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Central Catholic rolls to fourth straight sectional title

November 4, 2012
Lafayette Central Catholic High School

After 21 consecutive state tournament victories and three straight state championships, a sectional championship could seem underwhelming or expected.

Central Catholic’s football players took nothing for granted in the Sectional 34 championship game against Pioneer on Friday night.

“Every day, we come out and we know that the sectional championship is the first stepping stone of winning a state championship,” CC senior receiver Timmy Mills said. “Throughout the four years, we’ve had the great honor of going all the way, and we look to repeat again.”

Class A No. 1 Central Catholic won its fourth sectional title in as many years with authority on Friday, blowing past No. 4 Pioneer 38-7 at LaRocca Field.

The Knights (11-1) travel to Winamac (9-3) for next week’s regional. The Warriors, who have never played Central Catholic, upended No. 8 West Central 49-13 in the Sectional 33 championship.

Mills totaled 135 yards on nine receptions, Brad Schrader and Will Jones each ran for a pair of touchdowns, and the Knights shut out Pioneer’s prolific offense. Central Catholic was one of seven teams statewide to win at least its fourth straight sectional title.

“It’s our dream,” said Jones, who also recovered two loose balls on special teams inside the Pioneer 20. “It’s what we’ve wanted since we were in fourth grade. We’ve been playing together, most of us, since then, and that’s all we wanted.”

Central Catholic quarterback Ty Preston connected with Mills for third-down passes of 18 and 35 yards on the game’s opening drive. Jones’ 10-yard touchdown run put CC on the board.

When a Pioneer player mishandled the ensuing Matt Bouggy kickoff, Jones recovered the loose ball at the Pioneer 20. Bouggy’s 18-yard field goal made it 10-0, and before the end of the quarter, Schrader’s 4-yard touchdown run put the Knights up by 17.

“Our defense was able to calm down and just play our normal defense,” said CC cornerback Joe Smith, who made a drive-ending fourth-down tackle, intercepted a pass and stripped away a fumble. “We didn’t have to worry about shutting them down or anything, because we already had a big lead early.”

Central Catholic led 24-0 before Pioneer’s Matthew Dorris returned the opening kickoff of the second half 85 yards for a touchdown. When the Panthers forced CC to punt from its own 46, they had a chance to cut even further into the deficit.

Instead, freshman Sam Kiser fumbled the punt return, and Jones recovered at the Pioneer 19. Schrader plunged in from 2 yards out five plays later, and the Panthers never again drove inside the CC 40.

“You can’t turn the ball over and give those guys a short field, or they’re going to pour it on and make you pay for it,” Pioneer coach Mike Johnson said.

Central Catholic defeated Pioneer en route to each of its four straight sectional titles — twice in the finals and twice in the opening round.

The Panthers, who had won 10 straight, never threatened CC’s big lead with their run-based Wing-T offense. Pioneer senior running back Joey Miller, who came in averaging 8.1 yards per carry, totaled 99 on his 21 attempts.

Central Catholic countered with a balanced offense as Preston completed six of his first eight passes and Jones totaled 109 yards on 10 touches.

“It’s a nightmare,” Johnson said. “You’ve got to kind of pick your poison what you’re going to give them.”

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