INDIANAPOLIS — Twelve coaches from seven different counties represented their respective schools in the field-level conference room during Monday’s IHSAA football state finals press conference at Lucas Oil Stadium. Three of Indiana’s 92 counties were represented by more than one school.
Four of those coaches, Cardinal Ritter’s Ty Hunt, Cathedral’s Rick Streiff, Warren Central’s Jayson West and Brebeuf Jesuit’s Mic Roessler, hail from inside Marion County, which features a population of just under a million residents. Two others, Westfield’s Jake Gilbert and Carmel’s Kevin Wright, share Hamilton County: population 290,000.
Then, there were Tipton’s Aaron Tolle and Tri-Central’s George Gilbert. Two schools separated by 8 miles. Two schools that share Tipton County’s 16,000 residents, a county which ranks 80th in the state in total polulation.
State finals schools sharing home counties is not uncommon, but few would argue how remarkable it is for a county like Tipton, one of Indiana’s most sparsely populated counties with just two high schools.
The two schools, otherwise rivals, don’t play in the same class or the same sectional. They don’t play each other in football, leaving it safe to jump on one another’s bandwagon as both will represent their schools in the state finals this weekend.
“This is almost unheard of. It’s really unbelievable,” Gilbert said. “We have a really good relationship, I believe, with Tipton. When we played [a regular-season game] at Lucas [Oil Stadium] last year, we had a lot of Tipton people come down here and support us. I think it’s a wonderful bond. I don’t think you have to be so selfish or arrogant that you want to keep your program high and want everyone else’s down low. One thing we should want as coaches is for everyone to rise up.”