HS football: Roncalli finishes off undefeated regular season

Roncalli senior quarterback Derek O’Connor finished a perfect 13-of-13 passing.

Roncalli senior quarterback Derek O’Connor finished a perfect 13-of-13 passing.

NOBLESVILLE — Roncalli announced on Twitter on Friday morning that its football game against Guerin Catholic was the biggest regular season game in the program’s storied history.

If that created any added pressure for the Rebels, they showed no signs of it on the field.

With the pressure on, the Rebels broke a fourth-quarter tie with a touchdown and converted a fourth-and-1 deep in Guerin territory in the final minutes to help clinch a 28-21 win.

The win gives the Class 4A top-ranked Rebels (9-0, 3-0) the inaugural Circle City Conference title, a game ahead of Class 3A No. 2 Guerin (7-2, 2-1).

It also preserved Roncalli’s fifth undefeated regular season and first since 1999. Three of the previous four undefeated regular seasons resulted in a state title.

“We told the guys this was the most important regular season game since I’ve been here,” said Roncalli coach Bruce Scifres, in his 27th year. “We had the most riding on it.”

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“I’m proud of the way our kids stepped up tonight,” he added. “We never punted tonight and maintained possession. I’m proud of the way we hung in there and fought to the final whistle.”

The Rebels dominated in almost every statistical category, outgaining the Golden Eagles 375-143.

Junior running back Patrick McManama rushed 26 times for 156 yards and two touchdowns, while senior quarterback Derek O’Connor finished 13-of-13 passing and added a 50-yard run to set up his team’s third touchdown.

Still, the Eagles managed to stay in the game until the end.

The score was tied at 21 after the third quarter, but Roncalli capped a 14-play, 76-yard drive on a McManama touchdown to give the Rebels a 28-21 lead with 9:39 to play.

Guerin followed with a promising drive, but back-to-back sacks of quarterback Luke Keller forced the Eagles to punt.

Guerin’s punt pinned the Rebels back at the 2-yard line with 3:52 to play. On a fourth-and-1 from the   Rebels 11, senior running back Nate Fischer’s 3-yard run all but sealed the game with about two minutes to play. Another first down three plays later allowed the Rebels to kneel in the final minute.

“It was more than their alignment,” Scifres said of the fourth-down call. “It’s the heart of this team; it’s what we do. We’re a power offense. If they can stop us from getting six inches, we don’t deserve to win. … Our guys would be disappointed if we punted it.”

“We were hoping to stop them,” Guerin coach Tom Dilley offered. “It was a huge play.”

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Scifres was especially proud of McManama, who rushed for over 100 yards for the first time in his career. He was filling in for leading rusher Kenny Gillum, who missed the game with a leg injury.

“I talked with him this week about this being his time to step up and play like a man,” Scifres said. “He deserves to be successful, and he stepped up and got it done.”

Like McNanama, Guerin’s Carter McGinnis was hard to stop. He finished with 116 yards rushing on 25 carries and scored all three of the Eagles’ touchdowns, including a two-point conversion when trailing 14-12 in the second quarter.

“They’re a good football team,” Guerin defensive coordinator Matt Lane said. “We seemed to be one guy short all night long. They mixed it up. But our guys played hard.”

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R – Patrick McManama 3 run (Patrick Sandler kick)

G – Carter McGinnis 34 run (kick failed)

R – Derek O’Connor 1 run (Sandler kick)

G – McGinnis 1 run (McGinnis run)

R – O’Connor 9 run (Sandler kick)

G – McGinnis 1 run (Caleb Quick kick)

R – McNanama 1 run (Sandler kick)


Rushing — Roncalli, Patrick McManama 26-156, Derek O’Connor 13-88, Nate Fischer 8-22. Guerin Catholic, Carter McGinnis 25-116, Thomas Kaser 1-8, Luke Keller 2-(-12).

Passing — Roncalli, O’Connor 13-13-0109. Guerin Catholic, Keller 3-7-0-31.

Receiving — Roncalli, Aidan Parker 3-27, Luke Smock 4-25, Fischer 1-1, Jacob Fryar 1-13, Jacob Luedeman 4-43. Guerin Catholic, Trevor George 1-8, Emmett McMahon 1-12, Grant Fremion 1-11.