Indiana Football Digest Top Games - 2019 Semi Finals

The Indiana Football Digest Top Games is a weekly preview of the top contests around Indiana high school football.

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KICKOFF: 7:30 .p.m. EST, Greyhound Stadium.

COACHES: Brad Seiss, 31-25 in fifth season at Merrillville, 44-42 in eighth season overall. John Hebert, 48-18 in fifth season at Carmel.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Carmel, 42-0, on November 20, 2009 in Class 5A semistate.

LAST CONTEST: Merrillville beat Warsaw, 42-28. Carmel beat Homestead, 31-7.

UP NEXT: Winner takes on Ben Davis (8-4) or Center Grove (7-5) for state championship.

TOP PERFORMERS: Aahric Whitehead was 9-of-14 for 125 yards for the No. 4 Pirates against Warsaw. Dylan Downing ran nine times for 112 yards for the No. 5 Greyhounds against No. 2 Homestead.

CHALK TALK: "Carmel is a very good football team. They are big and physical up front on both sides of the ball and that continues at the second level with their running backs and linebackers too. They are very well-coached and sound in all three phases of the game and don't make too many mistakes by way of turnovers and penalties. We have to match their physicality up front, limit mistakes, and take advantage of big plays when we get our opportunities. They've been on this stage before and we need to make sure our kids play within themselves and our scheme. It's a great opportunity for us as a football program." – Merrillville's Brad Seiss.

"Merrillville is a great football team that is very well-coached. Their physicality, athleticism, and resilience stand out on film. A one-point loss to Valparaiso stands as their only blemish on the season. We will have to contain their explosive offensive playmaking, by first attempting to limit their ground game. Our special teams, especially coverage the units, must be strong for us because field position will be key. Offensively, we need to value possession of the football and try to establish control of the game on the line of scrimmage. Not very many teams have been able to do that against the Pirates." – Carmel's John Hebert.


KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EST, Ray Skillman Stadium

COACHES: Jason Simmons, 11-11 in second season at Ben Davis, 37-30 in sixth season overall. Eric Moore, 195-71 in 21st season at Center Grove, 243-76 in 25th season overall.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Center Grove, 48-20, on September 13, 2019.

LAST CONTEST: Ben Davis beat Zionsville, 28-7. Center Grove beat Warren Central, 28-14.

UP NEXT: Winner meets Merrillville (11-1) or Carmel (9-3) for state championship.

TOP PERFORMERS: Alljawon Hassel scampered 21 times for 144 yards with four touchdowns for the No. 10 Giants against Zionsville. Tayven Jackson went 6-of-8 for 93 yards and two scores for the Trojans against No. 7 Warren Central.

CHALK TALK: "We need to be able to win the line of scrimmage if we are going to have success Friday. We need to find a way to run the ball and stop the run. We have to minimize our mistakes and the big play capability of Center Grove. We need to execute with a high level of discipline in all three phases of the game." – Ben Davis' Jason Simmons.

"The Center Grove-Ben Davis semistate game will be the sixth time in 20 years the two schools have met at this level with the winner going on to win the state championship. Center Grove will have to try and find a way to slow down the Ben Davis quarterback (Trent Gipson) and the offense in general. We must not give up the big plays that allow them to score in one play. Our offense will have to continue to run the ball and convert on third downs. There will be no room for turnovers in this contest. Every possession will be crucial. We will have to play the game of our lives to continue down the road to a championship." – Center Grove's Eric Moore.



KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EST, Viking Field.

COACHES: Jason Garrett, 25-2 in second season at Bishop Dwenger. Bill Marshall, 22-4 in second season at Valparaiso.


LAST CONTEST: Bishop Dwenger beat Harrison (West Lafayette), 35-21. Valparaiso beat Mishawaka, 49-0.

UP NEXT: Winner meets Bloomington South (8-4) or New Palestine (12-0) for state championship.

TOP PERFORMERS: Brenden Lytle was 11-of-16 for 169 yards and two scores for the No. 4 Saints against No, 7 Harrison (West Lafayette). Tommy Burbee tallied 13 carries for 225 yards and three scores for the No. 2 Vikings against Mishawaka.

CHALK TALK: "Valparaiso poses a tremendous challenge for us, as alongside outstanding coaching, they possess great size, speed, and athleticism. They are sound in all three facets of the game and are playing with confidence. In order to be successful, we will need to execute at a very high level. That is ensuring that we are sound in all three facets of the game ourselves, playing physical and fast football with great emotion, while minimizing penalties and turnovers." – Bishop Dwenger's Jason Garrett.

"In order for us to have success this week against Bishop Dwenger, we will need to win the battle at the line of scrimmage. Offensively, we have to be able to stay on our blocks against big defensive linemen and very mobile linebackers. We will also be able to progress through our reads while passing and not force anything. Defensively, we also need to win the line of scrimmage and contain the quarterback (Brenden Lytle). They play good old fashioned power offense, so we will need to fill gaps and flow to the football. On special teams, we cannot have any let ups. We need to consistently kick or punt the ball where it needs to go to keep it away from their skill players. Ball security will also be extremely important." – Valparaiso's Bill Marshall.


KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EST, Kelso Stadium.

COACHES: Mo Moriarity, 201-59 in 22nd season at Bloomington South, 305-100 in 34th season overall. Kyle Ralph, 86-4 in seventh season at New Palestine.


LAST CONTEST: Bloomington South beat Floyd Central, 40-14. New Palestine beat Indianapolis Cathedral, 35-10.

UP NEXT: Winner takes on Valparaiso (12-0) or Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger (11-1) for state championship.

TOP PERFORMERS: Maveric Thiery rambled 20 times for 168 yards and three touchdowns for the Panthers against Floyd Central. Charlie Spegal ran 30 times for 285 yards and four scores for the top-ranked Dragons against No. 3 Indianapolis Cathedral.

CHALK TALK: "We can't turn the ball over. However, we have to force turnovers and limit big plays by (Charlie) Spegal." – Bloomington South's Mo Moriarity.

"It is incredible to be at this stage of the tourney again this season and with this comes the incredible competition you'd expect being in the final four. Coach Mo has done an exceptional job at Bloomington South and has had them playing very good football. His teams are always well-coached, physical, and disciplined. We need to be able to match that quality and continue to protect the football. There isn't room for error in playoff football, especially at this level against an opponent of this great quality." – New Palestine's Kyle Ralph.


HOBART (11-2) AT EAST NOBLE (13-0)

KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EST, East Noble Field.

COACHES: Craig Osika, 18-5 in second season at Hobart. Luke Amstutz, 69-20 in eighth season at East Noble, 95-35 in 12th season overall.


LAST CONTEST: Hobart beat New Prairie, 36-7. East Noble beat Mississinewa, 30-14.

UP NEXT: Winner meets Mount Vernon (Fortville) (11-2) or Evansville Memorial (11-1) for state championship.

TOP PEFORMERS: D.J. Lipke raced 17 times for 200 yards for the Brickies against No. 4 New Prairie. Bailey Parker completed 25-of-35 for 241 yards with two touchdowns and rushed 18 times for 137 yards and another score for the No. 2 Knights against No. 5 Mississinewa.

CHALK TALK: "East Noble has a very dynamic quarterback (Bailey Parker) that is a threat running and passing. We will have to be able to pressure him in the pass game and make sure that we have someone to account for him in the run game. Defensively, they are very disciplined and assignment sound, so you can tell that they are very well-coached. They have a lot of talent and are 13-0, so we know that we are going to have to play our best game to date in order for a chance to play for a state championship." – Hobart's Craig Osika.

"We are excited for an awesome opportunity against a great program. If we can move the ball against their excellent defense, and protect against turnovers and mental mistakes, we will have an opportunity to win the game." – East Noble's Luke Amstutz.


KICKOFF: 8 p.m. EST, Enlow Field.

COACHES: Mike Kirschner, 18-6 in second season at Mount Vernon, 127-68 in 17th season overall. John Hurley, 98-55 in 12th season at Memorial.


LAST CONTEST: Mount Vernon beat Indianapolis Roncalli, 25-17. Memorial beat Mooresville, 17-14.

UP NEXT: Winner takes on Hobart (11-2) or East Noble (13-0) for state championship.

TOP PERFORMERS: Gehrig Slunaker went 6-of-13 for 137 yards and a touchdown for the Marauders against Indianapolis Roncalli. Colton Pence was 11-of-18 for 108 yards and a score for the No. 3 Tigers against No. 8 Mooresville.

CHALK TALK: "We will have to find a way to control their defensive line because they are quick and explosive and wreck havoc on everyone they play. Their offense is very efficient in spreading the ball around between the passing attack and a physical running game. We need to win the battle up front and find a way to slow them down on offense." Mount Vernon's Mike Kirschner.

"Mount Vernon is a well-coached football team which is playing at a very high level with a lot of energy. Coach Kirschner and his staff do a great job preparing for big games. They have instilled their culture at Mount Vernon and it will be a great environment Friday night at Enlow Field. We will need to stop the run, protect the football, eliminate penalties, and make big plays on both sides of the ball." – Evansville Memorial's John Hurley.



KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EST, Otolski Field.

COACHES: Rob Doyle, 30-10 in third season at Bishop Chatard. Mike Davidson, 20-6 in second season at Marian.


LAST CONTEST: Bishop Chatard beat Fort Wayne Concordia, 56-28. Marian beat Knox, 17-0.

UP NEXT: Winners meets Danville (8-5) or Heritage Hills (13-0) for state championship.

TOP PERFORMERS: Daylen Taylor romped 15 times for 227 yards and five touchdowns for the No. 1 Trojans against Fort Wayne Concordia. Michael Murphy ran 23 times for 108 yards for the No. 4 Knights against Knox.

CHALK TALK: "Marian is an outstanding team with a superior defense. They also do a good job of controlling the clock and with an excellent kicker (Hunter Renner), they can also flip field position pretty fast. We will need to shut down their run game and establish our run game to set up the rest of our offense. As with any big game, turnovers must be avoided. Last year in the semistate, (against Evansville Memorial) ,we turned it over seven times, so it's tough to beat anybody when you do that." – Bishop Chatard's Rob Doyle.

"It's going to take a strong game in all three phases to get a win against Chatard. They're very physical up front on both sides of the ball and have excellent offensive skilled positions, and their defense flies to the football. We need to control the football, move the chains, and eliminate turnovers on the offensive side of the ball. I'd like to see us put up a score or two early. Defensively, our front seven has to get off blocks and work to get the ball out of No. 2's (Daylen Taylor) hands. If we can eliminate the big play and force a couple of turnovers (which they don't do), we'll be in a good situation." – Marian's Mike Davidson.


KICKOFF: 8 .p.m. EST, Danville.

COACHES: Todd Wilkerson, 62-26 in eighth season at Heritage Hills. K.C. Woods, 37-14 in fourth season at Danville. 45-18 in fifth season overall.


LAST CONTEST: Heritage Hills beat Lawrenceburg, 22-0. Danville beat Vincennes Lincoln, 35-14.

UP NEXT: Winner takes on Indianapolis Bishop Chatard (12-1) or Mishawaka Marian (12-1) for state championship.

TOP PERFORMERS: Jacob Wetzel ran 20 times for 134 yards for the No. 2 Patriots against No. 9 Lawrenceburg. Chandler Schubert exploded for 23 carries for 162 yards and two scores for the Warriors against Vincennes Lincoln.

CHALK TALK: "We need to play exceptional defense. It is important for us to limit Danville's running game and then be sound in pass defense and not give up big plays. Offensively, we need to be physical with our run game and move the chains. We always try to create momentum with our special teams' play. We are excited about the opportunity to play in a semistate game." - Heritage Hills' Todd Wilkerson.

"We are going to have to be ready to have 11 guys on defense ready to come downhill and make tackles. We have to be disciplined to our assignments across the board defensively. Offensively, we have to continue to get production in both phases (run and pass). We need to try and create a few creases for (No. 6 running back) Chandler Schubert and have to do a good job protecting the passer. We'll have to run great routes, throw and catch well, and rack up some yards after catch. We absolutely cannot turn the ball over." - Danville's K.C. Woods.



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

COACHES: Chris Skinner, 33-15 in fourth season at Andrean. Jeff Adamson, 279-88 in 31st season at Eastbrook.


LAST CONTEST: Andrean beat Lewis Cass, 36-14. Eastbrook beat Eastside, 42-9.

UP NEXT: Winner meets Western Boone (12-1) or Triton Central (10-3) for state championship.

TOP PERFORMERS: Ryan Walsh scooted 29 times for 251 yards and three touchdowns for the 59ers against top-ranked Lewis Cass. Zeke Binkard rumbled 14 times for 183 yards and two scores for the No. 8 Panthers against Eastside.

C HALK TALK: "Eastbrook has had an impressive run of playoff success these last few years. Their senior class in particular is very decorated with their regular season and postseason successes. I have a lot of respect for what Coach Adamson has been able to do in his 30+ years of leading that program. Their players will not be shy of the big stage Friday as they've experienced it often these past few seasons. Offensively, they have a variety of individuals that can make plays. We'll need to play responsibility football if we hope to contain their attack. On offense, we'll need to be multi-dimensional. The weather and field conditions haven't been ideal for our spread offense these last few weeks, but we've been able to run the ball effectively. We'll need to spread the ball around Friday if we want to have success." – Andrean's Chris Skinner.

"Andrean has some huge offensive linemen and (Ryan) Walsh will be one of the best backs we have seen all year. It will take everything we have to slow down their running game. Defensively, they are sound at every position and tackle extremely well. They will be the best team we have seen all year, which is  just as you would expect at this point in the tournament." – Eastbrook's Jeff Adamson.


KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EST, Mendenhall Stadium.

COACHES: Justin Pelley, 65-20 in seventh season at Western Boone. Tim Able, 62-24 in seventh season at Triton Central, 187-122 in 27th season overall.


LAST CONTEST: Western Boone beat Heritage Christian, 35-14. Triton Central beat Evansville Mater Dei, 13-7.

UP NEXT: Winner takes on Andrean (10-3) or Eastbrook (11-2) for state championship.

TOP PERFORMERS: Robby Taylor had 25 carries for 171 yards with a score for the No. 2 Stars against No. 7 Heritage Christian. Justin Thacker tallied 19 rushes for 56 yards with a touchdown for the Tigers against No. 4 Evansville Mater Dei.

CHALK TALK: "Triton Central was very impressive in their regional win over Evansville Mater Dei. They played with emotion, energy and made plays when they needed to. The atmosphere was exactly what a high school game should be and it will be a tough place to play. Coach Able has been successful at every stop he has made and his success is by no accident. His teams are always prepared and play hard. What impressed me most about Triton Central was their ability to control the football and keep the opposing offense off of the field. They run multiple formations and want to play smash mouth football. In order to win the game, we must force a few three-and-outs and not allow them to possess the ball for long 10-plus play drives. On the other hand,, when we are on offense, we must put drives together and keep our defense off of the field. I envision two very similar game plans and whatever team is able to control the football and force a few three –and-out's will, in my opinion, have a great opportunity to win the game. Special teams, penalties, and turnovers will also play a big part in the outcome of this magnitude and that is how it should be." – Western Boone's Justin Pelley.

"We must control their running game so that we know when passes are coming. We must win the time of possession by controlling the ball ourselves. We must win the kicking game. We must win the turnover battle. We must keep them from getting chunk plays of 20 yards or more." – Triton Central's Tim Able.



KICKOFF: 8 p.m. EST, LaRocca Field.

COACHES: Michael Mosser, 92-41 in 11th season at Adams Central. Brian Nay, 15-10 in second season at Central Catholic.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Central Catholic, 35-0, on November 19, 1999 in Class 1A semistate.

LAST CONTEST: Adams Central beat South Adams, 19-7. Central Catholic beat North Judson, 43-17.

UP NEXT: Winner meets West Washington (12-1) or Indianapolis Lutheran (12-0) for state championship.

TOP PERFORMERS: Blake Heyerly accumulated 33 carries for 151 yards and three touchdowns for the No. 4 Flying Jets against No. 2 South Adams. Clark Barrett finished 25-of-31 for 351 yards and four touchdowns for the No. 8 Knights against North Judson.

CHALK TALK: "Well, they are really good. I am impressed with their talent and ability. They play really well together from what I can tell. If we are going to win we must play as hard and as together as we did last Friday against South Adams. We must stop their run and pass, which is no easy task. We must also be able to move the ball, drain the clock, and score points, which again is no easy task because their defense is solid. They are big and strong up front and quick and aggressive in the secondary. Beating them will be our biggest challenge yet." – Adams Central's Michael Mosser.

"We must play better on special teams' and use them to create explosive plays and dominate field position. Defensively, we must force Adams Central to drive the football on a long field. We have to disrupt the five things they do best and put them in third down-and-six plus distance and force them to convert. Offensively, we need to continue to be efficient and spread the ball around to our playmakers. We have to make them defend the width of the field. If we are fortunate enough to get to the red zone, we need to finish in the end zone." – Lafayette Central Catholic's Brian Nay.


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

COACHES: Phillip Bowsman, 95-51 in 13th season at West Washington. Dave Pasch, 98-50 in 12th season at Lutheran, 163-107 in 23rd season overall.

PREVIOUS MEETING: West Washington, 42-12, on October 19, 2012 in Class 1A sectional quarterfinal.

LAST CONTEST: West Washington beat North Decatur, 24-16. Lutheran beat North Vermillion, 56-21.

UP NEXT: Winner takes on Adams Central (12-1) or Lafayette Central Catholic (10-3) for state championship.

TOP PERFORMERS: Holden Bowsman was 17-of-21 for 270 yards with a touchdown and also ran for two scores for the No. 9 Senators against No. 7 North Decatur. Marcus McFadden recorded 12 carries for 171 yards with three scores and returned an interception 40 yards for another touchdown for the No. 1 Saints against No. 5 North Vermillion.

CHALK TALK: "We are very fortunate to be playing for a semistate title and looking forward to the opportunity. Coach Pasch and I are good friends and very familiar with each other's program. They are a great program with great athletes and very well-coached. At this point, every team is very talented and we have to play our best ball in all three phases to advance to the state finals. It will be important for us to be physical on defense and execute on offense." – West Washington's Phil Bowsman.

"The key for us this week is to continue to have great focus on us and to improve in practice. I believe the keys will be our execution, our ability to play without mistakes, penalties, and to be fundamental football players." – Indianapolis Lutheran's Dave Pasch.

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