By Kevin Messenger
Here’s a look at one or more players of the game from each of this week’s 12 Semistate matchups. The winners meet next weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium for six state championship games.
Eli Aston, WR, East Central
The Trojans receiver threw a touchdown pass for a 14-7 lead in the third period and his touchdown catch with 9:10 to play put East Central to a 21-14 lead. Later, after Roncalli leveled it and set it up for a successful field goal, Aston blocked the field goal attempt to send the game into overtime. The Trojans kicked their own field goal for a 24-21 win and a trip to the state championship.
Teagan Bennett, RB, Lawrenceburg
Bennett rushed for 194 yards on 23 carries while leading Lawrenceburg 35-7 past Monrovia. Bennett hit rushing TDs from 10, 2, 18 and 34 yards to give Lawrenceburg an early lead 28-7. Neither team scored a goal in the second half.
Defense of Bishop Chatard
Undefeated West Lafayette had averaged 44.7 points, peaking in 3A. The Red Devils came into play with 12 straight fights of 40 points or more. However, the Trojans’ defense forced three punts, five turnovers and two turnovers on downs. Four straight second-half interceptions prevented West Lafayette from making a comeback. West Lafayette QB Max Mullis came on with five interceptions all season; On Friday, the Trojans produced five INTs from five different players.
Ryan Black, QB, Adams Central
Black rushed for four of the Flying Jets’ five touchdown runs in a 35-0 win over North Judson. Adams Central again advances to the 1A State Finals for a rematch with Lutheran, who won last year’s State Title Game 34-28.
Drayk Bowen, RB-LB, Andrean
Bowen, signed from Notre Dame, ran at will in the 59ers’ 48-29 win over Bishop Luers. He amassed 358 rushing yards and five touchdowns to send Andrean to the 2A State Finals for a second straight season and eighth overall.
Micah Coyle, RB, Center Grove
Cathedral No. 2 led 10-3 when Coyle took over. He scored the next four touchdowns of the game and watched the Trojans’ defense choke out Irish passing as Center Grove advanced to their fourth straight Championship game. Coyle was the Trojans’ workhorse, finishing the tournament for 218 yards and four touchdowns on 32 carries.
Travis Davis II, RB, Valparaíso
Davis ran 40 times for 260 yards and two TDs in the Vikings’ upset win over Fort Wayne Snider, who was leading in 5A. Davis snapped a straight shot for a 26-yard TD run in fourth and second, then added a two-point conversion to tie the score at 14 and send the game into overtime. After Snider scored on the first possession of overtime, Valpo found QB Justin Clark fourth and goal from the 8 into the end zone, and Davis scored another two-point conversion for the 22-21 win.
Devaun Jones, WR, Lutheran of Indianapolis
Joe Davis reached the end zone three times in the Lutheran win, but it was Jones who fought to catch a pass from Jackson Willis and then sprinted the remaining 30 yards for a 66-yard TD in the third quarter that broke a 7-7 Tie and gave the Saints the momentum they needed to beat North Decatur and win their 29th straight game.
Marshall Kmiecik, QB, New Prairie
Kmiecik led a late comeback to catapult the Cougars past Kokomo and into the 4A championship game. New Prairie was 9-0 down, but after a field goal and a successful onside kick with 4:06 left, Kmiecik got to work. In the Cougars’ first game after recovery, Kmiecik found Dallas Ryans for a 39-yard pass to the 6-yard line, then scored two games later with a game-winning 6-yard run. Kmiecik led the Cougars for 76 yards on the ground and 79 yards through the air.
Joey Pierre, RB, Evansville Mater Dei
After being hampered all season by a knee injury, Pierre returned to form, scoring just a touchdown in Mater Dei’s 51-28 romp against Linton-Stockton, but his 181 yards on 26 carries gave the Wildcats energy that constantly 2nd or 3rd stands situations while he punishes the Linton defense with first downs. Mater Dei scored on his first nine possessions and meets Andrean in a 2A rematch of last year’s state title game, which Andrean won 21-9.
Braden Steely, RB, Fort Wayne Carroll
Steely gave the Chargers a 14-12 lead and one break on the Chargers’ first two touchdowns — and a lead they never gave up in the snow and freezing temperatures. Steely led the Carroll groundplay with 66 yards on 20 carries, including a short run to limit the Chargers’ opening drive. After top-ranked Hamilton Southeastern closed within 7-6, Steely’s 15-yard run increased the Chargers’ lead to 14-6. Carroll beat HSE 21-15 to earn his first state championship game in school history.
Drew VanVleet, QB, Bishop Chatard
The Trojans’ defense stopped West Lafayette and their senior QB executed three hits to win. VanVleet built his own 16-yard run on the opening drive with a 31-yard pass play. He completed 9 of 19 passes in the game for 109 yards and another TD to give the Trojans the offense they needed in a 21-3 win.
Whiteland’s ground and pound run game
The Warrior’s downhill attack was just what he needed in a 21-7 win over Castle. Veteran defensemen Jonathan Crowley and Peyton Emberton combined for 121 of the Warriors’ 200 rushing yards in the first half, and as a sophomore, Slate Valentine hit two TDs to send the Warriors to next week’s title game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Whiteland continued his ground control in the second half, limiting Castle’s offense while chewing the time off the clock.
Check out the Indiana High School Football playoff brackets here: Class 6A | Class 5A | Class 4A | Class 3A | Class 2A | Class 1A
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