The majority of high school football programs in Indiana view Lucas Oil Stadium with a certain wide-eyed wonder.
To Center Grove, playing between the walls of the building dominating the south half of the Indianapolis skyline has become as much of a Thanksgiving tradition as the belt-loosening combination of turkey, stuffing and pumpkin pie.
Coach Eric Moore’s program made its fourth consecutive visit Friday night, leaving with its third Class 6A state championship trophy in as many years after defeating Fort Wayne Carroll, 35-9.
Five different players scored touchdowns for the Trojans, who complete a 12-2 season.
“These seniors took the greatest opportunity that was given to them, to get on the field and play this year, and ended up being state champions,” said Moore, referencing the fact that many of the starters from the undefeated 2020 and 2021 squads had graduated.
Overall, Center Grove has taken home five large Indiana-shaped trophies and been runner-up on three occasions since Moore took the job prior to the start of the 1999 season.
The Chargers, who were unbeaten and making their first appearance in a state championship contest, finish 13-1.
Moore’s record after 24 seasons is 236-74 (76.1%).
Center Grove’s offensive line thoroughly dominated against a Carroll defense that had shut out three opponents and posted eight triumphs in which they allowed 10 or fewer points.
Senior running back Micah Coyle rushed for 132 yards and a score, while Jalen Thomeson added 128 in his final game in a Trojans uniform. Center Grove finished with 439 yards of total offense, 302 coming on the ground.
“I mean, we just kept running the ball, just working our inside zone, outside zone,” senior left tackle Charlie Gardner said. “Our scout team does a great job giving us a good look throughout practice, and just keep on running that ball.
“We’re all about our team. We focus on our team and love each other.”
Junior defensive back Michael Soderdahl finished with 10 tackles as Center Grove limited the Chargers to 255 total yards.