INDIANAPOLIS – That West Lafayette magic seemed to have worn out its welcome.
All season, the Red Devils made the impossible possible.
Friday was going to be the same, even when Chatard started running away with its record 13th football state championship.
“I didn’t doubt. Our guys didn’t doubt,” Red Devils coach Shane Fry said after the Trojans won the Class 3A title, 31-7 in Lucas Oil Stadium.
West Lafayette had its chance late in the third quarter against the mighty Trojans.
Trailing 14-7, Mikey Kidwell’s fourth-down pass was nearly hauled in by Nai Carlisle, who couldn’t hang on to the ball as he landed on his back in the end zone.
Two minutes and one second later, Jarrod Stiver ran up the middle 65 yards for a backbreaking touchdown that the Red Devils never recovered from.
“It was a momentum change. You could see that,” Chatard coach Vince Lorenzano said.
Stiver’s score came after John Chavis gained 20 yards on a third-and-9.
It was 21-7. Definitely not something West Lafayette couldn’t overcome.
Then it was 24-7.
After Gabe Coleman’s 30-yard run with 3:31 to go, reality started to settle in.
“We didn’t play our best game and the results show,” inside linebacker Brendan Adams said.
West Lafayette’s first drive went according to plan.
The Red Devils (13-2) marched 74 yards in eight plays, ending with Kidwell’s 6-yard touchdown to Matt Marley.
West Lafayette would threaten again, but could never crack the end zone.
“After that first drive, we had plenty of other drives where we were in the red zone,” said WL senior Travis Rolle, who rushed for 146 yards. “We needed to finish those drives and keep the momentum going.”
The pass to Carlisle could’ve changed the complexion of the game.
An ensuing extra point could’ve tied the score at 14 going into the fourth quarter.
Instead, the Red Devils found themselves in a two-touchdown hole and facing a team with all the momentum.
Chatard got more than 100 yards rushing from Coleman and Stiver and 77 from Chavis against a defense that was the catalyst for regional and semistate championship wins.
This was a different animal.
“That team had a great O-line to run behind and their backs were good. They had so many weapons,” said WL safety Henry Terhune, who came back after missing two games with a concussion to match Nate Merriott with a game-high 10 tackles. “They broke plays when they needed plays. It was tough to defend. We had a game plan and it didn’t go our way.”
It didn’t take away from the season, one Adams said was more than about football.
Last year’s sectional loss to Yorktown led to workouts the next day.
Terhune said it was the inspiration for the entire season.
Down the road, this team won’t remember the final score of the state championship game. It will remember what it took to get to the state championship game.
“We literally put in a full year of work for this,” Terhune said. “Without that work, we wouldn’t even make it here in the first place. That is what I am going to remember most about this team is the work ethic. This team is special.”