By Mark Ambrogi
A season that began with a huge disappointment ended with the ultimate triumph for Roncalli.
Just a few hours before its scheduled season opener with Southport, the game was canceled due to a Southport player testing positive for COVID-19.
“I’m not going to lie; I think a lot of people thought we weren’t going to get our season in after that first game got canceled,” Roncalli junior quarterback Aidan Leffler said. “That stunk. Coach (John) Rodenberg made we sure we kept our heads up.”
Leffler tied a Class 4A state championship game record with five touchdown passes in 4A No. 4 Roncalli’s 49-7 romp over No. 7 Hobart Nov. 27 in the Class 4A state final at Lucas Oil Stadium. Leffler completed 12 of 16 passes for 200 yards. Junior receiver Kyle Lockard tied a 4A championship game record with three touchdown catches, including a 51-yarder, for Roncalli, which finished 13-1 and won its 10th state football title.
“Big credit to the offensive line and the receivers for getting open,” Leffler said. “When you have an attack like that it can balance out the pass and the run; it’s really hard to stop.”
Leffler said the team kept improving.
“We could not stay on a plateau, we had to keep getting better,” said Leffler, whose team’s only loss was to 3A state champion Bishop Chatard.
Rodenberg saw that improvement from Leffler as well, who has been starting since his freshman year.
“I told Aidan, I wanted you to turn into a leader and develop those skills to put the team on your back,” Rodenberg said. “I want you to continue to get better and he just took it and ran with it. He’s really developing into a total quarterback.
Rodenberg, in his first year at Roncalli, has now won state titles in three different states, winning two in Ohio with Cincinnati Moeller and one in Kentucky with Covington Catholic.
Senior running back Baron Huebler rushed for 155 yards on 36 carries, including a 2-yard touchdown run. That boosted his season totals to 2,327 yards and 32 TDs.
Roncalli, which announced in the summer it was dropping the Rebels nickname because of negative connotation, was 7-6 in 2019 and 3-7 in 2018 under former coach Scott Marsh.
“It means a lot to the senior group,” Huebler said of the state title. “We’ve been through so much adversity, not even to mention COVID. To cap it off like this, it can’t end any better.”
Senior Dom Brown, who plans to play baseball at University of Indianapolis, had a nice sendoff, too, getting a 91-yard kickoff return for a TD for the final score.
Roncalli senior defensive back Ryan Henry won the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award for 4A.