BY PAUL CONDRY AND MATT KOPSEA
CLASS 1A: PIONEER (14-0) VS. EASTERN GREENE (11-3)
GAME TIME: Noon EST, Friday Lucas Oil Stadium.
COACHES: Adam Berry, 28-1 in second season at Pioneer. Joey Paridaen, 34-14 in fourth season at Eastern Greene, 36-32 in sixth season overall.
LAST CONTEST: Pioneer beat Monroe Central, 42-14. Eastern Greene beat Indianapolis Lutheran, 12-8.
PREVIOUS MEETING: No meetings.
DID YOU KNOW: Pioneer won a state title in 1997 and was state runner-up in 2014 and 2016. Eastern Greene is making its first appearance in the finals after claiming its first regional and semistate crowns this year.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Pioneer’s Ezra Lewellen has carried the ball 80 times for 985 yards and 15 touchdowns. Ethan Helton of Eastern Greene has 32 receptions for 598 yards and nine scores.
COACH TALK: “We knew we had a target on our backs all season long, but our kids continued working hard. We made it back down here, so now, we have to make sure we finish off what we came here to accomplish this time.” – Pioneer’s Adam Berry.
“Our goal is to try to make our offensive team an addition to our defense. We want to try to keep the ball out of their hands and control the game up front, if possible.” – Eastern Greene’s Joey Paridaen.
CLASS 2A: WOODLAN (12-2) VS. SOUTHRIDGE (12-2)
GAME TIME: Noon EST, Saturday, Lucas Oil Stadium.
COACHES: Sherwood Haydock, 55-28 in seventh season at Woodlan, 188-147 in 30th season overall. Scott Buening, 47-15 in fifth season at Southridge, 59-43 in ninth season overall.
LAST CONTEST: Woodlan beat Eastbrook, 15-14. Southridge beat Indianapolis Scecina, 24-7.
PREVIOUS MEETING: None.
DID YOU KNOW: Woodlan is back in the state finals for the first time since 1981. Southridge finished as state runner-up in 1982, 2002, and 2006.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jack Rhoades of Woodlan has 270 carries for 2,089 yards and 25 scores. Southridge’s Grant Maxey has caught 29 passes for 645 yards and six touchdowns.
COACH TALK: “Our seniors were sophomores when we barely got beat in the semistate (14-7 by Whiting in 2015). Last year, we got upset (by South Adams in the sectional) and that left a bad taste in their mouths after being No. 1 all year, so we just needed to get back. I had to explain to them that they needed to regear. They regeared and now, we’re going to state.” – Woodlan’s Sherwood Haydock.
“We can’t line up and do whatever we need to do. We need balance. We need to be flexible. We need to be versatile and whatever advances we have in a game plan.” – Southridge’s Scott Buening.
CLASS 3A: BREBEUF JESUIT (10-4) VS. EVANSVILLE MEMORIAL (13-1)
GAME TIME: 3:30 p.m. EST, Friday, Lucas Oil Stadium.
COACHES: Mic Roessler, 37-23 in fifth season at Brebeuf Jesuit. John Hurley, 72-53 in 10th season at Evansville Memorial.
LAST CONTEST: Brebeuf Jesuit beat Mishawaka Marian, 17-0. Evansville Memorial beat Danville, 28-7.
PREVIOUS MEETING: None.
DID YOU KNOW: Brebeuf Jesuit is back in the title game for the first time since 2013. Evansville Memorial finished state runner-up in 2009 and 2009.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Brebeuf’s Derrick Ozobu has completed 182-of-328 passes for 2,039 yards and 19 touchdowns. Kenyon Ervin of Evansville Memorial has 260 carries for 1,589 yards and 18 scores.
COACH TALK: “We overcame a lot of adversity to get to this point. We had a lot of different players step up for us at different times over the course of the season. We are going to need a total team effort in all three phases of the game to have a chance.” – Brebeuf’s Mic Roessler.
“Our kids have come out and competed all year. This feels pretty good. None of the guys have gotten a chance to experience this before, so we’re excited for this opportunity.” – Evansville Memorial’s John Hurley.
CLASS 4A: LOWELL (14-0) VS. EAST CENTRAL (11-3)
GAME TIME: 3:30 p.m. EST, Saturday, Lucas Oil Stadium.
COACHES: Keith Kilmer, 65-29 in eighth season at Lowell. Justin Roden, 46-20 in fifth season at East Central.
LAST CONTEST: Lowell beat Fort Wayne Bishop Dwenger, 21-7. East Central beat Greenwood, 27-14.
PREVIOUS MEETING: None.
DID YOU KNOW: Lowell captured the state title in 2005 and finished state runner-up in 2007 and 2009. East Central won a state crown in 1994 and finished state runner-up in 1993 and 2015.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Jaeger Gill of Lowell has 22 catches for 615 yards and six scores. East Central’s Logan Storie has rushed for 1,922 yards and 22 scores on 237 attempts.
COACH TALK: “They’re the Lowell of the South. They’re tough, physical. They run the ball and they have a very good defense.” – Lowell’s Keith Kilmer.
“We know it’s going to be a tough game. They’re physical up front. We might have to run some things we haven’t run all year. We might have to be creative.” – East Central’s Justin Roden,
CLASS 5A: KOKOMO (9-4) VS. COLUMBUS EAST (13-1)
GAME TIME: 7:05 p.m. EST, Friday, Lucas Oil Stadium.
COACHES: Brett Colby, 90-30 in 11th season at Kokomo, 205-97 in 28th season overall. Bob Gaddis, 185-34 in 17th season at Columbus East, 303-134 in 39th season overall.
LAST CONTEST: Kokomo beat Michigan City, 21-14. Columbus East beat Indianapolis Cathedral, 42-13.
PREVIOUS MEETING: None.
DID YOU KNOW: Kokomo is competing for its first state championship in football. Columbus East was a state champion in 1979 and 2013 and finished runner-up a year ago.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Kokomo’s Kyle Wade has completed 105-of-179 passes for 1,583 yards and 15 scores. Jamon Hogan of Columbus East has 209 carries for 2,184 yards and 35 touchdowns.
COACH TALK: “Columbus East is a whale of a football team. After playing last year here, I know they had a mission to get back, and try to avenge the loss they had in the state finals (16-13 to Westfield). Coach Gaddis has done a great job getting his team ready to play this year.” – Kokomo’s Brett Colby.
“We have a really good group of seniors and they were determined to get back. They’re playing their best football right now.” – Columbus East’s Bob Gaddis.
CLASS 6A: PENN (12-1) VS. BEN DAVIS (13-0)
GAME TIME: 7:05 p.m. EST, Saturday, Lucas Oil Stadium.
COACHES: Cory Yeoman, 166-31 in 15th season at Penn. Mike Kirschner, 94-36 in 11th season at Ben Davis, 108-62 in 15th season overall.
LAST CONTEST: Penn beat Carmel, 34-7. Ben Davis beat Avon, 57-20.
PREVIOUS MEETING: Ben Davis, 14-10, on August 28, 2010.
DID YOU KNOW: Penn won state titles in 1983, 1995, 1996, 1997, and 2000 and finished runner-up in 1989, 1991, 1999, 2003, 2011, and 2015. Ben Davis earned state championships in 1987, 1988, 1990, 1991, 1999, 2001, 2002, and 2014 and was runner-up in 1992 and 1996.
PLAYERS TO WATCH: Zack Usenick of Penn has caught 35 passes for 621 yards and nine touchdowns. Ben Davis’ Johnny Adams has 136 carries for 1,415 yards and 16 scores.
COACH TALK: “We’ve played a lot of ballgames against each other for years and years. We’ve had some great games. There is a lot of respect from us to them and I hope they feel the same.” – Penn’s Cory Yeoman.
“Cory Yeoman is a good friend of mine. We know those guys pretty well. Great people, great program. This will be an interesting matchup.” – Ben Davis’ Mike Kirschner.