Chatard football beats West Lafayette for sectional championship

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Patrick Felts, Sports Editor

In their first season as a part of sectional 28, the Trojans are its champions.

The Bishop Chatard Trojans defeated the defending 3A IHSAA state champion West Lafayette Red Devils at home 42-14 to clinch the 3A Sectional 28 championship. 

Throughout the course of the season, the Trojans and Red Devils have been near the top of the 3A rankings. Although most major rankings had the Trojans in the top spot heading into the game, the Red Devils were ranked second by many and were ranked first by some before losing to Lewis Cass in the final week of the regular season.

The Trojans entered the game at 10-1 and riding a 6-game win streak. Their first two sectional wins came on the road against Brebeuf Jesuit and North Montgomery, making the matchup with West Lafayette the first Trojan home game of the playoffs.

The Red Devils came into the game 9-2 and boasting one of the most electric offenses in Indiana, averaging over 51 points per game. The 14 points scored against the Trojans were the fewest for West Lafayette in a season that included games of 73 and 66 points. Their second lowest total of the season came last week in their nail biting 34-31 win over Guerin Catholic.

The game was won and lost on 4th-down plays. Given the increased stakes of the game, West Lafayette tried to get the most out of every drive by trying for touchdowns instead of settling for field goals or punting. The Trojan defense was prepared, and the Red Devils were successful on just one out of five 4th-down conversion attempts, including two stops in the red zone. 

In addition, the Trojans forced a punt and a three and out on the first Red Devil possession of the game. BCHS blocked the ensuing punt giving the Trojans the ball on the West Lafayette 30-yard line. Senior defensive tackle George Assalley said, “It was vital to our win. Their team was good about ball security and were a very aggressive offensive team, so we needed to force a turnover on downs whenever we could.”

On offense, the message was simple: run the ball. On 53 carries, the Trojans rushed for a total of 403 yards and all six of their touchdowns, only passing the ball seven times all night. The bulk of the production came from the senior running back duo of Daylen Taylor and Derion Gilbert. Gilbert said, “Me and Daylen [Taylor] kept it rolling all night, but I have to give it up to our offensive line. Without them, we couldn’t have done it.”

The atmosphere surrounding this game was different than any other game this season. With the records and reputations of the teams and stakes of a playoff game, it was one that players and fans alike had been anticipating for weeks. Players on both sides were emotional after every big play, including senior defensive lineman Timmy McNelis. McNelis and his teammates had been pressuring the quarterback all night long, and McNelis finally got the sack in the fourth quarter. He said, “I was freaking out out there. It was a huge morale boost to our whole defense to finally get to him.”

With the 2019 sectional championship in the rear view mirror, the Trojans march on to regional play, where they will head northeast to Fort Wayne face off with the Cadets of Concordia Lutheran. The 7-5 Cadets won its sectional championship on the road against Peru 56-6. Gilbert added, “We are going to take it week by week. We need to take care of business on the road, and hopefully we’ll be in Lucas Oil Stadium for state in three weeks.”