Cathedral High School is the state’s all-time winningest high school football program with 703 victories dating back to 1919.
Center Grove isn’t close. However, from 1999-2014 the Trojans averaged 9.2 victories per season and advanced to nine semistates.
Tradition old vs. tradition new.
No conference ties nor decades-long rivalry bind the programs, yet a level of intrigue not previously present now connects Cathedral and Center Grove as they prepare for Friday night’s game.
With the Irish elevated to Class 6A because of the IHSAA’s success rule — Cathedral won the past two 5A state titles — it’s entirely possible these programs could meet in the semistate Nov. 13.
“As we’re progressing forward and we might play Center Grove down the road, how do we play this game?” Cathedral coach Rick Streiff said. “It will be interesting to see how (Center Grove coach) Eric (Moore) plays it, too.”
Center Grove wrapped up an undisputed Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference championship with last week’s win against Lawrence North.
Ranked No. 1 in Class 6A, the Trojans are 8-0 for only the second time in Moore’s 17 seasons. The 2007 squad was unbeaten going into Week 9, lost a 28-21 decision at Warren Central and two weeks later was bounced from the Class 5A sectional courtesy of a 23-7 loss to Columbus North.
Moore’s current team opens sectional play Oct. 23 at Columbus North (6-2), ranked 10th in the latest Class 6A poll.
The difference this time around is a win against Cathedral gives the Trojans its first undefeated regular season since 1975. Therefore, anticipate Center Grove’s best effort and best players as opposed to resting some starters in an attempt to ensure postseason success.
Last season’s 44-38 victory against the Irish marked the first time in 22 seasons the teams had played. The Trojans bolted to a 19-0 advantage early, lost the lead, regained it and hung on for the win to finish the regular season 6-3.
With Cathedral ranked No. 4 in Class 6A, Moore wouldn’t be surprised to witness the same type of drama this time around.
“Playing a program like Cathedral really tops off the (regular) season. I honestly don’t know if the players buy into all of their tradition the way parents and old-timers do. They know they’ve won state championships but don’t dwell on it,” Moore said.
“Cathedral is fast, physical on defense and probably runs the football as well as anyone we’ve played. It’s just a good football program. It’s hard to find a weakness.”
The Irish average 211.7 yards a game on the ground, with sophomore Markese Stepp averaging just under half that sum. Senior quarterback Max Bortenschlager, a 6-foot-3 University of Buffalo commitment, is an accomplished passer good for 134 yards per game through the air.
Center Grove quarterback Joey Siderewicz has completed 55 of 78 passes this season for 703 yards, six scores and no interceptions. Junior back Titus McCoy has rushed for 1,159 yards and 16 touchdowns.
Last season’s game included Siderewicz hitting 7 of 10 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns; McCoy rushed for 128 yards on only nine carries.
“For us playing Center Grove is a measuring tool, a win-win all around for us. They give you a different look, and they’re not one-dimensional at all. Their passing game last year snuck up on us as much as anything,” Streiff said.
“We actually played Center Grove in the early 1990s, but their school was dramatically different than it is today. It’s good for the players because it’s a really tough place to play. Their atmosphere makes it difficult on us, which is good.”
703 victories (most ever in Indiana)
20 sectional titles
12 state championships since 1973 (6 in Class 3A, 12 in 4A and 2 in 5A)
155-54 record (.742) since 1999
10 sectional championships
9 regional titles
2008 state champion (5A)