Trojans’ March To State Finals Must Go Through The Woodmen
By Mike Perleberg
East Central quarterback Alex Maxwell looks to lead the Trojans to a win in the state semifinals on Friday, November 17. Photo by Mike Perleberg, Eagle Country 99.3.
(St. Leon, Ind.) – East Central is just two wins away from a state championship.
“We know chances like this are special and that we need to make the most of this moment,” East Central head coach Justin Roden says.
The Trojans think they have a great shot at winning the 4A state title, especially after their 35-13 manhandling of third-ranked Evansville Central last Friday night for the program’s eighth regional championship.
The regional win marked perhaps the best performance of junior quarterback Alex Maxwell’s career, as he ran for 187 yards and four touchdowns behind an offensive line which has steadily improved over the course of the season.
“As I stated to begin this year, the O-line would be rough to begin with and it was. Their growth is a result of a few personnel changes and experience,” says Roden. “In addition, after the week nine loss to Chatard, we inserted 6’5” freshman Luke Collinsworth at tackle and really have been on a roll since. This group grows in confidence each week. The exciting part is that all six of them return next season.”
Last week, East Central’s defense and special teams created turnovers. Defensive lineman Keegan Gindling may be the most important piece, along with seasoned veterans at linebacker, Roden says. They are young at other positions on the defensive side.
“We currently start three sophomores and a freshman on defense. Each week is another opportunity for them to improve. Plus each rep in practice is key. Sometimes our practices can be more intense then the games. In addition, I think we have finally found the right personnel back there,” says Roden.
Now it is on to the state semifinals this Friday night. Eighth-ranked EC (10-3) hosts their fourth consecutive postseason home game. The 18th-ranked Greenwood Woodmen (11-2) pay a visit to Trojan Field for a 7:00 p.m. kickoff. Eagle Country 99.3 will broadcast the game live, with coverage starting at 6:40 p.m.
In order to win, Roden says, the Trojans will need to play much like they did last week: control the football and the clock.
Greenwood brags a dual-threat quarterback in senior Seth Gallman, who will look to keep the Trojans’ defense guessing.
“He can beat you with his arm and his elusiveness when running the ball,” says Roden. “He has been a worry since the first film we watched Saturday. In addition they have a stable of hard-nosed running backs, who punish you on every tackle. Nick Willham, Brandon Rosado and Anthony Williams are throwback runners who embrace contact and block very well. Their TE Conner Battinau makes them very hard to defend. He is a major factor in the play action passing game and in the redzone. We need to know where he is on every play. Also, look for their wide receivers to stretch the field in the passing game. The offensive line plays a style very similar to us and again embodies their hard nose style of football.”
Like the Trojans, Greenwood’s defense loves to be physical and in-your-face. The Woodmen D is led by linebackers Bryce Taylor and Tim Johns and lineman Nick Young.
There is some postseason history between East Central and Greenwood. East Central has won three of four sectional game meetings in 2014, 2010, 2009, and 2002.
“Our boys will play hard Friday and make St. Leon proud,” says Roden.
— East Central HS (@EastCentralHS) November 17, 2017