High School Sports
Football State Finals Preview: Ben Davis, Brebeuf in quest of titles at Lucas Oil Stadium
The Indiana high school football season concludes Friday and Saturday at the home of the Indianapolis Colts. Here’s a look the championship games in each class:
Class A: Pioneer (14-0) vs. Eastern Greene (11-3), 12 p.m.
While it’s top-ranked Pioneer’s fourth state championship, No. 2 Eastern Greene makes its first appearance, in a run that highlights a tremendous rise for a program that began in 2003 and went 25-86 prior to coach Joey Paridaen’s first season in 2014.
Pioneer has two runner-up finishes in the past three seasons, including last year’s 34-20 loss to Linton-Stockton. Giving up 5.31 points per game, the Panthers have eight shutouts and the state’s highest average margin of victory (43.1).
The game is a showdown between do-it-all quarterbacks. Pioneer’s Jack Kiser has 1,757 yards and 35 touchdowns on the ground, and 1,082 yards and 14 scores through the air. Eastern Greene’s Caleb Hamilton has 2,319 yards and 38 TDs running the ball, and 1,620 yards and 19 scores throwing it.
Class 3A: Brebeuf Jesuit (10-4) vs. Evansville Memorial (13-1), 3:30 p.m.
With a schedule that included five teams in either 5A or 6A, No. 8 Brebeuf was ready come playoff time. They’ve only been pushed once in the postseason, in a 13-10 win over No. 1 West Lafayette.
Third-ranked Memorial set a program record for wins this season, and hopes to claim the school’s third state title of the fall, after the boys and girls soccer teams accomplished the feat.
Brebeuf relies on the throwing of Derrick Ozobu (2,039 yards, 19 TDs), the receiving of Jacob Pressler (883 yards, 10 TDs) and running of Isiah Martin (643 yards, 5 TDs). Memorial does the same with QB Michael Lindauer (2,738 yards, 30 TDs), WR Branson Combs (1,073 yards, 12 TDs) and RB Kenyon Ervin (1,589 yards, 18 TDs).
Class 5A: Kokomo (9-4) vs. Columbus East (13-1), 7 p.m.
Second-ranked East believes it has some unfinished business, after falling 16-13 to Westfield in last year’s 5A final. Their confidence should be sky-high after last week’s stunning 42-13 demolition of No. 5 Cathedral. The Olympians will face an unranked Kokomo squad making the school's first championship game appearance.
East has a running game with more than 5,000 yards for the season, led by RB Jamon Hogan (2,184 yards, 35 TDs) and QB Josh Major (2,520 total yards, 32 TDs). The Olympians have the state’s second-highest scoring offense (50.1) and fifth-highest margin of victory (35.9).
Kokomo is the first North Central Conference state finalist since Marion in 1990. QB Kyle Wade (1,583 passing yards, 518 rushing yards, 26 TDs), who will play baseball at Purdue, makes the Wildkats’ offense go.
Class 2A: Woodlan (12-2) vs. Southridge (12-2), 12 p.m.
Woodlan, which is back to state for the first time since a runner-up finish in 1981, knocked off top-ranked Eastbrook in last week’s semistate on a 28-yard field goal by Luke Crilly with 1.5 seconds left.
Southridge – like Woodlan, tied for fifth in the last poll – dominated No. 2 Scecina 24-7 in the semistate. They’re 10-0 against 2A teams.
Woodlan brings offensive balance with QB Justin Durkes (2,420 yards, 31 TDs) and RB Jack Rhoades (2,089 yards, 25 TDs). Southridge does most of its damage on the ground with RB Tucker Schank (1,251 yards, 26 TDs) and QB Jayce Harter (1,167 yards, 12 TDs).
Class 4A: Lowell (14-0) vs. East Central (11-3), 3:30 p.m.
No. 1 Lowell has the state’s third-ranked defense (6.36 points per game). The Red Devils have 11 games of yielding nine points or fewer, including five shutouts. No. 10 East Central is back for the second time in three years, following a 27-3 loss to Fort Wayne Dwenger in 2015.
RB Tyler Wildman leads the Lowell offense with 870 yards and 10 TDs. QB Ethan Igras has completed half of his throws for 1,272 yards and 13 scores.
East Central doesn’t throw it much, as RB Logan Storie (1,922 yards, 22 TDs) and QB Alex Maxwell (989 yards, 19 TDs) carry most of the load.
Class 6A: Penn (12-1) vs. Ben Davis (13-0), 7 p.m.
The best North-South rivalry in Indiana high school football history, they played 14 regular-season games from 1996-2010, and have met three times for a state title (’91, ’96, ’99), with the Giants holding a 2-1 edge. Together they have 13 state titles in 23 combined appearances.
No. 4 Penn has the state’s stingiest defense (5.31 points per game), as only three foes have reached double digits, none since Sept. 22. The Kingsmen took it to defending state champ Carmel last week, 34-7. They don’t have a 1,000-yard rusher, while QB Ryan Lynch has 1,260 yards and 16 TDs.
No. 1 Ben Davis is an offensive juggernaut, and will test Penn unlike any team on its schedule, with QB and obvious Mr. Football Reese Taylor (3,481 total yards, 49 TDs) and RB Johnny Adams (1,415 yards, 16 TDs) running through and around opponents all season.