Football team shifts focus to Sectional

Irish will travel to Terre Haute South for tournament opener

With+blocking+in+place%2C+senior+John+Koscielski+advances+the+ball+up+the+field+at+Center+Grove.+

Ethan Marasco

With blocking in place, senior John Koscielski advances the ball up the field at Center Grove.

Will Mayer, Reporter

After taking the state’s top-ranked Class 6A team down to the wire on Oct. 16, the varsity football team looks to make another deep run in the State tournament with Head Coach Mr. Bill Peebles ‘88 on the sideline.

The Irish have a week off between their game against Center Grove, which came from behind to beat the Irish 17-13, and the first Sectional game at Terre Haute South on Oct. 30.

When it comes to having down time between the games, Peebles said in an interview in his office in Kelly Hall, “I hope it helps our team. With the type of schedule we’ve had this year, we’ve had no breaks, no downtime, every game has been against a really good opponent and sort of a rivalry type of game so I think just mentally, physically and emotionally, our guys need some sort of a break. We all just need to take a deep breath and get our legs back underneath us and recharge for the tournament.”

South goes into the Sectional with a losing record (3-4) and with one regular season common opponent with the Irish. Brebeuf Jesuit absolutely handled South in a dominating fashion 42-7. At Homecoming, Peebles’ team easily defeated Brebeuf 49-7.

Teams like the Irish sometimes can begin to lose focus and be complacent. 

But Peebles has a plan to make sure the Irish don’t do either. Peebles said, “Every week no matter who we play, we talk about Cathedral playing the Irish every game. On our schedule board in the football locker room, when it says who our opponent is, it says Irish for every week. 

So we’ve played some really good teams, but we always prepare for us to play our best against us, not necessarily worrying about the opponent. So each week that we go into it, we obviously prepare for their play schemes, but it’s always about us doing our best each week and measuring ourselves against ourselves.”

Peebles’ team has definitely played the best of the Irish each week, putting up great scores against Westfield, defending 6A State champion Carmel, annual powerhouse Penn and many others. 

Peebles said, “Hopefully the schedule we’ve played in the regular season is a strength that we’ve prepared ourselves to face adversity and that our guys know how to handle it when things are going well and going poorly.” Peebles said he believes that Cathedral, as he termed it, playing the Irish and not the opponent of the field has allowed the football team to set a tone that will lead to success in the Sectional opener and beyond. 

When looking at the stats on MaxPreps, the Irish have scored at least three points or more in almost every quarter this season. The Irish are definitely the favorite against the Braves. When it comes to the matchup between the two teams, Peebles said, “Terre Haute South actually has a lot of really good athletes. They have a wide receiver who is committed to Indiana State, they have a big strong quarterback, so we’ll have plenty of things to worry about and prepare for. 

We’ve just got to worry about ourselves and make sure that we’re executing at a high level and don’t make mistakes.”

— Head Coach Mr. Bill Peebles '88

“They actually put up a lot of points as well, but they also give up a lot of points. We’ve just got to worry about ourselves and make sure that we’re executing at a high level and don’t make mistakes.”

The Irish do have to travel a distance to play the Braves. Peebles said, “The rule of thumb is, every time you travel, you’re always down seven points per hour in the buses. It’s about an hour and 15 minute drive, there so we’ll treat the game like we’re down seven when we show up for game time.”

Over the course of this season, Peebles pointed out that he has seen some impressive leadership from the upperclassmen. 

The coach said, “(Senior) Jake Langdon has had an outstanding year at running back for us. He’s been an absolute workhorse. The offensive line has gotten better every week, which they’ll need to continue to do throughout the playoffs. Defensively, Our two senior captain defensive ends have done an outstanding job. 

“And our linebacking core, two of them being juniors, they have improved each week. Zane Hill has had a great year playing cornerback, he’s come up with a lot of big interceptions and key moments for us. What we’ve seen is consistent improvement from guys who didn’t play a lot last year and they’ve developed throughout the year. We’ve been very happy with the development of our young offensive line. Will Sizemore has had a great senior season

“He was a JV player as a junior and has started every game doing a great job. We’ve seen much improvement throughout all of our new starters.”

When it comes to being the top team in the 5A poll, Peebles said that the rankings mean absolutely nothing when it comes to the tournament. “If we play poorly, we can get knocked out. Covid-19 can knock us out of the tournament as well,” Peebles said.

The coach said, “If we get three or four guys knocked out with Covid, we have to shut down the program and forfeit It’s been so important for us to tell our guys to stay distanced, or even changing our postgame routine so that we’re doing everything we can so that if something bad were to happen it’s not going to be because we’ve done something dumb. It can happen to us even if we do everything right.

“So we’re just trying to do everything right when it comes to distancing, wearing masks, not spending too much time in the locker room. We don’t have meetings indoors in tight spaces for long periods of time. We’re still using Zoom on Saturdays, so we’re trying to do everything we can to minimize the impact of Covid on our football team.”

And while Peebles and the coaching staff have taken great pains to ensure that their players remain healthy, the coach asked Irish fans to do the same. He said,  “Be safe so that you don’t affect our football team and their chances to play each week in the tournament.”