When this year’s senior class watched Lafayette Central Catholic’s football program cap off an impressive stretch of four state titles in four years in 2012, they were ready to continue the tradition.
But a pair of difficult losses during the last two state tournaments put the pause button on those dreams.
Those dreams were fulfilled Friday as the top-ranked Knights pulled away from No. 3 Linton-Stockton 34-7 to claim the Class A state championship at Lucas Oil Stadium. It’s the program’s seventh state title and the school’s 20th overall championship since 1976.
“When we were here as freshmen, most of us didn’t play,” linebacker Ethan Schrader said. “The two years we weren’t here, it was tough. But it’s great to be back here and finish it off with a win.”
Brandon Yeagy rushed for three touchdowns, Jackson Anthrop gained 149 yards on a season-high 32 carries and Central Catholic’s defense stymied the Miners’ high-power rushing attack to pave the way to another title.
“We had two heartbreaking seasons, and to get back to your senior year with your brothers and this senior group, it’s phenomenal,” Anthrop said. “We worked hard all summer and to do it at the end was great.”
The Knights lost to Rensselaer and Tipton the last two seasons in the Class 2A tournament, but moved back to Class A prior to this season. Facing a difficult regular-season schedule, including Guerin Catholic and Hoosier Conference opponents, Central Catholic was more than prepared for a state championship run.
“We have a great conference, we had tough opponents in the tournament,” said senior Adam Lovell, whose interception set up the Knights’ final touchdown. “All these hard conference games and out of conference like Guerin and Pioneer, they all lead to this moment.”
It was a moment worth waiting for.
The Knights started fast, building a 17-0 lead on Avery Denhart’s 63-yard touchdown pass to Luke Fusiek on the team’s fifth offensive play. Yeagy added a 1-yard TD run and Sam Milazzo’s 25-yard field goal forced Linton out of its comfortable zone.
The Miners cut the lead to 17-7 at the end of the first half and Denhart was picked off by Pierce Jackson early in the third quarter, giving them a chance to cut into the margin. But CC’s defense held, stopping Tyler Meurer on a fourth-and-1 quarterback draw with 8:11 on the clock.
From there, the Knights scored 17 consecutive points as Yeagy added TD runs of 1 and 4-yards and Milazzo converted a 23-yard field goal.
“All the hard work from the summer time paid off,” said Fusiek, who finished with four receptions for 130 yards. “It’s great to be here and win. Getting through the year was tough bit we managed to keep winning.”
LAFAYETTE CC 34, LINTON-STOCKTON 7
Lafayette CC 7 10 3 14 — 34
Linton-Stockton 0 7 0 0 — 7
LCC — Luke Fusiek 63 pass from Avery Denhart (Sam Milazzo kick)
LCC — Brandon Yeagy 3 run (Milazzo kick)
LCC — Milazzo 25 FG
LS — Jacob Clothier 7 pass from Tyler Meurer (William Luke Wilson kick)
LCC — Milazzo 23 FG
LCC — Yeagy 1 run (Milazzo kick)
LCC — Yeagy 4 run (Milazzo kick)
Rushing —Lafayette Central Catholic: Jackson Anthrop 32-150, Brandon Yeagy 8-16, Avery Denhart 3-9, Adam Dienhart 3-9, Ben Metzinger 1-0. Linton-Stockton: Mitchell Eberhardt 9-43, Tyler Meurer 14-39, Pierce Jackson 9-27, Garrett Mason 4-10, Keaton Cox 2-5, Kendall Williams 1-1.
Passing — Lafayette Central Catholic: Denhart 8-18-1 193. Linton-Stockton: Meurer 8-18-1 54.
Receiving — Lafayette Central Catholic: Luke Fusiek 4-130, Ben Tharp 2-22, Anthrop 1-27, Metzinger 1-14. Linton-Stockton: Jacob Clothier 4-21, Jackson 3-24, Chad Trent 1-9.