IHSAA football finals: Center Grove repeats vs. Westfield in 6A; Mt. Vernon wins big in 4A

·11 min read

Six champions were crowned this weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium as the Indiana high school football tournament finally reached its end.

See how it all went down.

SATURDAY

CLASS 6A: Center Grove 27, Westfield 21

Three takeaways from No. 1 Center Grove’s 27-21 win over No. 2 Westfield in the Class 6A state championship game on Saturday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Play of the game

Owen Bright may have a statue outside of Center Grove’s stadium before next season. The sophomore’s game-sealing interception with 1:37 left preserved the game for the Trojans and put a cap on Center Grove’s back-to-back championships and 28-0 record over the past two seasons. Westfield had marched 66 yards on 14 plays to put itself in position to take the lead at the Center Grove 11-yard-line. On third down, Bright stepped in front of Maximus Webster’s pass to put the game away.

Center Grove High School players and head coach Eric Moore celebrate with the trophy after an IHSAA class 6A State Championship football game, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium. Center Grove won 27-21.
Center Grove High School players and head coach Eric Moore celebrate with the trophy after an IHSAA class 6A State Championship football game, Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium. Center Grove won 27-21.

Turning point

Westfield was teetering on the brink of losing ground, trailing 27-14 and forced to punt with less than 5 minutes remaining in the third quarter. Center Grove, which drove the field on its previous possession for a touchdown, muffed the punt to turn the ball back over to Westfield, which needed just three plays to score and cut the lead to 27-21 on a 1-yard run by Micah Hauser with 48 seconds left in the third quarter.

Standout performer

There were so many great performances by both teams, on both sides of the ball. Center Grove senior quarterback Tayven Jackson was a steady hand, completing 12-for-14 for 152 yards and a touchdown. Webster was just as good, completing 19-for-33 for 226 yards. It was an instant classic fit for the stage. -- Kyle Neddenriep

CLASS 4A: Mt. Vernon 45, Northridge 14

Mt. Vernon left little room for drama in its first-ever Class 4A championship game appearance, racing past Northridge, 45-14, Saturday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Here's what you need to know from the game.

Mt. Vernon Marauders Keagan Labelle (32) yells in excitement after a touchdown during the IHSAA Class 4A State Finals on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Mt. Vernon Marauders lead at the half against the Northridge Raiders, 26-7.
Mt. Vernon Marauders Keagan Labelle (32) yells in excitement after a touchdown during the IHSAA Class 4A State Finals on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Mt. Vernon Marauders lead at the half against the Northridge Raiders, 26-7.

Turning point

Northridge showed some fight late in the final minutes of the second quarter, converting a Gehrig Slunaker interception — the Marauders' third turnover of the half — into a seven-play, 61-yard touchdown drive that left the margin at 20-7 following a 23-yard touchdown pass from Tagg Gott to Jethro Hochstetler.

The Raiders' rally was quickly sussed out.

Slunaker covered 39 yards and advanced the ball to the 19 with a trio of completions, then Keagan LaBelle took care of the rest with two runs, the second of which went for five yards and his second touchdown of the game.

A tidy six-play, 58-yard scoring drive to ensure momentum would remain with the Marauders. It was the first of four touchdowns over Mt. Vernon's next five drives.

Play of the game

Ashden Gentry turned a simple shovel pass into a 43-yard completion late in the first quarter. The senior receiver outran a diving Raider, then juked around another defender (teammate Cole Herman delivered the block) as he dashed down the sideline.

It was a nifty play that set up Mt. Vernon's second touchdown of the game.

Player of the game

Gentry. The dude was everywhere in his final high school game, logging five receptions (four targets) for 130 yards and a touchdown. Four of those catches covered at least 20 yards, including a 22-yard touchdown midway through the third quarter. -- Brian Haenchen

CLASS 2A: Andrean 21, Evansville Mater Dei 9

The Class 3A state championship game between Andrean and Mater Dei was a tale of two halves. While both teams struggled to do anything offensively in the first half, Drayk Bown, the top-ranked junior in the state took over in the second half to give Andrean a 21-9 win and its first state title since 2013.

Andrean Fighting 59ers hold up the trophy to celebrate winning the IHSAA Class 2A State Finals on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.The Andrean Fighting 59ers defeated the Evansville Mater Dei Wildcats, 21-9.
Andrean Fighting 59ers hold up the trophy to celebrate winning the IHSAA Class 2A State Finals on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.The Andrean Fighting 59ers defeated the Evansville Mater Dei Wildcats, 21-9.

Drayk Bowen shows he can do it all

The Notre Dame commit and top-ranked junior in Indiana made his presence felt in a big way. His rushing ability made the difference for the 59ers. His 29-yard touchdown run in the third quarter gave Andrean its first points of the game.

After Mater Dei took a 9-7 lead with a field goal, Bowen had a pair of 12-yard runs followed by a 2-yard touchdown run that gave the 59ers the lead again. He dragged several players into the end zone on a 2-point conversion that gave Andrean a 15-9 lead with 9:52 to play in the game.

On the ensuing drive, it was Bowen’s strip sack that set up his own 3-yard touchdown run — his third of the day — to put the game away.

He finished with 24 carries for a career-high 171 yards and on defense, racked up six tackles, including 2.5 for a loss.

Defense dominates early

Neither team managed to get into the red zone until less than four minutes remained in the third quarter. The teams combined for just 130 yards in the first half, as Andrean turned the ball over twice and Mater Dei turned it over once. Mater Dei came in allowing 14.4 points per game, while Andrean came in allowing 13.8 per game.

Andrean came into Lucas Oil averaging 30 points per game, while Mater Dei averaged 28. The nine points scored by the Wildcats were a season-low.

While both teams struggled to get traction offensively in the first half, the second half was a different story. Andrean totaled 191yards in the second half, while Mater Dei had 203.

Wunderlich shows flashes of potential for Mater Dei, and brings key pieces back next season

Mason Wunderlich, a junior, showed that Mater Dei’s future remains bright. He completed 19 of 37 passes for 201 yards on the day, finding Eli McDurmon five times for 88 yards and Ethan Stolz six times for 79 yards. While McDurmon is a senior, Stolz will return next year for his senior season. Wunderlich and Stolz will be joined, among others, by running back Joey Pierre. Pierre had two carries for 10 yards. -- Matthew VanTryon

FRIDAY

CLASS 5A: Cathedral 34, Zionsville 14

Three takeaways from top-ranked Cathedral’s 34-14 win over Zionsville for the Class 5A state championship on Friday night at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Cathedral players pose after winning a state final game Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Cathedral Fighting Irish defeated the Zionsville Eagles 34-14.
Cathedral players pose after winning a state final game Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium. The Cathedral Fighting Irish defeated the Zionsville Eagles 34-14.

Play of the game

Zionsville had pulled within 24-14 after cashing in on a Cathedral turnover on a 30-yard pass from Christian Abney to Trey Firestone with 8:51 left in the game. But on the next possession, Cathedral quarterback Danny O’Neil hit Jaron Tibbs between two defenders for a 32-yard gain to the Zionsville 10. O’Neil’s 10-yard touchdown pass to Tibbs two plays later gave the Irish a 31-14 lead with 6:24 left and essentially iced the game.

Turning point

Zionsville chose to punt on 4th-and-2 from midfield, trailing 17-7 midway through the third quarter and lean on its defense. But on the second play of the Cathedral drive, Danny O’Neil hit Jaron Tibbs for a 73-yard pass. Two plays later, O’Neil’s shovel pass to Michael Page put Cathedral ahead 24-7 with 5:13 left in the third quarter.

Standout performer

Tibbs. The junior receiver could not be stopped. The 6-4, 185-pound Tibbs, who has a Ball State offer, caught 10 passes for 210 yards and two touchdowns. O’Neil was not bad himself. The sophomore was 25-for-35 for 355 yards and three touchdowns. -- Kyle Neddenriep

CLASS A: Lutheran 34, Adams Central 28

Three takeaways from No. 1 Lutheran’s 34-28 victory over third-ranked Adams Central on Saturday afternoon for the Class A state championship at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Indianapolis Lutheran Saints Montasi Clay (2) rushes the ball during the IHSAA Class A State Finals on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
Indianapolis Lutheran Saints Montasi Clay (2) rushes the ball during the IHSAA Class A State Finals on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

Play of the game

On a day with plenty of touchdowns and points, the play of the game might have been a 7-yard gain. On the first drive of the second half, Lutheran was faced with a 4th-and-4 at the Adams Central 37. Quarterback Montasi Clay rolled to his left, seemingly with nothing there. Clay bounced to the outside, then slipped back inside and dove the first down. On the next play, Clay threw a 30-yard touchdown pass to Jake Pasch, who battled Adams Central defensive back Alex Currie and pulled it down in the end zone to make it a 21-21 game.

Turning point

Lutheran trailed 21-7 and turned it over on downs to Adams Central with 3:14 left in the first half. The Flying Jets had scored on their previous drive and to that point, had rolled up 174 rushing yards. But on the first play of the drive, Jake Pasch forced a fumble and it was recovered by Will Hall at the Adams Central 27. Pasch scored on a 6-yard touchdown run six plays later to cut Adams Central’s lead to 21-14 with 30 seconds left in the first half.

Standout performer

Clay hit a huge third-and-17 pass to Brandon Brooks for a 50-yard gain to the Adams Central 13. His 12-yard touchdown run with 1:13 left to put Lutheran ahead to stay, 34-28, was a thing of beauty. Clay said he did not feel like he played all that well. But he passed for 239 yards and three touchdowns and rushed 35 yards and another score. -- Kyle Neddenriep

CLASS 3A: Gibson Southern 45, Brebeuf Jesuit 35

Brebeuf Jesuit and Gibson Southern treated fans to a shootout in the Class 3A state championship game. While it was Brebeuf that threatened to run away with the game early, Purdue commit Brady Allen engineered a comeback for the Titans that led to a 45-35 win and Gibson Southern’s first state title in program history.

Gibson Southern Titan players celebrate during the IHSAA Class 3A State Finals on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.  Gibson Southern Titans defeated Brebeuf Jesuit for the IHSAA Class 3A State championship, 45-35.
Gibson Southern Titan players celebrate during the IHSAA Class 3A State Finals on Friday, Nov. 26, 2021, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Gibson Southern Titans defeated Brebeuf Jesuit for the IHSAA Class 3A State championship, 45-35.

Here were three keys to the game.

Brady Allen lives up to the hype

Allen was sharp from the Titans’ first drive of the game, when he completed six of seven passes and found Rory Heltsley for a touchdown. But through the first 21 minutes of the game, those were the only points Gibson Southern could manage. Facing a 19-point deficit in the second quarter, Allen found his stride. Then, it was off to the races.

After Adrean Lukeman got the offense going with a rushing touchdown to trim the Titans’ deficit to 26-14, Allen found Rory Heltsley for a score with 1:08 to go in the second. After a second Titans interception in as many drives, Allen engineered another scoring drive to end the first half, capped by a 10-yard touchdown pass to Heltsley. That trimmed Brebeuf’s lead to just one going into the half.

The Titans received the ball to start the third quarter and kept the momentum going. Allen found Kaden Hurless on a 21-yard touchdown pass, then found Brayden Malone on the ensuing Titans drive for his fifth touchdown pass of the game. By then, Gibson Southern led 42-29 and had scored 35 straight points.

He finished the game with 398 passing yards and five touchdowns.

Brebeuf couldn’t have asked for a better start

When Nolan Buckman found Max Walters for a 32-yard touchdown on Brebeuf’s opening drive, it signaled good things to come. And for much of the first half, it looked like it was finally Brebeuf’s time to win a title after a pair of finals appearances in 2013 and 2017.

Gibson Southern answered Brebeuf’s opening score, but Brebeuf scored the next 19 points. Buckman found Walters again, this time from 64 yards out. Joe Strickland sacked Allen for a safety. Ryan Kersteff kicked a field goal, and Buckman found Walters for the third time in the half. Buckman finished with 319 yards and four touchdown passes.

With 9:13 to play in the first half, Brebeuf had a 26-9 lead. With 4:57 to go in the second quarter, it was a 15-point lead.

But then, Brady Allen took over.

Brebeuf seniors leave their mark

Brebeuf’s seniors are a big reason they made it to Lucas Oil Stadium for a state finals appearance, and they each had big moments Friday night. Strickland had two sacks, including a safety. Walters had 13 catches for 210 yards and three scores. Robert Tuttle had a touchdown grab. Anthony Annee had three catches for 39 yards, five tackles and an interception. Jeremiah Jackson had nine tackles, and Jayden Childers had four tackles, including a sack and a forced fumble. -- Matthew VanTryon

This article originally appeared on The Reporter Times: Indiana high school football finals roundup: Scores, highlights, stats

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