Two Southside teams did something only a select few get to do during their high school careers. Both teams, The Lutheran Saints and Center Grove Trojans came into their respective matchups undefeated.
The Saints, led by head coach Dave Pasch, had their game first, playing against the Adams Central Flying Jets in the first round of games in the IHSAA State Tournament. With 1:13 left on the game clock, Saints quarterback Montasi Clay broke out on a 12-yard run, making three defenders miss and breaking the 28-28 tie, winning the Saints first-ever state title.
All season, the Saints never trailed by more than two touchdowns until the state championship game. After coming out of a 21-7 deficit in the second quarter, the Saints were able to shorten the Jets lead on a six-yard run just before halftime. Early in the third quarter, Lutheran was able to extend their lead by one score.
“We persevere and we find ways, we lean on each other,” Pasch said, “It comes down to trust and commitment… and we’re full of that.”
One thing Pasch can say is he goes to work with his father, Dick Pasch. Dave said in an interview broadcasted in the stadium that he hopes he’s done his father and mother justice with his coaching.
Game leaders for the Saints included Joe Davis who ran for 86 yards, Micah Mackay who led the Saints in receiving yards, going for 114 yards and two touchdowns and Clay who threw for 243 yards and three touchdowns.
The Trojans did it again. In the rematch of the 2020 championship game, the Trojans came out on top in a nail-biter 27-21 win over Westfield. The matchup was a repeat of last year, where the Trojans won 38-14.
On the first drive, the Trojans were able to make a defensive stop which gave them an opportunity to score, which they acted on but missed the field goal. Afterward Westfield was able to capitalize on their drive. The second quarter is where the Trojans took the lead with a two-yard rushing touchdown from senior defensive end Caden Curry and 30 yard pass from senior quarterback Tayven Jackson to senior wide receiver Harrison Stomps across the middle and down the sideline.
The Trojans final score came in the third quarter after junior running back Micah Coyle took a five yard rush into the end zone. The bigger story of the night was both sides’ defense. One sack and one turnover were the moments that were able to help the Trojans gain momentum.
“Coming into this game, we knew that offense was gonna have us mapped out,” Curry said after the game. “They knew every little weakness in our offense and all the little things that can get yards for them. They took everything they could get. We knew we had to keep fighting and have one or two turnovers and that our offense would keep moving and we could just fight until the end.”
The entire game was a back-and-forth between the Trojans and Shamrocks but it all came down to one play late in the fourth quarter. Westfield quarterback Maximus Webster drops back for a pass and just after he releases, junior linebacker Owen Bright, who up until this year was a running back, made a game-winning interception, sealing the game for the Trojans.
“They had thrown a couple of the same routes over and over inside of me all night and I figured this is the biggest play of the season right here,” Bright said after the game. “It’s win or lose right here so I figured they’d go back to it so I scooted over a little inside and saw the ball come my way, I practiced catching those balls all the time.”
Bright also assisted six total tackles, one sack and two force fumbles.
“You don’t win state championships unless you have good quarterbacks and great defenses, the offense and the quarterback controls the game but defense wins championships and our defense has been unbelievable all season long, 28 straight games,” head coach Eric Moore said.
Other notable stat lines were senior safety Mitchell Evans adding eight total tackles. On offense, Coyle led the Trojans with 79 rushing yards and one touchdown, Jackson threw for 152 yards and one touchdown and Trojans kicker Nolan Foley made three of four extra points.
This game marked the 28th-consecutive win for Center Grove. Being able to extend their streak gave the Trojan seniors a happy final sendoff.
After the game Moore spoke about the game over the intercom at the stadium.
“Tonight was a great high school football game played by two great communities and two great high schools,” Moore said. “Westfield played so hard and did a good job as anybody has in two years of playing us. All the credit to them. Jay Gilbert [Westfield] is a fine high school football coach and their kids competed like champions like tonight.”
After winning state last year, Moore ran into health problems stemming from surgery prep of a knee surgery he scheduled. During a surgery in which one of his kidneys was removed, tumors were found on his bladder. After being given the all-clear in July Moore was able to come back for another year.
“I lost more kidneys than I did football games but I’m ready to roll,” Moore said.