Eric Moore has coached 203 games since becoming the head football coach at Center Grove High School.
He remembers the 13th like it was yesterday.
The Trojans’ 10-9 decision at home against a tradition-laden Carmel program in Week 3 of the 2000 season made believers out of doubters locally and throughout central Indiana.
A southside program not known for football soon would be.
“This game will always hold a special place in my heart. This school when I got here, people told me Carmel is the measuring stick,” said Moore, whose squad, ranked second in Class 6A, travels to Class 6A No. 4 Carmel on Friday in the 18th annual Copper Kettle game.
“In two years we accomplished what should have taken a lifetime,” Moore said. “It showed the people in this community that we do belong in this (Metropolitan Interscholastic) Conference. Quit making excuses and just get better.”
Which the Trojans did, defeating the Greyhounds three consecutive seasons — 2001 to 2003 by a combined score of 95-43 — after what Moore refers to as the most-important win in the program’s history.
The Greyhounds hold an 11-6 advantage in the Copper Kettle series, with three different head coaches taking part — Keith Fiedler, Mo Moriarty and Kevin Wright.
Former Carmel player John Hebert, a 1989 graduate and the program’s former defensive coordinator, is about to make his Copper Kettle debut as first-year head coach.
Meanwhile, Moore has been in charge of Center Grove’s program in all but one (1998) of the meetings with Carmel. This includes the Trojans’ thrilling 36-33 come-from-behind win in the 2008 Class 5A title game and their 21-17 loss at semistate three years later.
Hebert is the ninth head football coach in Carmel High School history.
“John is a Greyhound. He played there, he coached there. It’s Carmel. They’re always going to be good,” Moore said.
The Greyhounds’ first two games have been on the road with mixed results — a 28-7 victory at Hamilton Southeastern and last Friday’s 35-28 loss to Cincinnati LaSalle at the University of Cincinnati’s Nippert Stadium.
Among the key players for Carmel are 6-foot-2, 215-pound senior outside linebacker Noah Burks; quarterback Michael Viktrup; and running back Tobias Watkins.
Burks is a four-star recruit who in June verbally committed to the University of Wisconsin. A dual-threat quarterback, Viktrup at 6-foot, 200 pounds, committed to play at Air Force.
“They run the football a little more than they have in the past,” Moore said of the ’Hounds. “A huge team, but with great speed.”
Through two games, Center Grove averages 298 yards rushing as a team and 5.6 per carry.
Junior Titus McCoy leads the way with 290 yards and five touchdowns, while senior wingback Jackson Hohlt has rushed for 180 yards and a score.
Senior quarterback Joey Siderewicz is a perfect 14 of 14 through the air this season for 216 yards and three touchdowns. His top receivers have been senior split end Zak Smith and sophomore tight end Cory Heinrichs with three catches each.
Defensively, tackle Jovan Swann leads the way with 12 tackles, with half that number being for loss. Linebacker Jackson Sodrel and safety Connor Steeb are next with 10 tackles apiece.
Moore’s first 16 seasons as Trojans coach produced six 3-0 records to open the season. Producing a seventh won’t be easy in a series in which 10 of the 17 games were decided by seven or fewer points (not counting the two postseason matchups, which makes it 12 of 19).
It is, after all, the Copper Kettle.
Carmel owns an 11-6 advantage in the series dating back to the 1998 high school football season:
1998 – Carmel 28, Center Grove 25
1999 – Carmel 26, Center Grove 23
2000 – Center Grove 10, Carmel 9
2001 – Center Grove 26, Carmel 13
2002 – Center Grove 42, Carmel 10
2003 – Center Grove 27, Carmel 20
2004 – Carmel 25, Center Grove 21
2005 – Carmel 35, Center Grove 17
2006 – Carmel 49, Center Grove 7
2007 – Center Grove 32, Carmel 31*
2008 – Carmel 33, Center Grove 32
2009 – Carmel 17, Center Grove 14
2010 – Carmel 21, Center Grove 14
2011 – Carmel 42, Center Grove 17
2012 – Carmel 31, Center Grove 21
2013 – Center Grove 35, Carmel 26
2014 – Carmel 21, Center Grove 14