Center Grove football repeats as state champion


The final act was far more dramatic than many had expected, but style points didn’t matter to the Center Grove football team. All the Trojans cared about was finishing the job that they’d come to Lucas Oil Stadium to do.

The job, of course, was winning a second straight Class 6A state championship — and Center Grove did so in dramatic fashion on Saturday night, holding on for a 27-21 victory over Westfield.

With the win — their 28th in a row — the Trojans became the first team to win back-to-back 6A titles.

“It didn’t go well — this was a hard win for us tonight,” Center Grove head coach Eric Moore said. “But champions die hard.”

Moore’s squad appeared to be on shaky ground when the second-ranked Shamrocks picked up a first down at the Trojans’ 11-yard line with the clock ticking down toward two minutes in the fourth quarter. But a defense that had been Center Grove’s anchor throughout this two-year run rose to the occasion at the most opportune of times, as Owen Bright intercepted a Maximus Webster pass at the 3 with 1:37 on the clock.

The Trojans actually trailed midway through the second quarter, 14-13, after Micah Hauser’s second touchdown run of the half. But they were able to reclaim the lead on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Tayven Jackson to Harrison Stomps with 3:21 remaining before the break, then got what wound up being some much-needed breathing room when they capped the first possession of the third period with a 5-yard scoring run by Micah Coyle.

Hauser scored again on a 1-yard run in the third to cut it to six, and the Shamrocks drove deep into Center Grove territory late, poised to spring the upset before Bright’s big play saved the day.

Jackson and Caden Curry both scored on short first-half touchdown runs for the Trojans, who had had a much easier time with Westfield in last year’s state final (a comfortable 38-14 triumph).

While this game might not have been quite as sexy, there were no complaints about the end result — Center Grove’s fourth state football crown.

”We had to play four quarters, and it’s what it should have been,” Moore said. “It’s a high school state championship; it should have been tough.

“The only one statistic that means anything tonight is winning. Just the W. I don’t care how many yards they got. People can argue about that all winter long, they can say this and that. We won.”

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