Football team faces No. 2 Carroll in chance at 5th state title


Sam Findley

During the 33-10 semi state victory over Cathedral, senior defensive end Ryne Roehling chases down Irish quarterback Danny O’Neil. Roehling had three solo tackles and 2.5 tackles for loss in the game.

Micah Robertson, Sports Editor

For a fourth straight year, the Trojans have found their way back to Lucas Oil. A chance to win three consecutive state championships, something that has never been done before in school history, is waiting for the team Friday night. A victory would bring home the team’s fifth state title, all of which have come under the command of Head Coach Eric Moore.

Matching up against the reigning state champs is undefeated, No. 2 ranked Carroll. In a clash of the unbeatens last week, Carroll posted a 21-15 victory over Hamilton Southeastern, paving the way toward a potential perfect season. 

The Trojans punched their ticket to the championship a week ago with a convincing 33-10 win over No. 4 Cathedral. Despite falling behind 10-0 early in the first quarter, Center Grove responded with 33 unanswered points, and senior defensive end Ryne Roehling believes the team will carry over the energy from last week.

“Last week’s dominant win over Cathedral gave us confidence that if we play to the best of our ability as a unit, we can completely control any game against any team,” Roehling said. “Cathedral has an elite offense with multiple division one players, and our ability to hold them to three shutout quarters showed us that if we play at our best, we can shut any team we play down. This helps our team understand the importance of being completely locked in during practice, and especially for all four quarters of the game on Friday. We have struggled to pitch a full game of elite defense, so this allows us to understand that we are more than capable of being elite for a full game.”

Leading the offense for the Trojans Friday night is junior quarterback Tyler Cherry. Cherry has shown his ability to consistently perform at the highest level. Through 13 games this season, he has thrown for 2,124 yards with a 64.9 percent completion rate. On top of this, he’s recorded 21 touchdowns with only 5 interceptions on the year. This will be the first time for Cherry to start in a state championship game, but his confidence isn’t wavering.

“I’m not very worried about being a starter for the first time in state; I’m just trying to play my game and do our thing as a team,” Cherry said. “Our biggest focus is to be physical up front with them. They haven’t played a team like us that can run right at them every play or throw over them too.”

On the defensive side of the ball, the Trojans will look to their linemen to make big stops and stifle Carroll’s attacks. Roehling has been at the forefront of the defensive effort all season long, recording 25 total tackles along with 3.5 sacks thus far. He knows what is being asked of the line and trusts in their ability to deliver.

“The defensive line will have to play physical and fast against a very physical Carroll team,” Roehling said. “Other than wildcat, Carroll mostly runs formations that we have seen earlier in the season, so the defensive line needs to be physical and fast in order to shut down the run game, especially with the wildcat being a large amount of their offense compared to what a team would usually try to accomplish with wildcat. If we can stop the run, we can put Carroll in bad situations in passing downs and be able to get after the quarterback in 2nd and 3rd and longs.”

In contrast to Center Grove’s eight state title game appearances, this will be Carroll’s first trip to the championship. Junior receiver Noah Coy recognizes that this is something the Trojans need to capitalize on.

“My first state game was very surreal,” Coy said. “Being in the game before has allowed us to get used to the different pregame events that happen at Lucas Oil. There are a lot of weird things that force teams to rush during their warmups. We have also played in front of bigger crowds and are comfortable performing in front of them.” 

This will be the first time in the history of the two schools that Center Grove and Carroll have met each other on the football field. Facing such an unfamiliar opponent is atypical, but that has not changed how the Trojans prepared this week.

“Preparing for a team we’ve never played before is fairly similar to any other week because we try to focus on fixing our mistakes without worrying about what the opponent does,” Roehling said. “Coach Moore frequently refers to this as ‘our opponent has no face’. This will allow us to adjust to what Carroll tries to do on Friday night, and play our game, and not spend time worrying about the opponent, but rather controlling what we can control as a team.”

Finishing the season with a state championship trophy three years in a row would leave a mark of unparalleled greatness in class 6A. Senior receiver Zach Greller feels that a win Friday would have meaning to which nothing could compare.

“Winning Friday would create a legacy for the team that is unprecedented,” Greller said. “Playing with these guys going into my last game ever… I wouldn’t want to be going into with anyone else. And with Coach Moore at the helm, I couldn’t be more confident.”