FB 2A FINAL: Four straight for #5 FW Luers in 40-28 win over #1 Ritter
November 24, 2012By E. Shawn Aylsworth of Hoosier Authority
INDIANAPOLIS – Fifth-ranked Fort Wayne Luers bolted to a 27-0 lead and then staved off a stirring comeback by top-ranked Indianapolis Ritter to collect a 40-28 victory in the Class 2A championship game Nov. 23 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
CHECK OUT THE VIDEO PLAYER TO THE RIGHT OF THE HOME PAGE FOR A PLETHORA OF POSTAGME INTERVIEWS AND GAME HIGHLIGHTS, PLUS THE PHOTO GALLERY FROM JIM HUNT!
It marked the fourth consecutive title for Luers, which ties a state record. Warren Central won four straight championships in Class 5A from 2003-06, while Lafayette Central Catholic captured its fourth straight in the Class A title game earlier in the day.
Luers also tied Indianapolis Chatard with 11 state football titles overall. Bishop Chatard will have an opportunity to extend the mark to 12 in the Class 3A championship game Saturday against Hamilton Heights.
Coach Steve Keefer’s Knights (11-4) went on top 27-0 late in the second quarter and held a 27-7 halftime lead. But coach Ty Hunt’s Ritter Raiders (14-1) weren’t finished, cutting the deficit to 27-21 with 10:38 left in the fourth quarter.
Four touchdowns by senior wide recover Jake Hagan – three on receptions and one on a 38-yard punt return – and some strong passing by junior Jake Purichia (19 for 34 for 238 yards and scoring strikes of 16, 35, and 15 yards to Hagan) led Ritter back.
Senior running back Jaylon Smith – a Notre Dame commit who’s also a mainstay at linebacker on defense – rushed 21 times for 150 yards and three scores. His 16-yard touchdown run with 2:36 left in the game provided his team with breathing room.
Luers amassed 424 total yards – including a whopping 311 on the ground – and 24 first downs compared with 19 first downs and 325 yards for Ritter.
The Raiders’ early power outage was a rare occurrence in 2012 as the team came in averaging 50.9 points a game.
A pair of Class 2A state finals records were set in the high-scoring Friday nightcap that surprisingly stood at 0-0 after the first quarter: 19 rushing first downs by Luers and the three receiving TDs by Hagen, who totaled 138 yards. The latter also tied the overall state finals record.
Ritter’s Sweeney named Eskew Mental Attitude Award winner
Joseph Sweeney of Indianapolis Ritter was selected by members of the IHSAA Executive Committee as this year’s winner of the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award in Class 2A football. Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, the IHSAA’s corporate partner, presented a scholarship check for $1,000 to the school in his name.
Since 1989, more than $745,000 in college scholarships has been presented by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance to deserving high school students in Indiana. The award, named in honor of the IHSAA’s third commissioner who served from 1962-76, is presented annually to a senior in each classification who best demonstrates excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership, and athletic ability.
Sweeney ranks second in his senior class of 120 students, has been a four-year member of the football team at offensive tackle, and also competes in track & field for the Raiders. He is a National Merit semifinalist, a member of the National Honor Society, and a Colts Academic All-State Team member.
Additionally, he’s been a team captain of Ritter’s Brain Game squad that won the 2011 state championship and finished as the 2012 state runner-up.
The son of Pat and Alice Sweeney of Indianapolis plans to study engineering but is undecided on his college choice at this time.
Finally, some postgame quotes:
Fort Wayne Luers coach Steve Keefer
“The difference in the game was our senior leadership and intensity. These guys have been here before, and they know what it’s all about. Ritter gave us some shots in the second half and we staggered a bit, but we came back and finished strong.”
“We executed well in the first half and played good, hard-nosed defense. In the second half, we had some penalties and blown assignments and we let them back in the game. They’ve got some good receivers and a quarterback – you’re not going to shut down a team like them.”
“We got great senior leadership. The 24 seniors, we called them together in the fourth quarter and challenged them and they came through. Our message all year long has been ‘Don’t look back – look forward, and be positive.’ These players bought into that.”
(On winning his second state championship) “The good thing is that I can retire again.”
“I’ve been coaching at Luers for many years. When I stepped in as head coach (replacing nine-time state champion coach Matt Lindsay in mid-season), most of these kids played for me as freshmen. Some of these guys on the coaching staff played for me. We’re just one family, and we all buy in to the Luers football tradition.”
“My goal was to get these kids back here, and their goal was to get back here. They stayed positive and kept focused, and we had a great effort tonight.”
Indianapolis Ritter coach Ty Hunt
(Down 28-0, what did you tell your team at halftime?) “We knew we were going to be in a fight from the start, and at halftime we told them to strap it up and that we were going to fight for all four quarters. That’s what we did. We wanted to go out fighting for all four quarters, and I’m proud of them for that. We fought to the end.”
“I give a lot of credit to (quarterback) Jake Purichia and our receiving corps and offensive line. We knew the (slow start) was only temporary. We wish there had been a few more minutes on the board.”
(On receiver Jake Hagan’s four TDs) “He’s a junior coming back, and that’s a good thing. His attitude is that he’s never out of it, and in situations like we were in, he wants the ball. He made some unbelievable catches.”
(On Mental Attitude Award winner Joe Sweeney) “He’s looking at Cornell and some other East Coast schools. Obviously a great kid. We try to share him as much as we can with all the academic activities he’s involved with. Very happy for him.”
“We will let this one settle in before we start thinking about next year. This meant so much to our seniors and we’ll take a few days, put this one away, and then look to our juniors for leadership.”
(On leading receiver Alex Parrett, who had four receptions for just 27 yards) “Alex blew out his ACL (knee) last week against Evansville Mater Dei. They said it would be possible to put a brace on it and see if he could play, and boy, did he. Pretty courageous.”
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