With a pair of area teams competing in state championship games this weekend, Outside the Huddle is breaking down the chances of a northeast Indiana team or two bringing home titles from Indianapolis.
Today, we look at Bishop Luers (8-6) taking on Western Boone (10-4).
1. SEASONED VETS PART 1
Thanksgiving weekend in Indianapolis is not a new thing for Western Boone. In fact, it has become a regularity.
The Stars are playing in their third-straight 2A state title game, having beaten Eastbrook soundly in the last two seasons to win championships.
WeBo has seen some of its top talent graduate over the last two years, but it has been replaced by newcomers ready to continue 2A dominance for one more year before jumping to 3A due to success factor.
2. SEASONED VETS PART II
Yes, it is true that no one has played in more state championship games than Bishop Luers (16). But this is the Knights’ first trip to Indianapolis since 2012, the longest drought for the program in its history.
So while Bishop Luers as a program is familiar with the big stage, its players are not. Factor in the turnover on the coaching staff and only a few know the feeling of playing at Lucas Oil Stadium for a state title.
When facing a team that is experienced in that area, it is a concern.
3. SLOW STARTS
Bishop Luers and Western Boone each began the season 1-3 before working out the kinks and getting hot over the second half of the season.
In fact, the Knights were just 3-6 entering the playoffs, while Western Boone was 5-4.
Both survived a regular season that saw the teams play up in class opponents. Bishop Luers did not play a single opponent below 3A, while WeBo played just two.
The punishment of the regular season paid off in the way of runs to the state finals.
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
ROBBY TAYLOR, SENIOR, WESTERN BOONE
Taylor is no stranger to the turf at Lucas Oil Stadium. Last year against Eastbrook, the running back amassed 81 yards and three touchdowns on the ground in a rout of the Panthers.
Now back and tougher than he was as a junior, Taylor comes in with 1,645 yards rushing and 19 touchdowns. He has toted the rock over 300 times this year, showing just how durable he is.
CARSON CLARK, JUNIOR, BISHOP LUERS
No quarterback in northeast Indiana has been better than Clark since early October.
Since Week 8 against South Side, the junior has thrown for 1,868 yards and 25 touchdowns with just a single interception.
Oh, and he has also scrambled for three touchdowns during that same time frame.
Clark has become one of the best signalcallers in Class 2A seemingly overnight. He has the confidence of his coaches and teammates and leads by example.
LUKE MARSH, SENIOR, WESTERN BOONE
The middle linebacker is the leader of the defense and is just a single tackle away from the all-time season record for tackles at WeBo.
Marsh has 174 tackles and 25.5 TFL and is a real thorn in the side for opposing offenses in his ability to move from sideline to sideline and bring down ball carriers.
BEN RECTANUS, SENIOR, BISHOP LUERS
Not only will Rectanus play a big role on the offensive and defensive lines for Bishop Luers, he is one of the members of a senior class that has led by example through 2020.
While a lot of the Knights’ players are underclassmen, Rectanus has been through the wars over the past few years. While he has never played in a state championship, he has been in some big-time spots with this program.
Rectanus was clutch on the two-point attempt by Pioneer last week that would have given the Panthers the lead in the fourth quarter. He can make that type of impact again on Friday.
TWO KEYS TO VICTORY – WESTERN BOONE
1. HANDLE THE MOMENT
There is no doubt that there will be some nerves on the side of Bishop Luers, with all of their players new to the experience that is the state finals.
Meanwhile, Western Boone has been there, done that. It will not be intimidated by the cavernous environment, the sizable crowd or what is on the line.
WeBo has the edge here, and that can propel it to victory if used to its advantage.
2. LOCK DOWN LUERS’ RECEIVERS
While Clark has been exceptional in the pocket for Bishop Luers, he has been helped immeasurably by the play of his receivers.
Brody Glenn has been sensational, while Ramon Anderson and Krashaun Menson and Nick Thompson have been excellent complementary guys.
WeBo must account for all of those guys, and not allow Glenn to get open over the top or for Menson and Anderson to catch the ball in space.
Corralling the athletes of Bishop Luers will be key.
TWO KEYS TO VICTORY – BISHOP LUERS
1. PLAY RELAXED
If you come out timid, you will not succeed. That is the mantra for Bishop Luers heading into Friday morning. In an unorthodox setting at an unorthodox time (11 a.m. the day after Thanksgiving), the Knights must be ready to be play from the time they leave the tunnel following their intro video.
Coach Kyle Lindsay will lend his expertise in playing and coaching in these games to his team, but it is up to the players to handle it and excel.
2. GO BIG OFFENSIVELY
Bishop Luers is at its best when the offense is playing loose and taking chances. Carson Clark may be the most confident quarterback in the state right now due to his recent play.
More importantly, his teammates and coaches believe in him to make the right reads and the right throws at the right moments.
It will be that trust that will come into play against WeBo, which likely does not want to get into an offensive shootout with the Knights. If Luers can force the Stars to play catch-up on the scoreboard, it is advantage Knights.