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Indiana Football Digest's Top Games - 2018 Semistate Finals

CLASS 6A

CARMEL (10-2) AT VALPARAISO (10-2)

KICKOFF: 8 p.m. EST, Friday, Viking Field.

COACHES: John Hebert, 38-14 in fourth season at Carmel. Bill Marshall, 10-3 in first season at Valparaiso.

REGIONAL RESULT: No. 3 Carmel over No. 11 Fort Wayne Snider, 20-6. No. 10 Valparaiso over Crown Point, 23-6.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Carmel, 21-20, on August 24, 2012.

LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: Carmel (2016), Valparaiso (2001).

TOP PERFORMERS: Jesse Harper ran 13 times for 83 yards and a touchdown for the Vikings against Crown Point. Dylan Downing raced 24 times for 159 yards for the Greyhounds against Fort Wayne Snider.

COACH TALK: “Valparaiso is a very solid football team on both sides of the ball. They are very well-coached and disciplined. They have been able to control football games completely with their ability to stop the run and rush the passer on defense. We’ll have to do a good job blocking their front seven to give our backs a chance at making plays on the ground. Our pass protection will also be a key to the game plan. Defensively, we will need to tackle well versus their two great running backs (Jackson Kurth and Jesse Harper) and attempt to force Valparaiso into predictable passing situations. We are so excited to play at their place, too. They have a great environment for hosting a game like this.” – Carmel’s John Hebert.

“Our program will continue to focus on us and what we can control. Last Friday we played a very sloppy game and we were able to come away with a victory. We will not be able to make the same mistakes against a team like Carmel. We will continue to emphasize our technique and eliminating self-inflicted mistakes. We will look for our lineman on both sides, offense and defense, to establish the line of scrimmage. We look forward to our great young men competing with high energy and at a high level as they have all year long.” – Valparaiso’s Bill Marshall.

CENTER GROVE (9-3) AT WARREN CENTRAL (12-0)

KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EST, Friday, Warriors Stadium.

COACHES: Eric Moore, 188-65 in 20th season at Center Grove, 236-70 in 24th season overall. Jayson West, 57-16 in sixth season at Warren Central, 109-28 in 11th season overall.

REGIONAL RESULT: No. 7 Center Grove over No. 8 Avon, 17-0. No. 1 Warren Central over No. 4 North Central (Indianapolis), 42-32.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Warren Central, 27-15, on August 17, 2018.

LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: Center Grove (2016), Warren Central (2013).

TOP PERFORMERS: Carson Steele scampered 37 times for 249 yards and a touchdown for the Trojans against Avon. Romier Elliott carried the ball 35 times for 242 yards and four scores for the Warriors against North Central (Indianapolis).

COACH TALK: “This will be an epic struggle. Dealing with the stress of winner go home, the weather, and playing on the road makes this the most difficult contest for the Trojans this season. We will have to control the line of scrimmage in order to stay in the ball game. Three plays and out on offense and letting Warren Central convert third downs on defense cannot happen if we want to win. We will have to limit their big play offense because if their skill guys get going and score on one-play drives, we will be in trouble. Our offense will need to control the clock to keep their great offense off the field and play almost mistake free. First downs will be as important as scores for our offense, but when the game has ended, the line of scrimmage will be the difference. Can we tackle and block their great athletes? Only time will tell.” – Center Grove’s Eric Moore.

“We have to be very good in each possession we get and try to get Center Grove off the field so they do not eat up all of the clock. We cannot turn the ball over or give up big plays like last week or we will be in trouble.” – Warren Central’s Jayson West.

CLASS 5A

MICHIGAN CITY (10-2) AT NEW PALESTINE (12-0)

KICKOFF: 4 p.m. EST, Saturday, Kelso Stadium.

COACHES: Phil Mason, 26-10 in third season at Michigan City, 139-71 in 18th season overall. Kyle Ralph, 72-4 in sixth season at New Palestine.

REGIONAL RESULT: No. 3 Michigan City over Concord, 62-21. No. 1 New Palestine over Harrison (West Lafayette), 31-7.

PREVIOUS MEETING: None.

LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: Michigan City (none), New Palestine (2015).

TOP PERFORMERS: Lyric McFarrin carried the ball 19 times for 221 yards and five touchdowns for the Wolves against Concord. Zach Neligh went 3-of-4 for 45 yards and ran 10 times for 96 yards for the Dragons against Harrison (West Lafayette).

COACH TALK: “We will have to slow down their potent running attack. They definitely have a two-headed monster between their running back (Charlie Spegal) and quarterback (Zach Neligh). Their offense line is big and physical and very well-coached. They play with tempo and wear you down. On defense, they are very aggressive and have great linebacker play. If we can keep our offense on track and get our guys in space, we have a great chance.” – Michigan City’s Phil Mason.

“Michigan City is a great football team with some exceptional players. This time of year, every team left is a great team, so as always, we have to find a way to play well as a team to help contain their athleticism. We have to limit our mistakes and play as solid all around as possible. It should be an incredible game Saturday afternoon.” – New Palestine’s Kyle Ralph.

DECATUR CENTRAL (11-1) AT COLUMBUS EAST (11-2)

KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EST, Friday, Stafford Field.

COACHES: Kyle Enright, 28-6 in third season at Decatur Central. Bob Gaddis, 197-36 in 18th season at Columbus East, 315-136 in 40th season overall.

REGIONAL RESULT: No. 2 Decatur Central over No. 13 Bloomington South, 28-0. No. 3 Columbus East over No. 12 Castle, 20-13.

PREVIOUS MEETING: None.

LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: Decatur Central (none), Columbus East (2017).

TOP PERFORMERS: Will Gibson recorded 10 rushes for 105 yards and two scores for the Hawks against Bloomington South. Cole Gilley was 17-of-25 for 245 yards with two touchdowns for the defending state champion Olympians against Castle.

COACH TALK: “We must be able to play mistake-free football on the road in our first-ever semistate game against the defending Class 5A state champs. It will be a great environment and a big opportunity for our program, so being able to drown out the hype and the noise in our first road playoff game this season. Being able to not commit penalties and not turning the ball over will be a huge key for us in the ball game. We must slow down their rushing attack by playing well on first down and forcing them into second and third and long situations. (Mark) McDonald and (Lance) Greiwe are a dynamic one-two punch out of the backfield and set the tone for East's offense. Slowing them down and forcing passing situations will be key for the Hawks. Conversely, the Hawk offense must be able to establish a ground attack and have success on first down. Cold, November games in Indiana are all about ball control and moving the chains by running the football. Winning the time of possession and being able to run the ball eve
n when they know we are running it will be a key to our success.” – Decatur Central’s Kyle Enright.

“Decatur Central is a very talented football team. We will need to limit their big plays offensively and find a way to consistently move the ball. Special teams and field position will be a huge factor. Handling the cold and wind could be a contributor as well.” – Columbus East’s Bob Gaddis.

CLASS 4A

FORT WAYNE BISHOP DWENGER (12-1) AT MISHAWAKA (12-1)

KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EST, Friday, Steele Stadium.

COACHES: Jason Garrett, 12-1 in first season at Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger. Keith Kinder, 12-1 in first season at Mishawaka.

REGIONAL RESULT: No. 6 Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger over No. 5 Angola, 40-7. No. 2 Mishawaka over No. 11 Lowell, 28-14.

PREVIOUS MEETING: None.

LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: Bishop Dwenger (2015), Mishawaka (2012).

TOP PERFORMERS: Patrick Finley hauled in three passes for 97 yards with two scores for the Saints against Angola. Along with going 1-of-3 for 34 yards and a touchdown, Sam Shively tallied 10 carries for 49 yards for the Cavemen against Lowell.

COACH TALK: “Mishawaka is an outstanding football team in all three facets. They can dominate the game, particularly in their run game which is extremely difficult to prepare for in only a week’s time. Limiting big plays by their offense and being able to get a few stops will be vital as well as execution and productivity from our offense and special teams. This will be the toughest challenge we have faced all season. Execution across the board, efficiency, field position, and taking care of the ball are all absolutely crucial for success.” – Bishop Dwenger’s Jason Garrett.

“Bishop Dwenger is a fantastic program with great tradition. We are excited for the opportunity to compete against them. They are a very well-coached, disciplined football team. We need to make sure that we take care of the football and have good success on first and second downs on both sides of the ball. They have some great weapons in the passing game, so we're going to have to make sure we tackle well and don't get the ball thrown over our head.” – Mishawaka’s Keith Kinder.

MARION (13-0) AT EVANSVILLE CENTRAL (12-1)

KICKOFF: 3 p.m. EST, Saturday, Bear Den.

COACHES: Craig Chambers, 25-9 in third season at Marion, 48-22 in sixth season overall. Troy Burgess, 12-1 in first season at Evansville Central, 107-75 in 17th season overall.

REGIONAL RESULT: No. 4 Marion over No. 6 Mooresville, 19-13. No. 8 Evansville Central over No. 3 East Central, 28-24.

PREVIOUS MEETING: None.

LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: Marion (1990), Evansville Central (none).

TOP PERFORMERS: Keshaun Taylor recorded 32 carries for 116 yards and three scores for the Giants against Mooresville. Brennan Schutte registered 19 rushes for 128 yards and a touchdown for the Bears against defending state champion East Central.

COACH TALK: “We need to continue minimizing mistakes, executing on offense, playing well in the kicking game, and playing well on defense.” – Marion’s Craig Chambers.

“For us to be successful this week, we have to do what we can to contain their quarterback (Keshaun Taylor). He is a very talented young man. Offensively, we need to control the ball and control the time of possession.” – Evansville Central’s Troy Burgess.

CLASS 3A

WEST LAFAYETTE (13-0) AT FORT WAYNE BISHOP LUERS (9-4)

KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EST, Friday, Luers Field.

COACHES: Shane Fry, 66-12 in sixth season at West Lafayette. Kyle Lindsay, 44-33 in sixth season at Bishop Luers.

REGIONAL RESULT: No. 2 West Lafayette over No. 6 Brebeuf Jesuit, 24-10. No. 10 Fort Wayne Bishop Luers over No. 14 Mishawaka Marian, 42-6.

PREVIOUS MEETING: West Lafayette, 27-7, on November 19, 1993 in Class 2A semistate.

LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: West Lafayette (2015), Bishop Luers (2012).

TOP PERFORMERS: Kyle Adams completed 17-of-26 for 152 yards and two touchdowns for the Red Devils against Brebeuf Jesuit. Jordan Presley ran 13 times for 75 yards with a score and caught four passes for 111 yards and three touchdowns against Mishawaka Marian.

COACH TALK: “In order for us to beat Bishop Luers, we must limit their big plays. They have outstanding skill players on offense as well as their kick and punt returners. They are capable of scoring every time they touch the ball. In order for us to do this, we need to be excellent on special teams and defense. On offense, we need to take care of the ball, keep moving the chains, and convert in the red zone.” – West Lafayette’s Shane Fry.

INDIANAPOLIS BISHOP CHATARD (11-2) AT EVANSVILLE MEMORIAL (13-0)

GAME TIME: 7:30 p.m. EST, Friday, Enlow Field.

COACHES: Rob Doyle, 18-8 in second season at Bishop Chatard. John Hurley, 86-53 in 11th season at Evansville Memorial.

REGIONAL RESULT: No. 5 Bishop Chatard over Tri-West, 56-14. No. 1 Evansville Memorial over No. 7 Brownstown Central, 56-14.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Evansville Memorial, 37-21, on November 21, 2009 in Class 3A semistate.

LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: Bishop Chatard (2015), Evansville Memorial (2017).

TOP PERFORMERS: Tony Harrison racked up seven rushes for 41 yards and two scores for the Trojans against Tri-West. Branson Combs caught eight passes for 130 yards with two touchdowns and also ran twice for 80 yards for the Tigers against Brownstown Central.

COACH TALK: “Their offense is as good as I have seen in Indiana the last few years. The number one thing that needs to be done to stop them is somehow slow down and contain their offense. Nobody has done a very good job with that so far, but we will be as ready as we can be. On offense, we will continue to do the things that we have been successful with again some of the top teams in the Midwest this year. We have been fortunate enough to be a very balanced football team throughout the year, so we will need to continue to run and pass the ball with equal execution.” – Bishop Chatard’s Rob Doyle.

“Bishop Chatard is one of the top programs in the history of Indiana high school football. Coach Doyle has continued the tradition because they play very hard and are physical on both sides of the ball. For us to win defensively, we’ll need to eliminate mistakes, stop the run, and make plays in space. Offensively, we’ll need to make big plays and protect the football.” – Evansville Memorial’s John Hurley.

CLASS 2A

BREMEN (11-2) AT EASTBROOK (12-1)

KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EST, Friday, Freck Field.

COACHES: Jordan Leeper, 23-12 in third season at Bremen. Jeff Adamson, 267-85 in 30th season at Eastbrook.

REGIONAL RESULT: No. 11 Bremen over No. 3 Whiting, 42-13. No. 5 Eastbrook over Lapel, 52-21.

PREVIOUS MEETING: None.

LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: Bremen (1995), Eastbrook (2016).

TOP PERFORMERS: Nathan Mullen exploded for 195 yards and a score on 37 rushes for the Lions against Whiting. Edward Keasling finished with seven rushes for 57 yards and three touchdowns for the Panthers against Lapel.

COACH TALK: “Offensively, Eastbrook runs the ball extremely well. Their line is physical and gets to the second level, so we must match their physical line play to create difficult running lanes for the backs. We must also play with discipline because they can hit you with passes over the top for big plays. But most importantly, we will need to tackle better than we have all year. Defensively, we will need to handle the pressure that they bring. They move guys around to get good pressure, so we must be able to recognize where pressure is coming from. They also do a great job of creating turnovers, so we must take care of the football to avoid giving them easy opportunities.” – Bremen’s Jordan Leeper. 

“Bremen is very balanced on offense and they play a tough, physical style of defense. I think we are going to have to take advantage of every possession we have on offense. Hopefully, we can have a couple of long, sustained drives to keep the ball away from them a little bit, too. Because of their offensive balance, they kind of force us to be a little cautious on defense. We will have to play assignment football and not take many chances.” – Eastbrook’s Jeff Adamson. 

SOUTHRIDGE (10-3) AT WESTERN BOONE (13-0)

KICKOFF: 2 p.m. EST, Saturday, Western Boone Field.

COACHES: Scott Buening, 58-18 in sixth season at Southridge, 70-46 in 10th season overall. Justin Pelley, 51-19 in sixth season at Western Boone.

REGIONAL RESULT: No. 10 Southridge over No. 7 Paoli, 42-35. No. 1 Western Boone over No. 2 Indianapolis Scecina, 19-7.

PREVIOUS MEETING: None.

LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: Southridge (2017), Western Boone (1998).

TOP PERFORMERS: Colson Montgomery was 7-of-10 for 133 yards with two touchdowns and rushed 14 times for 81 yards and a score for the defending state champion Raiders against Paoli. Devin Weakley recorded 18 tackles for the Stars against Indianapolis Scecina.

COACH TALK: “Western Boone has a tremendous football team. They have good size on both sides of the ball to go with a group of very confident and talented group of skill players. They have played a very tough schedule and have beaten everyone on that schedule, so they are battle tested and have proven to be very tournament ready. We will need to travel well and match their physical play to give ourselves an opportunity to win the game.” – Southridge’s Scott Buening.

“Southridge is the defending Class 2A state champion and that title will hold true until someone beats them. You don’t win a state championship without being well-coached and Coach Buening does a phenomenal job. In order to win this matchup, we will have to slow down their rushing attack on defense and limit the big play. On offense, we must control the football and score touchdowns in the red zone.” – Western Boone’s Justin Pelley.

CLASS 1A

ADAMS CENTRAL (13-0) AT PIONEER (13-0)

KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EST, Friday, Logansport’s Memorial Hospital Stadium.

COACHES: Michael Mosser, 80-39 in 10th season at Adams Central. Adam Berry, 42-1 in third season at Pioneer.

REGIONAL RESULT: No. 2 Adams Central over No. 11 Monroe Central, 38-12. No. 1 Pioneer over Triton, 66-0.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Pioneer, 22-8, on November 18, 2016 in Class 1A semistate.

LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: Adams Central (2000), Pioneer (2017).

TOP PERFORMERS: Jalen Hammond accounted for 19 rushes for 109 yards for the Flying Jets against Monroe Central. Danny Gregorich rambled 14 times for 109 yards and three touchdowns for the defending state champion Panthers against Triton.

COACH TALK: “We have to stop their skill guys, (quarterback) Jack Kiser in particular. If we can't stop him and their offense, we will have a hard time winning this game. Likewise, if we can't move the ball and control the clock and score we will lose. We must play our best game of the season. We cannot make mistakes and must be physical to counter their physical play. We can't back down.” – Adams Central’s Michael Mosser.

“Adams Central is a disciplined team on offense and defense and they also have a lot of experience. Our offensive line is going to have to have their best game to date and control the line of scrimmage. Each one of their skilled guys can be a threat on every play. We are going to have to understand where our fits are and force them to have third and long situations.” – Pioneer’s Adam Berry.

NORTH VERMILLION (12-1) AT INDIANAPOLIS LUTHERAN (10-3)

KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EST, Friday, Lutheran Field.

COACHES: Brian Crabtree, 76-12 in seventh season at North Vermillion, 111-51 in 14th season overall. Dave Pasch, 86-49 in 11th season at Indianapolis Lutheran, 151-106 in 22nd season overall.

REGIONAL RESULT: No. 7 North Vermillion over No. 5 North Central (Farmersburg), 34-14. No. 10 Indianapolis Lutheran over South Putnam, 36-20.

PREVIOUS MEETING: North Vermillion, 55-37, on November 13, 2015 in Class 1A regional.

LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: North Vermillion (2014), Indianapolis Lutheran (none).

TOP PERFORMERS: Josh Little finished with 15 tackles for the Falcons against North Central (Farmersburg). Marcus McFadden registered 19 carries for 206 yards with two scores and also had two catches for 49 yards for the Saints against South Putnam.

COACH TALK: “I believe with all big games, it requires tremendous composure and poise to play in such an emotionally charged atmosphere. The fundamentals that have been taught all year will be critical to execution. The difference may be which team mentally executes the game plan formulated by their coaching staff.” – Indianapolis Lutheran’s Dave Pasch.

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