The Indiana Football Digest's Top Games - 2017 Semistates

By Paul Condry and Matt Kopsea

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CLASS 6A

PENN (11-1) AT CARMEL (8-4)

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

COACHES: Cory Yeoman, 165-31 in 15th season at Penn. John Hebert, 28-11 in third season at Carmel.

LAST CONTEST: Penn beat Crown Point, 33-3. Carmel beat Fort Wayne Snider, 22-21.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Carmel, 21-10, on November 18, 2016 in Class 6A semistate.

DID YOU KNOW: Penn has won 11 semistate titles, but not since 2015, while Carmel is going for its second straight and 12th overall.

BY THE NUMBERS: Penn senior Zach Usenick has 31 receptions for 589 yards and eight scores. Carmel junior Camari Hunt has accumulated 1,062 yards and nine touchdowns.

COACH TALK: "We've got to find a way to get first downs and extend drives. We have to tackle well and limit their big plays on offense. We also had some issues last year on special teams and we have to shore up some of those things. They're going to make plays. We have to find a way to make a few more." – Penn's Cory Yeoman.

"For the fifth year in a row we are playing the Penn Kingsmen in the semistate. We know what to expect when you play a Penn team coached by Cory Yeoman. They are big, physical, disciplined, and fundamentally sound at every position.  In order for us to be successful, we will need to be able to control the football on the ground and move the chains with a controlled passing attack. Penn's free safety, Paul Moala, is maybe the most impactful defensive player we have faced. We have to account for him on every play, especially on special teams." – Carmel's John Hebert.

AVON (10-2) AT BEN DAVIS (12-0)

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

COACHES: Mark Bless, 66-28 in eighth season at Avon, 215-95 in 28th season overall. Mike Kirschner, 93-36 in 11th season at Ben Davis, 107-62 in 15th season overall.

LAST CONTEST: Avon beat Center Grove, 32-21. Ben Davis beat Fishers, 50-7.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Ben Davis, 52-20, on August 25, 2017.

DID YOU KNOW: Avon is looking for its first semistate crown, while Ben Davis is looking for its 11th and first since 2014.

BY THE NUMBERS: Avon junior Sampson James has run for 1,632 yards and 18 touchdowns. Ben Davis senior Reese Taylor has completed 188-of-258 passes for 2,683 yards and 35 touchdowns.

COACH TALK: "I think it starts with our mental approach to the work week. We've got to be confident in what we do and focus in on the minor details of the game and of our opponent. Offensively, we've got to take care of the ball and take advantage of what they give us and not force anything. Defensively, we have to tackle better than we did the first game. When you don't tackle very well, it allows for big plays.  We need to limit the big plays that Ben Davis has produced all year. A couple of takeaways would be great to help steal a possession or two." – Avon's Mark Bless.

"We will have to eliminate mental mistakes and penalties that continue to kill offensive drives. We also have to find a way to control the line of scrimmage on defense against Avon's very large and physical offensive line." – Ben Davis' Mike Kirschner.

CLASS 5A

MICHIGAN CITY (9-3) AT KOKOMO (8-4)

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

COACHES: Phil Mason, 16-7 in second season at Michigan City, 129-68 in 17th season overall. Brett Colby, 89-30 in 11th season at Kokomo, 204-97 in 28th season overall.

LAST CONTEST: Michigan City beat Concord, 21-7. Kokomo beat Zionsville, 33-21.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Michigan City, 8-7, on November 7, 1969.

DID YOU KNOW: Both teams have never won a semistate championship before. This is the first appearance for Michigan City, while Kokomo's last visit was in 2015.

BY THE NUMBERS: Michigan City senior Keyshawn McGill has 42 receptions for 926 yards and seven touchdowns. Kokomo senior Jack Perkins has carried the ball 92 times for 506 yards and six scores.

COACH TALK: "If possible, you have to be able to stop the big play from their offense, but then again, I'm not sure it is possible because they have lots of weapons. (Wide receiver Keyshawn) McGill is a very talented football player. They are big and aggressive up front on both sides of the ball, so we have to be able to hold our own against them in the trenches. We also have to try to contain (quarterback Michael) McCullough. We're not sure if it is possible either because he has the ability to beat you with his feet and speed. They are well-coached in all aspects, and we have much respect for Phil and his staff." – Kokomo's Brett Colby.

COLUMBUS EAST (12-1) AT INDIANAPOLIS CATHEDRAL (7-5)

KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EST, Friday, Indianapolis Tech's Howard Longshore Stadium.

COACHES: Bob Gaddis, 184-34 in 17th season at Columbus East, 302-134 in 39th season overall. Rick Streiff, 221-76 in 23rd season at Indianapolis Cathedral, 242-108 in 28th season overall.

LAST CONTEST: Columbus East beat Terre Haute North, 49-18. Indianapolis Cathedral beat Bloomington South, 35-21.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Indianapolis Cathedral, 49-14, on November 16, 2012 in Class 4A semistate.

DID YOU KNOW: Columbus East is in pursuit of its second consecutive semistate title and third overall, while Cathedral is going for its first since 2014 and 14th all-time.

BY THE NUMBERS: Columbus East senior Jamon Hogan has scampered for 2,024 yards and 33 touchdowns. Cathedral junior Bo Sanders has accumulated four interceptions.

COACH TALK: "Our team understands that they have never lost a (Class) 5A playoff game and we are going to their home field. We will need to battle every down like the down that will win the game. It is imperative that we get off to a great start and play 48 minutes with great effort." – Columbus East's Bob Gaddis.

"For us to have be successful, we need to control the line of scrimmage, control the ball, and minimize penalties and turnovers." – Cathedral's Rick Streiff.

CLASS 4A

LOWELL (13-0) AT FORT WAYNE BISHOP DWENGER (10-3)

KICKOFF: 8 p.m. EST, Friday, Homestead's Walters Field.

COACHES: Keith Kilmer, 64-29 in eighth season at Lowell. Chris Svarczkopf, 149-48 in 15th season at Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger.

LAST CONTEST: Lowell beat New Prairie, 25-20. Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger beat Angola, 34-0.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Lowell, 24-21, on November 21, 2009 in Class 4A semistate.

DID YOU KNOW: Lowell's has won three semistate crowns with its last title coming in 2009, while Bishop Dwenger has claimed nine championships, but none since 2015.

BY THE NUMBERS: Lowell junior Tyler Wildman has rushed for 822 yards and 10 scores. Bishop Dwenger sophomore Patrick O'Keefe has thrown for 1,014 yards and 11 touchdowns.

COACH TALK: "We're very excited to renew an old rivalry with a great program like Bishop Dwenger.  Both teams are very similar. We're both sound fundamentally, physical and disciplined. We are going to have to control everything we can and not worry about those things that we can't. Execution and taking advantage of our opportunities when they present themselves will be the difference in this game." – Lowell's Keith Kilmer.

"From what we have seen, heard, and read, Lowell is an excellent team. Our concern is how physical and fundamentally sound they are. Lowell will not ever beat themselves. They protect the football and do not make mistakes. They will play great defense and will run the ball right over you. All of their special teams are solid and dangerous. In addition to all that, they have a few skill players that can beat you on any given play. Justin Jusevitch is as fine a high school football player as I have ever seen. He is phenomenal on offense, defense, and special teams. With 50 starts and 400 tackles in a career, that would be awesome anywhere, but at Lowell it is even more impressive. If we kick the ball anywhere near him, it is by mistake. With all that being said, it is easy for us to see why they are undefeated and ranked No. 1. We will have to play our best game of the year to have a chance, but that is what you would expect in a semistate." – Bishop Dwenger's Chris Svarczkopf.

GREENWOOD (11-2) AT EAST CENTRAL (10-3)

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

COACHES: Mike Campbell, 69-66 in 12th season at Greenwood. Justin Roden, 45-20 in fifth season at East Central.

LAST CONTEST: Greenwood beat Mississinewa, 34-27. East Central beat Evansville Central, 35-13.

PREVIOUS MEETING: East Central, 41-26, on October 24, 2014 in Class 4A sectional opener.

DID YOU KNOW: Greenwood is making its third semistate appearance, but has yet to win one, while East Central is going for its first semistate crown since 2015 and fourth overall.

BY THE NUMBERS: Greenwood senior Conner Battinau has caught 39 passes for 535 yards and eight touchdowns. East Central senior Logan Storie has rambled for 1,758 yards and 19 scores.

COACH TALK: "The keys to a Woodmen victory are we need to be great tacklers, be solid in our alignment and run fits, protect the football, and execute our blocking schemes. East Central is an excellent football team and will be a great matchup for the Woodmen. We need to be solid in all three phases if we want to advance in the tournament." – Greenwood's Mike Campbell.

"We have to perform a lot like we played last week. We need to control the ball and the clock. That is how we try to play and that is how I coach. We are fully capable of throwing the ball and we will use that threat as needed Friday. We also need to win the turnover battle. Last week we created turnovers and valued the ball. No turnovers and field position always give a team a chance. I also think special teams will play a big part this Friday." – East Central's Justin Roden.

CLASS 3A

BREBEUF JESUIT (9-4) AT MISHAWAKA MARIAN (9-4)

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

COACHES: Mic Roessler, 36-23 in fifth season at Brebeuf Jesuit. Reggie Glon, 165-102 in 24th season at Mishawaka Marian.

LAST CONTEST: Brebeuf Jesuit beat West Lafayette, 13-10. Mishawaka Marian beat Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, 30-7.

PREVIOUS MEETING: None.

DID YOU KNOW: Brebeuf's lone semistate title came in 2013, while Marian has never won a semistate championship, despite capturing state championships in 1973, 1975, and 1976.

BY THE NUMBERS: Brebeuf senior Derrick Ozobu has tossed for 1,943 yards and 17 scores. Marian junior Zack Whitfield has recorded 108 tackles.

COACH TALK: "The key to our success has been our defense and special teams play. Both have enabled our offense to start with great field position, or they've broken the game open in order for the offense to relax and execute. I hope for another game where all three phases play intense, error-free, and committed to executing our game plan." – Brebeuf's Mic Roessler.

"We must come out and play our best football of the year. Our offensive line must control the line of scrimmage and our defense cannot give up big plays. Our kick game also must win the field position battle for us to win on Friday night." – Marian's Reggie Glon.

EVANSVILLE MEMORIAL (12-1) AT DANVILLE (13-0)

KICKOFF: 5 p.m. EST, Saturday, Warrior Stadium.

COACHES: John Hurley, 71-53 in 10th season at Evansville Memorial. K.C. Woods, 23-3 in second season at Danville, 31-7 in third season overall.

LAST CONTEST: Evansville Memorial beat Lawrenceburg, 56-35. Danville beat Indianapolis Bishop Chatard, 38-7.

PREVIOUS MEETING: None.

DID YOU KNOW: Evansville Memorial is going after its third semistate title, but first since 2009, while Danville's only championship came in 1999.

BY THE NUMBERS: Evansville Memorial senior Kenyon Ervin has accumulated 1,588 yards on the ground and 18 touchdowns. Danville senior Tanner Knotts has racked up 114 tackles.

COACH TALK: "We are excited to have the opportunity to play in the semistate at Danville. They have an outstanding football team in all three phases. Each week the same holds true for us. We must stop the run, protect the football, and make plays in space. We will have to play a complete game to have a chance at a semistate title." – Evansville Memorial's John Hurley. 

"We have to be able to get some pressure on their quarterback (Michael Lindauer) this week. Our defensive backs are going to have to stay very active in coverage for the duration of the play as their quarterback can create plays late in the play. Offensively, we have to find ways to maintain our run0pass balance that we've had so far in the playoffs." – Danville's K.C. Woods.

CLASS 2A

WOODLAN (11-2) AT EASTBROOK (13-0)

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

COACHES: Sherwood Haydock, 54-28 in seventh season at Woodlan, 187-147 in 30th season overall. Jeff Adamson, 255-83 in 29th season at Eastbrook.

LAST CONTEST: Woodlan beat North Newton, 40-28. Eastbrook beat Lapel, 56-26.

PREVIOUS MEETING: None.

DID YOU KNOW: Woodlan won its last and only semistate crown in 1981, while Eastbrook is going after back-to-back titles and third overall.

BY THE NUMBERS: Woodlan senior Justin Durkes has thrown for 2,339 yards and 30 scores. Eastbrook senior Andrew Barajas has run for 1,590 yards and 26 touchdowns.

COACH TALK: "Eastbrook is a very well-coached and fundamentally sound football team. They have talented and quick players. Their running game is outstanding. For us to have a chance to win, we must limit our mistakes and make big plays in our passing game. We must score 35 or more points to be victorious." – Woodlan's Sherwood Haycock.

"We will have to play great defense against a Woodlan team that is very balanced between the run and the pass. We will have to limit their ability to create big plays offensively. Our ball control style of offense may be our defense's best friend this week as we hope to limit the number of plays Woodlan can run by simply keeping it away from them." – Eastbrook's Jeff Adamson. 

SOUTHRIDGE (11-2) AT INDIANAPOLIS SCECINA (12-1)

KICKOFF: 2 p.m. EST, Saturday, Indianapolis Tech's Howard Longshore Stadium.

COACHES: Scott Buening, 46-15 in fifth season at Southridge, 58-43 in ninth season overall. Ott Hurrle, 181-128 in 26th season at Indianapolis Scecina, 182-137 in 28th season overall.

LAST CONTEST: Southridge beat Providence, 47-7. Indianapolis Scecina beat Western Boone, 48-33.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Southridge, 28-17, on November 23, 2002 in Class 2A semistate.

DID YOU KNOW: Southridge is looking for its fourth semistate championship and first since 2002, while Scecina has won four times, but not since 2012.

BY THE NUMBERS: Southridge senior Grant Maxey has hauled in 29 passes for 645 yards and six touchdowns. Scecina junior Mac Ayers has thrown for 2,444 yards and 27 touchdowns.

COACH TALK: "Scecina is a program with a lot of tradition and this year's teams has very good players who are able to do a multitude of things both offensively and defensively. They are balanced in their schemes both offensively and defensively and are able to do a lot of different things out of their different formations and fronts. It will be important that we are able to protect the football, find a way to finish drives on offense, and limit their big play ability on offense." – Southridge's Scott Buening. 

"We have to figure out a way to slow down their offense which is as good as any we have seen this year." – Scecina's Ott Hurrle.

CLASS 1A

MONROE CENTRAL (12-1) AT PIONEER (13-0)

KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EST, Friday, The Pit.

COACHES: John Hochstetler, 46-23 in sixth season at Monroe Central, 133-106 in 21st season overall. Adam Berry, 27-1 in second season at Pioneer.

LAST CONTEST: Monroe Central beat Southwood, 28-21. Pioneer beat LaVille, 38-0.

PREVIOUS MEETING: None.

DID YOU KNOW: Monroe Central is making its first semistate appearance, while Pioneer id going for two in a row and fourth overall.

BY THE NUMBERS: Monroe Central senior Casey Conatser has passed for 2,511 yards and 31 scores. Pioneer freshman Ezra Lewellen has carried the football 70 times for 916 yards and 15 touchdowns.

COACH TALK: "It is no secret that Pioneer is a Class 1A power, especially in the north. This Pioneer team represents that tradition. Our Monroe group wants to establish our own identity. A game like this gives us that opportunity. We are aware of the challenge at hand. (Quarterback Jack) Kiser is special in so many ways; however, he is not alone." – Monroe Central's John Hochstetler.

"Monroe Central is in the semistate for a reason. They are an excellent team that has size, speed, and athletic ability. We are going to have to recognize their different formations early and execute our game plan.  Offensively, our line is going to have to stay low and control the line of scrimmage, and our backs will need their best game blocking to date." – Pioneer's Adam Berry.

EASTERN GREENE (10-3) AT INDIANAPOLIS LUTHERAN (11-2)

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

COACHES: Joey Paridaen, 33-14 in fourth season at Eastern Greene, 35-32 in sixth season overall. Dave Pasch, 76-45 in 10th season at Indianapolis Lutheran, 141-102 in 21st season overall.

LAST CONTEST: Eastern Greene beat Fountain Central, 42-19. Indianapolis Lutheran beat Indianapolis Arlington, 50-15.

PREVIOUS MEETING: None.

DID YOU KNOW: Both squads have never celebrated a semistate championship before. Eastern Greene is playing in its first semistate contest, while Lutheran is making its second consecutive trip and third overall.

BY THE NUMBERS: Eastern Greene junior Zach Terry has accumulated 106 tackles. Lutheran senior Andre Jones has accumulated almost 2,000 yards rushing.

COACH TALK: "Our team understands that we are facing a tough opponent Friday night. Lutheran plays a tough schedule every year and is no stranger to deep post-season runs. This will be our first time playing in a game of this magnitude, but I like the way our team has handled itself all season long. We cannot afford a slow start this week and must play a complete game in every facet for all four quarters. This game will have two very similar and talented offenses battling each other. Defensively, we must try to limit the big play and put Lutheran in uncomfortable situations. Offensively, we must continue to execute and limit mistakes. Both teams have big lines on both sides of the ball, so it will be a battle of attrition. The hope is that we have the ball with a chance to win the game at the end." – Eastern Greene's Joey Paridaen.

"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." – Lutheran's Dave Pasch.

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