by Rich Torres, Special to IHSAA.org
Their journey spanned 15 weeks, involved countless in-season adversities and required some decisive second-half adjustments during the Class 3A Indiana High School Athletic Association’s football state finals Saturday inside Lucas Oil Stadium.
In the end, the sixth-ranked Bishop Chatard Trojans finished exactly where they began, defeating ninth-ranked Lawrenceburg, 34-14, for the program’s state-leading 16th championship, third in four years and 14th all-time in 3A since 1997.
The Trojans (11-4) opened the 2022 season with a 24-13 victory against Brebeuf Jesuit at Lucas Oil Stadium on Aug. 19 during the Horseshoe Classic.
They’ve spent the past three-plus months trying to get back to downtown Indianapolis, and once they returned for head coach Rob Doyle’s birthday, the Lawrenceburg Tigers (13-2) gave the Trojans all they could handle.
With the state’s top-ranked defense (6.07 points allowed per game), Lawrenceburg built an early 7-0 lead and later led 14-10 at halftime, but the Trojans responded with a dominating second half.
“We went into the locker room, with our heads on the ground, and a lot of our seniors picked us up,” Bishop Chatard junior Colin Guy said. “We came out with a better mentality.
“We never underestimate anyone, but we came in here and we thought we were going to win big, and they played a great first half. Then, we just figured out who we are: running the ball, passing the ball and playing JYD defense, Junkyard Dog.”
Guy was the catalyst in the third quarter, intercepting Tigers’ junior quarterback Logan Ahaus on second-and-10 from Lawrenceburg’s 34-yard line.
His first of two picks setup the first of three consecutive short fields for the Bishop Chatard offense, which the Trojans capitalized on with 24 unanswered points over four possessions.
“That’s a good football team. They gave us all we could handle in the first half. We made a couple of mistakes. We made some adjustments at halftime. Our defensive staff did an awesome job adjusting,” Bishop Chatard head coach Rob Doyle said. “With that, it really carried us.”
Guy’s first pick positioned the Trojans on Lawrenceburg’s 47. The Trojans marched down the field and scored on a 10-yard pass from senior quarterback Drew VanVleet to senior Aiden Duncan that capped a seven-play drive in 2 minutes, 18 seconds.
The score gave the Trojans their second and final lead of the game, 17-14, with 6:24 left in the third quarter.
Bishop Chatard finished 5-for-6 in the red zone with four touchdowns and two field goals by junior kicker Jasper Chapman. Both field goals measured 37 yards with the first supplying Chatard with a brief 10-7 advantage with 9:55 remaining until halftime.
The Tigers proved methodical in the first half – both defensively and offensively – driving 10 plays over 71 yards in 5:21 to go ahead 7-0 off an Alex Witte 31-yard rushing touchdown on the opening series.
Lawrenceburg junior Teagan Bennett rushed 22 times in the game for 124 yards, while Witte had 25 carries for 108 yards. The Tigers averaged 7.1 yards per play to open their sixth state finals appearance.
Defensively, the Tigers bent early on as the Trojans tied the game 7-7 after an eight-play, 61-yard drive that junior Luke Purichia ended with a 7-yard rushing touchdown in the first quarter.
Chapman’s first field goal on the ensuing Bishop Chatard possession made it 10-7 in the second quarter, but the Tigers’ defense locked down on the Trojans, keeping them 0-for-6 on third down until they remembered who they were in the second half.
Lawrenceburg racked up four sacks. However, the Trojans countered with three second-half interceptions, a Sam Feeney forced fumble in the first half and a fumble recovery by Jef Waugh.
“Yesterday, they played a video for us with all the past players, encouraging us all. We all knew we had to do this for them. We’re all one brotherhood, fighting for each other, getting that W for a 16th state championship,” Bishop Chatard junior Riley Kinnett said. “We needed everyone. We couldn’t had done it without everyone.”
Kinnett did his part, rushing for a pair of touchdowns at 15 and 31 yards. His first capped an 11-play drive that spanned 80 yards in 3:36 over the third and fourth quarters. The touchdown put Bishop Chatard up 24-14 and was his first since his season was disrupted due to a wrist injury.
“About 10 weeks ago yesterday, I broke my arm. It was bad. I had to go into surgery. Ever since then I’ve been recovering and cheering on my teammates, wanting to get right here,” Kinnett said. “It feels like home at this point.”
Kinnett rushed for a 9-yard touchdown against Brebeuf Jesuit the last time Bishop Chatard took the field. His third rushing touchdown inside Lucas Oil Stadium this season finalized the margin, 34-14, with 6:07 left in the game. Kinnett ran for a team-best 81 yards on 10 carries, followed by junior Luke Purichia’s 37 yards on 10 carries. Purichia, who separated his shoulder during last week’s 21-3 semi-state championship win over top-ranked West Lafayette, gritted through to compete at state.
“This has been a special year for us. It just seems like we’ve been through a lot. We had a lot of injuries. I know our coaches poured our hearts and our souls into this to make us the best we could be,” Doyle said.
“When Riley broke his wrist, we didn’t think he’d be back. There was only one shot, and it was if we made it to state,” Doyle added. “We still had to get him through rehab. He had pins in his wrist five weeks ago. Once they cleared him, we said, ‘OK, we’ll rehab him for two weeks and see if we make it.’ When we did, we were like, ‘OK, you’re going to play.’”
Guy played a game to remember in the final 24 minutes.
His second interception setup Chapman’s second 37-yard field goal in the fourth to put Bishop Chatard ahead 27-14, and his longest reception traveled 25 yards. He hauled in four receptions for a team-best 51 yards. Senior Noah Dudik had four catches for 50 yards, while VanVleet completed 16 of 20 pass attempts for 133 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
Ahaus completed 4 of 8 passes for 30 yards, threw a touchdown to Brennan Bushman and three interceptions with the final one going to Bishop Chatard junior Ryan Keating that put the Trojans 39 yards away from their final statement score.
“We had a feeling if we forced them to throw, that we would be in a great spot,” Doyle said. “That eventually happened and kind of put us over the edge. Colin is a gamer when the lights are on. You know you’re going to get his best. He made a great catch offensively, and he’s money when it counts.”
For VanVleet, the finale was a dream come true after transferring from Richmond last year and ending it as a state champion.
“This is crazy. Obviously, this was the end goal. It’s a tribute to the caliber of coaching that we have. These coaches are the best in the state,” VanVleet said. “I love this team like brothers. The defense really brought it, and it gave the offense some great field position for us to get it into the end zone. This is just hard work paying off.”
Class 3A Records
Most Field Goals (Tied): 2 by Indianapolis Bishop Chatard vs. Lawrenceburg, 2022.
Most Field Goals (Tied): 2 by Jasper Chapman, Indianapolis Bishop Chatard vs. Lawrenceburg, 2022.
Most Interceptions (Tied): 2 by Colin Guy, Indianapolis Bishop Chatard vs. Lawrenceburg, 2022.