This flair for the dramatic started with the season’s second game.
Since then, the cardiac kids from West Lafayette have put themselves in some unimaginable situations to come back from.
And yet, here the Red Devils are, taking the field at Lucas Oil Stadium with a chance to raise a state championship trophy on Saturday evening if they can beat Chatard.
They’ve won going away, come back from double figures in the final minutes, relied on defensive stands in the red zone and last-second touchdowns. There’s not a football situation that you can draw up that West Lafayette hasn’t already faced this season.
“The trust we have within our team in each other, our guys never bring each other down,” senior Jeffrey Kim said. “Whenever something goes wrong, we bring them up and all work to make up for it.”
Take, for example, the Aug. 28 game against McCutcheon.
One week after thumping then Class 3A No. 1 Tri-West, the Red Devils needed two blocked extra point attempts by Jonah Williams to set them up for a 34-33 win after West Side overcame a 14-point deficit in the final 1:46.
“Our team has a lot of confidence knowing we can do what we did and come back from 13 points down like that,” junior lineman Adrian Sanchez said.
That was followed by a string of six blowout wins before a six-week series of one grueling test after another, each one presenting a different challenge.
The regular season ended with WL’s only loss, a 38-20 setback to Central Catholic.
“In Indiana, it doesn’t matter if you win any games in the regular season, so what we want to have happen in the regular season is we want to get the best possible competition so we are not shocked by anything come playoff time,” WL coach Shane Fry said.
They’ve played the last six weeks without Spencer Ronchetto, perhaps their best football player. Kim, safety Henry Terhune and inside linebacker Brendan Adams all suffered injuries since Week 9, too, and have all recovered after missing games.
The postseason has offered its share of threats to a state championship dream, but no shockers.
A week after that CC loss, Western Boone had the Red Devils down in the second quarter in a battle of ranked teams. A strong second half assured that WL would not lose in the sectional opener for a second year in a row.
Then there was the third quarter against Hamilton Heights, where the Huskies looked to overcome a regular-season loss by closing the gap to a single touchdown going into the fourth. Another test passed.
Matt Marley’s game-winning touchdown in the final seconds of the sectional championship happened only after a questionable reception by Jack Folkers on fourth down kept a late drive alive versus North Montgomery.
Bellmont was a grind-it-out win in the regional after a two-and-a-half hour bus trip.
Mishawaka Marian stole all the momentum a week ago in the semistate with a pick-six right before halftime when West Lafayette appeared ready to take the lead. The Red Devils overcame a 10-0 halftime deficit and stopped the Knights on fourth down inside the red zone.
Now it’s one game, each postseason week seemingly providing a little bit more difficult opponent, capped by 12-time state champion Chatard.
“It’s just a football game,” Fry said. “We’re not getting all hyped up because it is Chatard. We’re not getting hyped up because it is the state championship. We’re treating it like all our postseason games. It’s been a new and different test for us every week and this will be a new and different test again this week.”