CARMEL – It went down as a 73-yard pass play, a nice boost on the stat sheet for Michael Viktrup. But Carmel’s senior quarterback was quick to deflect the praise to junior Jalen Walker, who weaved and darted his way for at least 65 of those yards.
“It’s nice when you have guys who are explosive and fast like that,” Viktrup said. “He can bounce off tackles and take it 70-something yards. It makes me look good.”
The combination of Viktrup-to-Walker served Class 6A second-ranked Carmel well on Friday night in a 30-20 win over rival and sixth-ranked Warren Central. Viktrup, an Air Force recruit, was 16-for-26 for 244 yards with Walker on the receiving end of 10 of those balls for 166 yards.
Walker caught touchdown passes of 18 and 73 yards in the first quarter and the go-ahead score on a 10-yard reception late in the third quarter.
“I’m not sure that it gets better than either one of them individually and then especially the combination,” said first-year Carmel coach John Hebert. “They are both team captains and every week it’s just play after play being made. They have a really good chemistry.”
Carmel’s fifth consecutive victory appeared to be on its way to being a blowout early. The Greyhounds (6-2) raced to a 17-0 lead, mixing the combination of Viktrup and Walker through the air with the running of senior Tobias Watkins.
“We were lucky we weren’t behind by even more,” Warren Central coach Jayson West said.
Warren Central (5-3) put together its first extended drive midway through the second quarter. The Warriors drove 80 yards in 13 plays, capped by a 5-yard touchdown run by Jay Coe to make it 17-7 with 5:34 until half.
After a Carmel fumble, Warren Central struck again when Zach Summeier hit Coe on a perfectly-executed middle screen for a 42-yard touchdown that cut Carmel’s lead to 17-13 before halftime.
“We were happy with the effort,” West said of his team. “But we talked with the team that in these kinds of games, it’s the most consistent team that’s going to win.”
Carmel was that team, although it took falling behind to get the Greyhounds jumpstarted again. After Isaac Avant returned the second-half kickoff to the Carmel 39, Warren Central took a 20-17 lead when Summeier found freshman David Bell for a 13-yard touchdown pass.
“Any time it’s Warren Central-Carmel, you know it’s going to be a battle,” Viktrup said. “We knew they were going to fight back at some point. I don’t think it’s anything we weren’t doing, but maybe let our guard down a little bit.”
After a long drive and missed field goal into the wind on its next possession, Carmel got the ball back late in the third quarter at its own 47. Five plays later, Viktrup found a wide-open Walker for a 10-yard touchdown pass.
Warren Central failed to pick up a first down on its next two drives. Carmel’s standout kicker, Nick Stacy, hit field goals of 43 and 27 yards, the latter with 1:32 left to seal the win, which was tempered somewhat by a knee injury to starting center, senior Chase Krauter.
Watkins came up big on the final two drives for Carmel and finished with 134 yards on 29 carries.
“He has a knack for making the most out of the smallest of spaces,” Hebert said of Watkins.
Viktrup, who also rushed for 101 yards on 17 carries, said the Greyhounds are in a good place heading into the final regular season game next week.
“I think we’re on a roll now,” he said.
Call Star reporter Kyle Neddenriep at (317) 444-6649.
CARMEL 30, WARREN CENTRAL 20
Carmel – Jalen Walker 18 pass from Michael Viktrup (Nick Stacy kick)
Carmel – Viktrup 73 pass to Walker (Stacy kick)
Carmel – Stacy 36 FG
Warren Central – Jay Coe 5 run (Schulyer Nehrig kick)
Warren Central – Coe 42 pass from Zach Summeier (kick blocked)
Warren Central – David Bell 13 pass from Summeier (Nehrig kick)
Carmel – Walker 10 pass from Viktrup (Stacy kick)
Carmel – Stacy 43 FG
Carmel – Stacy 27 FG
Rushing – Warren Central, Coe 9-33, Isaac Avant 5-28, Terry Hart 5-26, Summeier 5-12. Carmel, Tobias Watkins 29-134, Viktrup 17-101, Walker 1-12, Stephen Watts 1-0, Ethan Merriweather 1-(-1).
Passing — Warren Central, Summeier 18-28-0 196. Carmel, Viktrup 16-26-0 244.
Receiving — Warren Central, Coe 6-80, David Bell 6-47, Tristen Tonte 4-52, Paul Minor 3-17. Carmel, Walker 10-166, Merriweather 3-20, Kurt Rafdal 2-23, Marcus Perkins 1-35.