WESTFIELD (11-1) AT CROWN POINT (12-0)
KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EST, Dog Pound.
COACHES: Jake Gilbert, 103-53 in 13th season at Westfield, 133-89 in 19th season overall. Craig Buzea, 27-6 in third season at Crown Point, 240-93 in 31st season overall.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Westfield beat Hamilton Southeastern, 24-21. Crown Point beat Penn, 34-33.
LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: No. 5 Westfield finished as state runner-up in 2021. No. 4 Crown Point is looking for its first trip to Lucas Oil Stadium.
PREVIOUS MEETING: First matchup on the gridiron.
TOP PERFORMERS: Jackson Gilbert was 13-of-19 for 107 yards for the Shamrocks against No. 6 Hamilton Southeastern. Jacob Jones caught three passes for 112 yards with a touchdown for the Bulldogs against No. 8 Penn.
COACHES’ CORNER: “Crown Point is pretty physical up front on both sides, so we need to win the line of scrimmage. Their quarterback (Nolan Ehrlich) makes a lot of plays with his arm and his feet, so I think we have to contain him. Penn was able to throw the ball for nearly 400 yards last week, so our passing game needs to get going again this week.” – Westfield’s Jake Gilbert.
“We are in unchartered waters and are looking forward to see how we stack up to one of the premier football programs in the state in Westfield. They have all the makings of a state championship team with a high-powered offense. Their talent is off the charts with an aggressive defense, unbelievable special teams, and superior coaching. For us to compete, we will have to possess the ball while trying to create some turnovers. This will be the best team that has ever played at Crown Point and for us to stay with them, we have to be at our very best and hope to be in the game with a chance to win in the end like last week.” – Crown Point’s Craig Buzea.
CENTER GROVE (11-1) AT BEN DAVIS (11-1)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EST, Giant Stadium.
COACHES: Eric Moore, 247-75 in 25th season at Center Grove, 295-80 in 29th season overall. Russ Mann, 11-1 in first season at Ben Davis.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Center Grove beat Warren Central, 14-0. Ben Davis beat Indianapolis Cathedral, 27-24.
LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: No. 2 Center Grove is the three-time defending state champions. No. 3 Ben Davis claimed the 2017 state title.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Center Grove, 35-34, on September 9, 2022
TOP PERFORMERS: Noah Coy hauled in seven receptions for 89 yards with two scores for the Trojans against Warren Central. Ben Rudolph drilled a pair of field goals, including the game-winning 40-yarder, for the Giants against No. 7 Cathedral.
COACHES’ CORNER: “This is the third matchup in a row for these two teams in the state playoffs. Center Grove has won the last eight times against Ben Davis, so I’m they will have plenty of energy and desire to beat the Trojans. The state has waited for this matchup all year. We usually play in the MIC (Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference) schedule in week five, but since our exit, we now will only see them in the playoffs if we’re lucky. This game features the state’s two best offenses and two really great and improving defenses. For us to come out on top, we must stop the Ben Davis offense from scoring in one or two plays. We have to make them earn the score with a 10-play drive. We must eliminate turnovers and force them into making at least two turnovers. We must keep Ben Davis from flipping the field on special teams and our offense cannot afford to have three-and-out series. We need to control the clock because they run 65 to 75 plays a game. For Center Grove to have a chance, we must hold them to under 65 offensive snaps. First downs for Center Grove will be huge, almost as important as turnovers. Move the chains is the theme this week. Tackle, tackle, tackle, tackle, and block, block, block. We must be more physical than Ben Davis. Yards after contact will also be huge for both teams. Both of these teams have played an excellent schedule, as this has been the game of the year for the last few years. We are just hoping that the player losses we have endured will not be the downfall to such a tough schedule. All the teams out of state we have beat: Harvest Prep, Moeller, Trinity, Oakland from Tennessee, are all still in the state playoffs in their respective states. Center Grove is still the back-to- back-to-back Class 6A state champions, and as they say, champions die hard.” – Center Grove’s Eric Moore.
“We must have attention to detail on every play. From the moment one play ends, the attention to detail is huge. Formations, alignments, reads, routes, eyes, reads, and role. In order to beat Center Grove, you have to be locked in on those specific details every single play.” – Ben Davis’s Russ Mann.
MERRILLVILLE (10-2) AT FORT WAYNE SNIDER (11-1)
KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EST, Spuller Stadium.
COACHES: Brad Seiss, 72-34 in ninth season at Merrillville, 85-51 in 12th season overall. Kurt Tippmann, 148-37 in 15th season at Fort Wayne Snider.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Merrillville beat Valparaiso, 24-20. Fort Wayne Snider beat Mishawaka, 19-18.
LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: No. 6 Merrillville was the 1976 Class 3A state champs. No. 2 Fort Wayne Snider captured the 2015 state championship.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Fort Wayne Snider, 42-39, on November 16, 2012 in Class 5A semistate.
TOP PERFORMERS: Trey Stephens scampered 10 times for 66 yards for the Pirates against No. 4 and defending state champion Valparaiso. Mang Tung drilled a 45-yard field goal as time expired for the Panthers against No. 9 Mishawaka.
COACHES’ CORNER: “We’re excited for the opportunity to play Fort Wayne Snider with a birth to the Class 5A state championship game on the line. Fort Wayne Snider is an excellent football program with outstanding players and coaches. We know that we’ll have to play a complete football game to beat them. With us having to come back to beat defending Class 5A state champion Valparaiso, we’ve been battle tested. Managing nerves and playing within ourselves are a major challenge for the kids when you get to this point of the tournament. However, we’re looking forward to it.” – Merrillville’s Brad Seiss.
“Merrillville is a very talented and productive football team. Their defense is leading the way and their offense seems to have improved tremendously over the past four weeks and playing extremely well at this point in the season. Offensively, we will have to find a way to block their guys. They have a very good defensive line and cause lots of issues in both the run game and pass protection. No. 14 (Trey Stephens) is a game wrecker. He is all over the field and seems to always be at the ball. Defensively, we have to stop the run game and control the quarterback runs. We have to eliminate explosive plays and make them drive the field. They have ball toucher guys that can score any time they touch it, so we need to be very good in coverage and gap responsibilities. Special teams will be a big part of the game since both teams have good kickers. Field position and how it changes when each team punts will also be a big factor. It should be fun.” – Fort Wayne Snider’s Kurt Tippmann.
BLOOMINGTON SOUTH (11-1) AT DECATUR CENTRAL (10-2)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EST, Devere Stadium.
COACHES: Gabe Johnson, 32-10 in fourth season at Bloomington South, 46-20 in sixth season overall. Kyle Enright, 69-24 in eighth season at Decatur Central.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Bloomington South beat Evansville North, 42-21. Decatur Central beat Whiteland, 41-7.
LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: No. 3 Bloomington South was crowned state champions in 1998. No. 7 Decatur Central finished as state runner-up in 2018.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Decatur Central, 28-0, on November 9, 2018 in Class 5A regional.
TOP PERFORMERS: Lucas Waldon managed eight catches for 168 yards with two touchdowns for the Panthers against Evansville North. N’Po Dodo rambled 17 times for 159 yards with a score for the Hawks against defending state runner-up Whiteland.
COACHES’ CORNER: “Decatur Central is a very good football team. We have a tremendous challenge getting on their run game and figuring out a way to run the ball against them.” – Bloomington South’s Gabe Johnson.
“Bloomington South is a very well-coached and disciplined football team. Gabe Johnson is a great coach who gets the most out of his team year in and year out. They have an explosive offense lead by their quarterback Jarinn Alley, a plethora of dynamic skill guys, and a very good offensive line. They have multiple playmakers, including No. 1 (D’Andre) Black, No. 3 (Lucas) Waldon, No. 85 (Tysen) Smith, and No, 35 (Gavin) Adams. They are very stout on the defensive side of the ball yielding an impressive 13 points a game and will be a challenge for us. Defensively, they are led by their linebackers (Ralph) Rogers, (Ben) Ridener, (Ben) Godar, and (Duke) Conrad, and have a good secondary as well lead by (Miles) McKay. The defensive line gets after it and plays really hard and they are well-coached. They have a great kicker (Bryce Taylor) as well and special teams will play a major factor in the game. In order for us to be successful, we have to be able to protect the football on offense. Turnovers are the great equalizer and in November in Indiana when there is frost on the pumpkin, ball security becomes paramount. We have to create turnovers on defense because turnovers can swing the momentum and change the game. We must rip the ball out and try to steal a possession by creating a turnover. Special people play on special teams, so we must make our special teams a weapon by scoring or setting up a score and winning the field position battle.” – Decatur Central’s Kyle Enright.
NORTHWOOD (11-2) AT LEO (11-2)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EST, Lions Field.
COACHES: Nate Andrews, 84-31 in 10th season at NorthWood, 124-70 in 17th season overall. Jason Doerffler, 19-6 in second season at Leo, 42-64 in 10th season overall.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: NorthWood beat New Prairie, 38-14. Leo beat Mississinewa, 41-7.
LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: NorthWood was state runner-up in 2016. No. 10 Leo is seeking its first trip to the state title game.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Leo, 14-12, on October 30, 2020 in Class 4A sectional semifinal.
TOP PERFORMERS: Seth Russell had five receptions for 60 yards with a touchdown for the Panthers against defending state runner-up New Prairie. Dearious Carter romped 11 times for 86 yards with a score and also returned a kickoff 94 yards for a touchdown for the Lions against No. 5 Mississinewa.
COACHES’ CORNER: “Defensively, we must defend their run game and at the same time limit their big play ability. Offensively, we must establish a run game and take good care of the football. In the kicking game, we must be sound and opportunistic. Overall, we must play loose, execute, and handle adversity.” – NorthWood’s Nate Andrews.
“NorthWood is a very dangerous team with some special athletes. Not only are they talented, but they play with toughness and aggressiveness on both sides of the ball. Their kicking game is very strong. We will have to match their physicality at the line of scrimmage and play as the aggressors in this game. We must continue to take good care of the football on offense, and we must limit their big plays on defense by rallying to the football and gang tackling. It will be a tremendous challenge for our team, but one we are looking forward to.” – Leo’s Jason Doerffler.
NEW PALESTINE (11-2) AT EAST CENTRAL (13-0)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EST, Trojan Field.
COACHES: Kyle Ralph, 127-13 in 11th season at New Palestine. Jake Meiners, 55-9 in fifth season at East Central.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: New Palestine beat Mooresville, 39-6. East Central beat Evansville Memorial, 47-7.
LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: No. 3 New Palestine earned the 2019 Class 5A state title. No. 1 East Central is looking for its second straight championship.
PREVIOUS MEETING: First time playing football.
TOP PERFORMERS: Gavin Neal completed 7-of-12 for 99 yards and ran eight times for 28 yards for the Dragons against Mooresville. Dylan Maxwell accounted for eight carries for 117 yards for the Trojans against Evansville Memorial.
COACHES’ CORNER: “We have to play our best football of the season to be able to compete with East Central. They have set the standard in Class 4A for the last two years. It is an unreal challenge for a young team like ours, especially on the road. Making the final four in a loaded Class 4A bracket is a huge accomplishment for us. I think these last few years is as good as Class 4A has been in a long time. Our program and players have a massive challenge in front of us, so it’s going to be exciting to see our kids compete on this stage.” – New Palestine’s Kyle Ralph.
“This should be a great high school football game, so there are a few keys to the game for us on Friday night. First, we have to keep our emotions in check. This is a big-time football game, and our players must understand that the most fundamentally sound football team will win the game on Friday. Secondly, we have to win the line of scrimmage. New Pal has some really good players on the line on both sides of the ball, and we must be able to compete. Whoever controls the trenches will be able to control the game. Lastly, there are things we talk about every week. Defensively, we need to be great tacklers and create turnovers. Offensively, we have to take care of the football and score points. If we can do these things, we will give ourselves an opportunity to win.” – East Central’s Jake Meiners.
KNOX (13-0) AT INDIANAPOLIS BISHOP CHATARD (13-0)
KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EST, Chatard Stadium.
COACHES: Russ Radtke, 33-16 in fourth season at Knox, 404-153 in 47th season overall. Rob Doyle, 76-20 in seventh season at Bishop Chatard.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Knox beat West Lafayette, 41-23. Bishop Chatard beat Delta, 35-6.
LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: No. 9 Knox is going for its first semistate title. Top-ranked Bishop Chatard is trying to make it two championships in a row,
PREVIOUS MEETING: First get together in football.
TOP PERFORMERS: Myles McLaughlin raced 50 times for 357 yards with five touchdowns and also had an interception for the Redskins against West Lafayette. Daniel Shaw recorded 15 carries for 180 yards with two touchdowns and caught three passes for 45 yards for the Trojans against Delta.
COACHES’ CORNER: “Knox is a tough grind it out football team. They hold the ball with a strong run game and their defense is aggressive in flying to the ball. We must stop the run game or it will be a long night for us. We also must stay balanced to keep their offense off the field. Our special teams will be critical in the field position game.” – Bishop Chatard’s Rob Doyle.
GIBSON SOUTHERN (11-2) AT HERITAGE HILLS (12-1)
KICKOFF: 8 p.m. EST, The Jungle.
COACHES: Nick Hart, 126-23 in 12th season at Gibson Southern. Todd Wilkerson, 95-42 in 12th season at Heritage Hills.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Gibson Southern beat Tri-West, 38-21. Heritage Hills beat Batesville, 24-21.
LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: No. 6 Gibson Southern was the 2021 state champions. No. 7 Heritage Hills earned a state runner-up finish in 2019.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Gibson Southern, 31-28, on September 22, 2023.
TOP PERFORMERS: Sean DeLong accounted for 110 yards rushing and added a four-yard touchdown reception for the Titans against No. 8 Tri-West. Jeff Goldsberry registered 19 carries for 157 yards with two touchdowns and was 4-of-10 for 84 yards and another score for the Patriots against Batesville.
COACHES’ CORNER: “Heritage Hills is a great program and a great football team. Our first game with them was a three-point game. I think they are very good defensively and they are exceptional at causing turnovers. We have to take care of the football on Friday night. Offensively, they are capable of hitting a home run on every single play. We gave up far too many big plays against them in the last matchup, so we have to do a better job of not giving up the home runs. When you have two evenly matched teams, it is going to come down to who can execute better in all three phases of the game.” – Gibson Southern’s Nick Hart.
“First of all, congratulations to Coach Hart, his staff, the Gibson Southern football team, and community for winning a regional championship. We are extremely excited to be hosting the Class 3A south semistate at the Jungle on Friday night against an outstanding Gibson Southern team. To be successful this Friday, we will need to quickly adjust to the Titans’ up-tempo offensive scheme and tackle well in space. Offensively, we need to continue to be explosive and minimize empty possessions. Fans better show up early if they want a seat this week, we expect the Jungle to be packed and the atmosphere to be epic.” – Heritage Hills’ Todd Wilkerson.
LAFAYETTE CENTRAL CATHOLIC (10-3) AT FORT WAYNE BISHOP LUERS (10-3)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EST, Luers Field.
COACHES: Brian Nay, 49-26 in sixth season at Lafayette Central Catholic. Kyle Lindsay, 83-60 in 11th season at Fort Wayne Bishop Luers.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Lafayette Central Catholic beat LaVille, 22-0. Fort Wayne Bishop Luers beat Bluffton, 15-7.
LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: No. 10 Lafayette Central Catholic rallied to win the 2019 Class 1A state title. No. 7 Fort Wayne Bishop Luers came away as state runner-up in 2020.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Never played on the football field.
TOP PERFORMERS: Bobby Metzger was 13-of-21 for 180 yards with two touchdowns and ran five times for 18 yards for the Knights against No. 5 LaVille. Kohen McKenzie went 10-of-16 for 92 yards with a score for the Knights against No. 8 Bluffton.
COACHES’ CORNER: “This looks to be a very even matchup on paper. Luers is unquestionably a very talented team. We will need to play our best game of the season in order to put ourselves in position to win in the end. Discipline and toughness will have a lot to do with the outcome in this one. The team that eliminates mistakes and executes the cleanest will punch their ticket to Lucas Oil Stadium and play Thanksgiving football.” – Lafayette Central Catholic’s Brian Nay.
“To win this Friday, we need to put together a complete game in all three phases: defense, offense, and special teams. Defensively, we need to play disciplined football against an offense that forces you to defend the entire field, from sideline to sideline, between the tackles, and downfield. We need to continue our physical brand of football, and elevate it a notch or two. Offensively, we need to capitalize on scoring opportunities, particularly in the red zone. We can’t afford to commit big penalties or put the ball on the ground as we’ve done periodically in this post-season. Special teams need to cover well, and we need to convert our kicks (we missed out on five points last week with poor field goal and point after touchdown play). Field position at this stage of the season can play such a huge role in determining the outcome of the game and we need to be sharp in all of our special teams’ units.” – Fort Wayne Bishop Luers’ Kyle Lindsay.
SOUTHMONT (8-5) AT NORTH POSEY (12-1)
KICKOFF: 5 p.m. EST, Saturday, Viking Field.
COACHES: Desson Hannum, 83-100 in 17th season at Southmont. Waylon Schenk, 52-25 in seventh season at North Posey, 80-49 in 12th season overall.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Southmont beat Eastern Hancock, 41-34. North Posey beat Triton Central, 28-13.
LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: Southmont had never won a sectional or regional title until 2023. No. 4 North Posey was state runner-up in 2005.
PREVIOUS MEETING: First matchup on gridiron.
TOP PERFORMERS: Wyatt Woodall carried the ball 35 times for 244 yards with four scores for the Mounties against Eastern Hancock. Colton Gardner racked up 16 rushes for 107 yards with a touchdown for the Vikings against top-ranked Triton Central.
COACHES’ CORNER: “We need to take care of the football and play good defense. I’m a big believer in that if you can take care of the football and play good defense that you give yourself an opportunity to win the game. We are led on offense by Wyatt Woodall and Nolan Boyer. Wyatt leads us in rushing with 1,358 yards and 24 touchdowns. Nolan is second on the team in rushing with 719 yards and six touchdowns. Along with his rushing numbers, Nolan leads is in passing with 1, 477 yards and 14 touchdowns. We also depend heavily on our offensive line lead by our three seniors, Waylon Gomez, Kasey Line, and Will Cody. Defensively, we are once again led by Wyatt Woodall, who leads us with 185 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and two interceptions. Also, contributing on defense is Dyaln Howell with 124 total tackles, 14 tackles for loss, and five sacks. Kyler McCandless is another standout for us on both sides of the ball and special teams. Kyler leads us in receiving with 691 yards and six touchdowns. He also has a couple of rushing touchdowns, a pick six and a punt return for touchdowns.” Southmont’s Desson Hannum.
“For North Posey to win on Saturday, we are going to have to try to slow down Southmont’s No.9 Wyatt Woodall. He is a big physical back that is deceptively fast. We cannot forget about their quarterback (Nolan Boyer) because he has great open field speed and does a great job of reading defenses. Offensively, we are going to have to control the line of scrimmage and make the big plays down field when given the opportunity.” – North Posey’s Waylon Schenk.
NORTH JUDSON (9-4) AT ADAMS CENTRAL (13-0)
KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EST, Minnich Field.
COACHES: Brett Lambert, 46-18 in fifth season at North Judson. Michael Mosser, 140-48 in 15th season at Adams Central.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: North Judson beat Park Tudor, 44-26. Adams Central beat Carroll (Flora), 29-0.
LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: North Judson finished as state runner-up in 1986. No. 2 Adams Central has been state runner-up the past two seasons.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Adams Central, 35-0, on November 18, 2022 in Class 1A semistate.
TOP PERFORMERS: Kole Wilcox grinded out 152 yards and two scores on 13 carries for the Bluejays against No. 5 Park Tudor. Jack Hamilton went 5-of-8 for 128 yards with a score and also intercepted a pass for the Flying Jets against No. 3 Carroll (Flora).
COACHES’ CORNER: “If we’re going to be victorious against Adams Central, we’re going to have to play as close to a perfect game as possible. We can’t turn the ball over. We’re going to have to sustain some drives on offense, play disciplined defense, and be great on special teams. Most importantly, the Bluejays need to believe that they can do it. After losing to them the past two seasons, we need to have the belief that this year is different.” – North Judson’s Brett Lambert.
“We are very familiar with North Judson and they are with us. This is the third consecutive time we have faced off against each other in the semistate. We have so much respect for them and their program. They are physical and tough and are very well-coached. We must be more physical than them. We will have to stop their run game because their quarterback fullback, and wings are very good and very efficient. We also must be efficient on offense.” – Adams Central’s Michael Mosser.
INDIANAPOLIS LUTHERAN (11-0) AT SHERIDAN (10-3)
KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EST, Wright Stadium.
COACHES: Dave Pasch, 149-53 in 16th season at Indianapolis Lutheran, 214-110 in 27th season overall. Larry Wright, 456-209 in 58th season at Sheridan, 457-212 in 59th season overall.
HOW THEY GOT HERE: Indianapolis Lutheran beat Providence, 14-7. Sheridan beat North Decatur, 24-20.
LAST TRIP TO INDIANAPOLIS: No. 1 Indianapolis Lutheran is going for its third consecutive state championship. Sheridan earned a state runner-up finish in 2008.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Indianapolis Lutheran, 55-12, on October 30, 2020, in Class 1A sectional semifinal.
TOP PERFORMERS: Jackson Willis completed 8-of-13 for 75 yards with a touchdown and carried the ball seven times for 31 yards for the Saints against No. 4 Providence. Chance Spencer returned an interception 27 yards for a score for the Blackhawks against North Decatur.
COACHES’ CORNER: “Sheridan is well-coached and very disciplined with a load of talented players. We have to match them with an ability to avoid mistakes and have great mental preparedness. Sheridan has tremendous team speed. They are physical, very fundamental, and they present a fast physical defense that attacks. We will have to execute the game plan to have success in all three phases of the football game.” – Indianapolis Lutheran’s Dave Pasch.
“We need to play mistake-free football. They are a very large team, so we must be able to block them someway and get a few breaks to come our way. We must be able to control their speed. If we can do the above things, we must be able to score as well.” – Sheridan’s Larry “Bud” Wright.