Tri-Central’s football team has reached heights this season never previously enjoyed in the program’s history.
The Trojans enter the final week in the regular season with an 8-0 record, the deepest point they’ve ever reached while remaining undefeated.
With the unblemished record has come state-wide recognition as well. TC sits at No. 10 in the Associated Press Class A poll for the second week in a row.
The row gets a bit tougher to hoe this week however when the Trojans head to Indianpolis Saturday to face perennial power Sheridan at Lucas Oil with the Hoosier Heartland Conference title on the line. A win Saturday would give TC its first conference crown since 1993.
“It’s neat how a team can come together,” TC coach George Gilbert said. His team enters Saturday 3-0 in HHC play. “The night we played Carroll [in Week 3], we were down two touchdowns at halftime, and I think we developed an identity with the way were able to come back and get the victory [44-35]. From that point on, I think our kids have been pretty focused and together. They believe in themselves, and that they can do some pretty neat things.”
The Trojans’ previous opponents enter Week 9 with a combined record of 14-48. Sheridan, on the other hand, enters Saturday with a 4-4 record (3-0 HHC) with losses coming from 3A No. 7 Western Boone (7-1), 3A No. 4 Hamilton Heights (7-1), 2A No. 4 Tipton (7-1) and Culver Academy (6-2). The Blackhawks are 3-0 against Class A opponents.
“The conference championship is big,” Gilbert said. “Sheridan is the best team we’ve seen on our schedule this year. Even though we’re 8-0, I think we’re coming in as underdogs to be quite honest. You look at who they play, and they’ve beaten every 1A team on their schedule. The teams they’ve lost to are great teams, so I think this will give us a good measuring stick on where we’re at and where we’re going.”
In its 8-0 start, the Trojans have been fueled by a potent ground-based offense that has churned out almost 50 points per game, scoring no fewer than 43.
TC has produced 3,126 rushing yards this season, led by the program’s first 1,000-yard rushers in seniors Austin Horn (126 carries, 1,102 yards, 13 touchdowns) and Martavius Hunt (89 carries, 1,090 yards, 17 TDs).
The defense has been just as solid, giving up a shade under 11 points per game. Gilbert knows his defense is in for its biggest test of the season to date with Sheridan’s potent option ground attack.
“Sheridan’s perimeter athletes are really solid,” Gilbert said. “The test is going to be up front, and it always is. How are we going to measure up with them? We’re going to be smaller than they are. But, I think we’re going to be fast. And, I’m hoping our speed can neutralize the size and power of Sheridan up front. If we can’t, they’ll get us. If we can neutralize them up front, I think it’s going to be an interesting game.”
Anderson (3-5, 3-3 NCC) at Kokomo (6-2, 5-1 NCC)
Kokomo’s five-year reign atop the North Central Conference likely will come to an end tonight. Richmond (6-0 NCC) already has a share of the league title wrapped up and the Red Devils can take it outright with a victory over last-place Logansport tonight.
The title is Richmond’s first since 2001 and its record 24th all-time. Kokomo ranks No. 2 with 17 titles.
Kokomo entertains Anderson tonight. The Indians are an entertaining bunch — they score 35.9 points per game and allow 35.6 ppg. The Indians dropped high-scoring contests against Richmond (47-34) and Huntington North (62-49).
The Kats will attack the Indians with their relentless ground game. The Kats lead the state in rushing attempts (435) and they’re 12th in rushing yards (2,572). Individually, Michael Copeland is 17th in the state with 1,186 yards.
Kokomo has beaten Anderson seven straight times. The Kats own a 38-17-2 lead in the all-time series.
Western (4-4, 4-2 MIC) at Cass (7-1, 5-1 MIC)
From 2002-09, Cass had Western’s number, beating the Panthers seven straight times. The Panthers followed with wins in 2010 and last year. The Panthers lead the all-time series 25-21.
Tonight, the Panthers visit the Class 2A No. 7-ranked Kings for a clash of upper-division Mid-Indiana Conference teams.
Cass is on a roll, having won four straight and having outscored its opponents 219-12 during the streak.
Western had a three-game happy streak snapped last week when it fell to MIC leader Hamilton Heights 33-0.
Heights handed Cass its only loss, 45-7 back in Week 4.
NW (6-2, 4-2 MIC) at Eastern (1-7, 1-5 MIC)
Northwestern and Eastern will meet on the gridiron for the 51st time tonight. To the winner goes the all-time series lead. It’s tied 25-25 going into tonight.
The Tigers have won six straight in the series, but the last three games between the teams have been close, decided by a total of 21 points. Last year, Northwestern beat Eastern 34-28 in a game that had a share of the MIC championship on the line.
Mac (2-6, 2-4 MIC) at Taylor (0-8. 0-6 MIC)
Following three straight 2-8 seasons, Maconaquah has a chance for win No. 3 of 2012 when it visits Taylor tonight. The Braves have not won three or more games in a season since a 4-6 finish in 2006.
Taylor, meanwhile, is looking to avoid its first winless regular season since 2003.
Maconaquah has beaten Taylor two straight times. The Braves own a 25-11 lead in the all-time series.
Around the area
Also in the MIC, Class 3A No. 4 Hamilton Heights (7-1, 6-0) will look to wrap up an undefeated league title when it hosts Peru (3-5, 2-4).
In the Hoosier Conference, Class 2A No. 4 Tipton (7-1, 4-1) hosts Delphi (3-5, 0-5). Class A No. 1 Lafayette Catholic leads the league with a 5-0 record and can take the title outright with a victory over West Lafayette (4-1). If WL wins, it would share the title with Catholic and open the door for Tipton to grab a share, too.
In non-conference games, Carroll (4-4) hosts North White (4-4), and Clinton Central (2-6) hosts Monrovia (3-5).