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Central Catholic rides defense to 13-3 win over Sheridan

November 21, 2012
Lafayette Central Catholic High School

Central Catholic senior Ross Corcoran was once just another freshman absorbing the excitement of a state championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium.

Three years later, the Knights linebacker remembered a conversation with classmates Brad Schrader and Patrick Mackey during CC’s 2009 victory over Fountain Central.

“I looked over at Brad and Patrick and said, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to get a couple of these,’ ” Corcoran said. “We’ve got one more to get.”

Thanks to its Corcoran-led defense, three-time defending state champion Central Catholic is one victory closer to further embellishing its historic state championship run. The Knights defeated Sheridan 13-3 at Bud Wright Stadium on Friday to win their fourth straight Class A semistate and return to the state finals.

Central Catholic, which gets a rematch with Scecina in the title game, can join Warren Central (2003-06) as the only program to win four straight state titles. The Knights defeated Scecina 38-7 in last year’s Class A championship.

“We knew it was going to be a dogfight tonight. We knew we had to bring everything we had,” Central Catholic senior receiver Timmy Mills said. “It’s a great feeling to know we’re going back to what some people call our second home to defend our state championship run.”

For the second straight week, a Central Catholic opponent dominated first-quarter possession and grabbed an early lead. Sheridan’s Mike Burnell kicked a 22-yard field goal to put the Blackhawks up 3-0 late in the first quarter.

The game turned when an Andrew Hubertz punt pinned Sheridan (9-5) at its own 4 early in the second quarter, and Central Catholic forced a three-and-out. Five plays later, Will Jones ran in a 9-yard touchdown to put the Knights up 6-3.

Sheridan responded by driving to the CC 4, but Corcoran stopped Sheridan running back Austin Hoover for no gain, and Matt Thieme swatted away a Sam Zachery pass. The Blackhawks settled for another Burnell field goal try, which missed wide, and Central Catholic had a halftime lead and some momentum.

“If we score a touchdown, I think that might have been a key for us,” said Sheridan coach Larry “Bud” Wright, who was coaching for his 11th semistate championship. “But we didn’t do it. They rose to the occasion and stopped us, and we just didn’t get the opportunity after that to get in position to score.”

Sheridan was able to pressure Central Catholic junior quarterback Ty Preston in the first half, resulting in a 2-for-7 passing performance. But he found a groove with favorite receiver Timmy Mills in the third quarter, finding him four times on a nine-play, 84-yard touchdown drive.

The back breaker was a play-action strike over the middle that Mills hauled in for a 31-yard touchdown reception, putting CC up 13-3.

“We calmed (Preston) down a little bit and said, ‘Hey, you’re fine, we’re up by three. Just put it up there,’ ” said Mills, who caught all six of Preston’s completions for 75 yards. “ ‘You’ve got to get more air on it so I can get underneath it.’ That’s what he did and it came up big when we needed it.”

Hoover carried 23 times for 118 yards in the first half as Sheridan used its stout backs and sizable line to target smaller Central Catholic defenders. Knights coach Kevin O’Shea said a big adjustment was inserting 6-foot-2, 185-pound sophomore Joe Corcoran at outside linebacker.

That larger body helped plug up the Blackhawks running game, with Joe Corcoran turning ballcarriers back toward his older brother and Sam Kochert for tackles. Ross Corcoran was unofficially credited with 21 tackles, Hoover totaled 56 second-half yards, and Sheridan did not cross the Central Catholic 48 in the second half.

“They had some real heavy running backs that just came at you,” said Ross Corcoran, with red marks on the bridge of his nose and forehead attesting to the game’s physical tone. “They love to hit and they love to play physical football, and I guess we do too.”

Central Catholic extended its postseason winning streak to 23 games. That tied the Class A record Sheridan set from 2005-08.

Despite graduating wingback Danny Anthrop, now playing at Purdue, and quarterback Austin Munn, among others, the Knights will continue their traditional Thanksgiving week routines.

“It blows me away,” O’Shea said. “It is awesome what these kids were able to accomplish.”

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