SHERIDAN — The first shocker happened two weeks ago, a 33-27 Tri-Central triumph over Sheridan that most people considered an upset — except it wasn’t. Domination has a way of looking very convincing.
So here Friday night in the semifinal round of Class A Sectional No. 44, the No. 8-ranked Trojans repeated themselves with a totally dominant 35-7 Trojan victory over their Hoosier Heartland Conference rivals that was was even more convincing and really not as close as the final tally indicates.
Getting four touchdown passes from quarterback Cody Howell and 118 yards and a TD in 22 rushes by Garrett Kelley, the Trojans are now in prime position to capture their second sectional crown and first since 1991 when they host Clinton Prairie next Friday.
TC buried the Gophers, 54-0 back on Sept. 13 en route to an unbeaten Hoosier Heartland Conference championship. But TC coach George Gilbert refused to think in terms of a blowout or a pushover, saying: “We’re taking nobody for granted. Prairie has improved considerably since that first game.”
In Friday night’s game, the Trojans dominated the Blackhawks on both sides of the ball, 186-168 on the turf and 117-38 through the air. Sheridan got 64 of that 168 total when fleet junior running back Austin Hoover went the distance on the Hawks’ first offensive move of the second half. Other than that the Hawks managed a menial 104 yards in 32 carries (3.3) and for the game suffered a minus-42 in six other trips.
Granted, the TC offense was too much for the Hawks, or as Sheridan coach Bud Wright said afterward: “Tri-Central just outplayed us because they were better than us. We couldn’t stop their veer offense. We tried but couldn’t stop them.”
Gilbert heaped praise on both the effort of the offense and defense with: “Our offense was great and coach [Shane] Arnold had a great game plan and coach [Memo] Perez’s defense was the big difference, especially in the second half and set up several of our scores. Hoover is a terrific back, but he had just one big play the entire game. [Assistant coaches] Jason Tolle and P.J. Hatcher also had a big hand in that defensive effort.”