Despite not having a winning season since 2007, the Westfield High School football team felt it could do something special this season.
“It’s something us seniors have been striving for this year and it’s something we knew we could achieve,” senior quarterback Nick Ferrer said of getting to the state final. “The (Hoosier Crossroads) conference championship is nice, but this is really what we were striving for.”
The Class 5A No. 1 Shamrocks dominated from the start in a 35-3 romp over No. 8 Concord in a 5A semistate game on Friday night. Westfield (12-1) will face No. 5 Cathedral (9-5) in the 5A state final at Lucas Oil Stadium next Friday.
“For these guys to go from 3-7 as freshmen to going to a state championship, what a turnaround,” Shamrocks third-year coach Jake Gilbert said. “They deserve all the credit.”
In fact, the Shamrocks were 3-7 last season.
Ferrer completed his first 13 passes before his first incompletion in the third quarter. He finished 13-of-16 for 193 yards.
“We were taking what the defense gave us, running the ball and throwing the ball,” Ferrer said. “It came together.”
Junior Elvin Caldwell rushed for 145 yards on 19 carries, including three touchdowns.
“Our starting tailback Frank Grimes was injured late in the regular season and since Elvin has taken over, he’s averaged seven yards a carry,” Gilbert said. “He hasn’t missed a beat.”
Caldwell credited the offensive line for the success.
“The offensive line killed it the whole game,” Caldwell said. “They protected me and Ferrer both. It was like a walk in the park for the offensive line.”
The Shamrocks put constant pressure on Concord quarterback Trevor Wilmore, who had only been sacked four times all season. Westfield had six sacks, including 2.5 by linebacker Matt Crupi.
“We thought he is so good we had to get pressure,” Gilbert said. “No one is as good when they get pressure so that was our plan all along. We blitzed more than we typically blitz.”
The Shamrocks took advantage of three first-half turnovers to take a 28-3 lead.
On the Minutemen’s first play on offense, Trevor Wilmore was intercepted by Luke Peters. The Shamrocks needed to go just 30 yards on the drive, capped by Caldwell’s 4-yard TD run.
After Concord hit a 30-yard field goal, the Shamrocks quickly came back with a three-play, 60-yard drive. It was capped by Ferrer’s 38-yard TD pass to Nick Henderson to help Westfield lead 14-3 after the first quarter.
Caldwell’s second TD, a 3-yard run, gave the Shamrocks a 21-3 lead. Westfield made it 28-3 when Ferrer scored on a 1-yard quarterback sneak on fourth down with 2:02 left in the second quarter.
Caldwell’s final TD was a 6-yard run in the third quarter.