INDIANAPOLIS – Though they reside on opposite ends of Marion County, it’s hard to find another set of high school football programs in Central Indiana that are more alike than Ben Davis and Warren Central.
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The perennial Class 6A powers each have won eight state championships. They’ve split their 38 head-to-head matchups over the past 30 years. Warren Central won last year’s Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference rivalry game by a point.
Friday’s 91st Circle City Showdown didn’t have that same level of drama, with undefeated Ben Davis rolling to a 45-16 win over the visiting Warriors, but it did offer a grim reminder of the parallels that remain between the teams.
After securing his 100th career win, Ben Davis coach Mike Kirschner brought the two teams together in the middle of the field to deliver a message bigger than the statement the Giants had just made on the field.
Kirschner, a 1979 Warren Central grad and former Warriors coach, spoke about the importance of unity and peace between the crosstown rivals. In May, Warren Central senior Dijon Anderson — a standout defensive back who was the MIC Defensive Player of the Year last year, died from injuries sustained in a shooting. Ben Davis senior starting safety Rondell Allen was shot several times this July in a drive-by shooting. He survived and was sitting in a wheelchair just outside the circle Friday as Kirschner spoke.
“The tragedy of the streets here in Indiana — maybe I’m not doing enough, but I’m preaching all the time, every chance I get,” Kirschner would later say. “It’s hitting so close to home. Our kids are getting into places they don’t need to be getting into — into situations they don’t need to be. It’s tragic. We’ve got to stop losing people. Moms and dads have got to take their kids and put them in the house. Quit letting them run the streets at 1, 2 3 in the morning. Put them in the house. If they don’t like it, come get me and I’ll get them.”