When it comes to Center Grove’s football rivalry with Ben Davis, the phrase “homefield advantage” carries little, if any, weight.
The Giants come to town Friday night having won six of eight on the Trojans’ home field since first playing there in 1999.
Equally surprising is Center Grove owning a 7-6 record in games played on Indianapolis’ westside.
Welcome to the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference’s version of running a reverse.
“It’s one of those things where you can be totally focused on the road. There are no distractions, and you feel like the underdog all of the time,” Trojans coach Eric Moore said.
“It’s always such a big-time game. They defense what we do better than just about anyone, and we always get their ‘A’ game.”
Don’t expect this to change now that Center Grove has replaced Ben Davis, a 30-27 loser at home to Pike last week, as the No. 1-ranked team in Class 6A.
The defending Class 6A state champion Giants dropped to fourth in the new poll.
Friday’s game promises to greatly factor into determining a conference champion. Having already picked up victories at Warren Central and Carmel, the Trojans sit alone atop the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference standings.
Pike and Lawrence Central are both 1-1.
Individual talent is never an issue at Ben Davis. Case in point: 5-foot-10, 173-pound tailback Chris Evans, who has committed to play at the University of Michigan. Through three games, Evans averages 6.5 yards rushing per carry and 99 a game to go along with his team-high nine receptions. He’s produced six touchdowns, with five on the ground.
Junior quarterback Azjai Cooper has thrown for 448 yards and six touchdowns. Defensive end Carlin Coleman and middle linebacker Antreaun Rice key the Giants’ defense with 24 and 23 tackles, respectively.
Ninth-year Ben Davis coach Mike Kirschner said the loss to Pike is the splash of cold water needed to get the attention of a Giants team averaging 12 penalties a game.
“We’ve been struggling with our kids to get focused. Maybe the loss will wake them up, maybe it won’t. If not, they’ll get the same result. Center Grove is really tough to play because they run Eric’s system very well,” Kirschner said.
“(Joey) Siderewicz understands what his role is as quarterback, (fullback) Titus (McCoy) is now a three-year starter, and defensively Center Grove is just never out of place.”
Since becoming the Giants’ head coach in 2007, Kirschner lost his first three games played at Center Grove but won there in 2011 and 2013.
Series: Ben Davis leads, 13-8.
Batter up: Ben Davis won the 2006 game by a score of 4-3.
Early dominance: The series began in 1998 with the Giants winning eight of the first nine regular-season games by a total score of 219-85.
Playing catch-up: Center Grove from 2007-2012 won six of the seven games.
Postseason play: The teams are 2-2 in semi-state games, including last season’s 49-45 thriller won by Ben Davis at home.