ST. LEON, Ind. -- The East Central Trojans advanced to the IHSAA Class 4A state championship game by knocking off the Roncalli Rebels on Friday night 21-0 in St. Leon behind a dominating defensive effort and a strong night from senior quarterback Luke Patton.
It marks the first time that East Central (12-2) has reached the state finals since 1994.
“This is the best feeling in the world,” Patton said on the Eagle 99.3 radio postgame show. “We dreamed about since we were in sixth grade and in the Super Bowl.”
Roncalli beat East Central in the regular-season finale 31-10, but it was a much different game this time around. The Trojans executed at every phase of the game and dominated things up front to lead the charge.
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Patton rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another to lead the charge offensively, and the defense pitched its fourth shutout of the season. Clayton Castle pulled in the TD pass from 15 yards out.
“I have to get credit to our defensive line,” head coach Justin Rhoden said during his radio appearance. “We only blitzed three or four times, and they just couldn’t run anywhere.”
Roncalli (9-5) couldn’t get anything going all night long, and they really sputtered in the first half, finishing the first two quarters with minus 1 yard of total offense.
East Central played confidently and did not flinch on the big stage. That was evident in the fact that they went 7-for-7 on fourth down conversions in the game.
“Roncalli is a good team,” Patton said. “We came out with a chip on our shoulder, and tonight we were the better team.”
Up next is a trip to Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis, where the Trojans will meet Ft. Wayne Bishop Dwenger (13-1) next Saturday at 3:30 p.m. with the IHSAA Class 4A state title on the line.