker Doyle’s top priority.

“The keys [to cover Simmons are] simple: play sound coverage and tackle. If we lock Simmons up, there is not much they will be able to do,” Doyle said.

Even with Doyle focused on the pass game, head coach Eric Moore acknowledges the difficulties of facing strong passing teams this late in the postseason.

“Their offense is a little bit unique. They spread the field out and throw it around, so we have to be able to run to the flats and make tackles,” Moore said. “This time of the year you can’t tackle a lot because you gotta dance with who you bring; you can’t get guys hurt in practice. The defense is making a concerted effort to try to do a better job of tackling in the flats.”

A win against Ben Davis would send the Trojans to state for the third consecutive year, as well as securing the team’s 27th straight win. Not every coach gets the opportunity to coach a group like this, and Moore knows how special this run has been for the Trojans.

“That’s what you dream of, and doing it two years in a row would be almost epic for any school, let alone our school,” Moore said. “Winning our 27th straight game would be just, it’s all sort of just like ‘pinch me, am I awake?’ but the kids put a lot of hard work into this and we fully expect to go out there and give great effort.”