Kind of a big deal: Cathedral vs. Center Grove

Class 5A top-ranked Irish to host Class 6A top-ranked Trojans


Jade Zhou

Junior Jaron Tibbs, senior Parker Spellacy and senior Daniel Hughes celebrate an Irish touchdown during the team’s 45-21 win over Brebeuf Jesuit.

Will Mayer, Sports Editor

As the varsity football regular season draws to a close, there’s one more game that happens to be circled on the calendar, a game that will be the focus of the entire state, the game against Center Grove. 

This Week 9 matchup will consist of two teams ranked at the top of their class in Indiana and in the Top 40 in the nation. Center Grove, ranked Number 1 in the state and ninth in the nation, will take on the Irish, ranked Number 2 in the state overall and first in Class 5A and 39th in the nation according to MaxPreps. 

Head Coach Mr. Mr. Bill Peebles ‘88 addresses the big challenges that this game will bring on both sides of the ball for the Irish starting with the individual players that Center Grove has on their roster. 

Peebles said, “Caden Curry might be the best football player I’ve ever coached against in my 30 plus years of coaching high school football. He’s a significant talent and he’s different than most guys. He has offers from just about every team in each of the Power 5 conferences. He has a rare combination of talent and work ethic.

“Center Grove’s Tayven Jackson is a University of Tennessee recruit (and the Trojans’ quarterback). He’s an outstanding football player and he’s been their starter at that position for three straight years. He’s a big part of their success over the last couple of years.”

On paper, the Irish have played a tougher schedule than the Trojans, but Peebles doesn’t believe that the previous opponents of any of these teams will matter come game time. Peebles said, “First of all, the records in the (Metropolitan Athletic Conference) don’t really matter because all of the teams in that conference beat up on each other. But Center Grove has dominated that conference, which is either the first or second best conference in the state of Indiana and most years they are the best conference in the state.

“We’ve played a tough schedule this year. We’ve played the Number-1 and Number-2 teams in the Hoosier Crossroads Conference in Westfield and Brownsburg. Westfield, Center Grove, Carmel and Brownsburg are probably the four best teams in the state in my opinion. We’ve played two of those teams, Center Grove has only played one. I think that we’ve played comparable schedules. They’ve probably dominated the scoreboard more than we have. They’ve had a lot more running clocks.

“This game, we just need to rely on our fundamentals. This game is going to come down to mistakes. The team that makes the least amount of mistakes has the best chance to win. We’re going to have to play our best football in order to win this game.”

If you ask any of the Irish football players what is on the line for this game, you’ll hear a long explanation of why this game matters. But for Peebles, not so much. 

Peebles said, “In reality, this game shouldn’t mean anything. Center Grove has already won the MIC and they have their conference championship. Our last goal is to win the last game we play in our season, which doesn’t mean the regular season. That being said, this is a bragging rights game. If you care about national rankings, this is a big game for national rankings, which makes it a lot of fun. 

“This is a fun game. This will be a fun atmosphere. Our kids are going to enjoy it. Their kids are going to enjoy it. I hope both of our communities have fun watching this game and we all want the bragging rights. This is a bragging rights game because there’s no hardware on the line. It’s simply just for bragging rights.”

Last year, the Irish fell to Center Grove in a 17-14 game that came down to one play on fourth down. Peebles plans not to give the Trojans any free passes to scores this game. Peebles said, “We’re going to have to make some big plays. That’s the bottom line. We’re going to need to have some great individual efforts. I don’t think this is the type of game where we’re going to be able to nickel and dime the other team down the field and have 15 play drives.

“I also believe the same is going to have to happen for them. If they were able to put together some 15-play drives down the field and score on us, it would surprise me because our defense has given up some big plays, but they haven’t given up any long drives. I think this game might be a very defensive oriented game, with some big plays mixed in between, for both teams. That’s just the way I see it at this point.” 

The Irish will play against the Trojans of Center Grove at 7 p.m. on Oct. 15. The game will be played at Arlington Middle School.