Bad Boys Are Best: East Central Trojans Capture Second Football State Championship
By Mike Perleberg
East Central team captains (left to right) Jayden Williamson, Alex Maxwell, Logan Storie, and Keegan Gindling with the IHSAA 4A State Championship Trophy after the Trojans won the championship game over Lowell, 14-7, on Saturday, November 25 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Photo by Eric Thomas, Eagle Country 99.3.
(Indianapolis, Ind.) – East Central needed special performances by their stars, and a few other role players, in order to pull off an upset of top-ranked and undefeated Lowell in the IHSAA 4A State Championship Game on Saturday.
The 9th-ranked Trojans did just that in defeating the Red Devils 14-7 in a thrilling game at Lucas Oil Stadium that ended with EC capturing the program’s second state championship – it’s first since 1994.
Tied at 7-7 through three quarters, the game-winning drive for East Central ended with 2:02 on the clock as East Central junior quarterback Alex Maxwell ran it in from six yards out to break the tie. Kicker Cayden Browndyke added his second extra point of the evening to make it 14-7.
“I knew it was going to be tough. They had been stopping the run all game. I can’t say enough about my guys. They just kept pounding and we were able to bust a couple there on that last drive. I’m just so proud of my offensive line – I love those guys so much. I’m proud of Logan Storie. I’m proud of all my teammates,” Maxwell told Eagle Country 99.3 after the game.
Maxwell was 6/11 passing for 65 yards and a touchdown, while also running for a game-high 88 yards.
East Central quarterback Alex Maxwell crosses the goal line with 2:02 left in the 4th quarter to give the Trojans a 14-7 lead they would not relinquish. Photo by Eric Thomas, Eagle Country 99.3.
As Lowell was driving in an attempt to tie the game inside the final two minutes, EC junior cornerback Nathan Lloyd picked off an Ethan Igras pass near the Trojan 25-yard line to essentially seal the victory.
It was the second pick of the evening for Lloyd, who also made a clutch play to intercept an Igras pass in the EC end zone with about a minute left to play in the second quarter.
“I called game on that. As a team we are on top of the world,” Lloyd said after the game.
The 4A championship game lived up to its billing as a meeting of two hard-nosed, running teams. East Central gathered only 207 yards of offense compared to Lowell’s 288. But it was the red-and-black team from southeastern Indiana who played the better game. Lowell turned it over three times, two of them picks by Lloyd and an EC fumble recovery.
East Central played perhaps its cleanest game of the season, committing just two penalties for 10 yards. Lowell committed four penalties for 30 yards, one of them an offsides on a 38-yard field goal attempt by EC that revived a Trojans drive that ended with the first EC score of the evening in the second quarter, a 13-yard pass from Maxwell to his favorite target, senior tight end Justin Brown.
Maxwell was asked to play extra roles on special teams and defense in the title game as starting sophomore safety Devon Donawerth was withheld from the game by IHSAA rules due to a controversial targeting call from the Trojans’ semi-state victory over Greenwood. He made several tackles in both phases.
EC’s leading rusher, Logan Storie, capped off his senior season with 14 carries for 28 yards against a stingy Lowell defense. He also caught three passes for 21 yards.
“(Lowell) just kept coming. But we were able to slowly break them down and slowly get into the end zone. Our defense helped us out with some key picks. It was just great,” Storie reflected.
Storie gave props to his offensive line for their improved play as the season progressed.
The IHSAA 4A State Championship Trophy was not the only hardware East Central brought home to St. Leon on Saturday. Senior linebacker Jayden Williamson was named the IHSAA’s Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award Winner for 4A football after the game. Nominated by his coaches and principal Kim Simonson, Williamson received a $1,000 scholarship from the Indianapolis Colts.
Photo by Eric Thomas, Eagle Country 99.3.
— IHSAA (@IHSAA1) November 25, 2017
— IHSAA (@IHSAA1) November 25, 2017
— Eagle Country 99.3 (@eagle993) November 26, 2017
Here come the Trojans! Let’s go, boys! pic.twitter.com/eMlte4HI43
— Andrew Jackson (@SDCS_SUPER) November 25, 2017