The wait is finally over for East Central. The Trojans are back in the Indiana football finals for the first time since 1994. That season East Central brought home the only championship trophy in program history.
Getting to the promised land again is not going to be easy against a Bishop Dwenger team that lost in the finale just two years ago. A hungry bunch of Saints seniors have unfinished business from their sophomore season that they would like to lay to rest. So let's take a look at the teams and pick a winner:
EAST CENTRAL TROJANS (12-2) vs. BISHOP DWENGER SAINTS (13-1)
Kickoff: Saturday 3:30 p.m. – Class 4A state championship at Lucas Oil Stadium
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PLAYERS TO WATCH: A good mix of seniors and underclassmen make Bishop Dwenger incredibly versatile. Junior running back Amaun Clark has run for 1,719 yards and 22 touchdowns. He has 10 games of 100 yards or more on the ground. Classmate Blake Podschlne does a good job of keeping the fort in order at quarterback. Podschlne has thrown for 1,654 yards. run for another 581 yards and accounted for 23 touchdowns (14 passing, nine rushing).
Seniors Austin and Colin Burns pace a stellar Saints defense. Junior linebackers Frankie Yanko and Peter Winklejohn have been terrors as well. The Saints love to bring pressure as their 44 sacks attest. Colin Burns and Yanko lead the team with 11 takedowns each. Austin Burns has a team-high eight takeaways (six interceptions, two fumble recoveries).
The dynamic duo of quarterback Luke Patton and running back Doug Rosemeyer are front and center of a potent East Central rushing attack. Patton has accounted for 3,116 yards of total offense (1,712 rushing, 1,404 passing) and 42 total touchdowns (33 rushing, nine passing). Rosemeyer has run for 1,442 yards and 14 touchdowns.
The East Central defense is coming off its best showing of the year, shutting out Roncalli. The Trojans are allowing just 11.8 points per game during the post-season. Seniors Dusty Ward, Hunter Armstrong, Jacob Steinmetz and Dario Guintini set the tone on this side of the ball.
TEAM TRENDS: Bishop Dwenger has won 13 in a row after losing the seven games prior to that including the final six contests of 2014. The Saints have not allowed more than 25 points during their current winning streak. Dwenger is looking for its fourth state title in school history. They last won the crown in 1991.
This the third trip to the state finals for East Central. The Trojans were in the championship game in 1993 & ’94. East Central has only had one losing season since its only state title in 1994 (21 years).
BISHOP DWENGER’S KEYS TO VICTORY: The Saints have to be wary of being over-emotional. Long-time head coach Chris Svarzckopf had to relinquish his duties for the season to assistant Ernie Bojrab as he had to undergo treatments for cancer. Keeping an even keel throughout the game will be the hardest part of managing the game for Bojrab.
EAST CENTRAL’S KEYS TO VICTORY: The great defensive performance the Trojans had last week versus Roncalli has to carry over for one more game. East Central will do itself big favors if it can shut down either the run or pass and make Bishop Dwenger one dimensional. Balance has been key for the Saints, and upsetting that apple cart will be imperative for the Trojans defense.
Prediction: East Central 21, Bishop Dwenger 17