No one has to remind coach Mike Campbell about Roncalli’s football tradition.
He knows about the Rebels’ sterling postseason history and is fully aware of their capabilities heading into tonight’s Class 4A sectional championship game at Greenwood.
But Campbell knows something else: The host Woodmen are not only up for the challenge but ready to meet it head-on.
“Our kids are in a good place,” said Campbell, whose team is bidding for its first sectional title since 2005. “The coaches have done a good job of getting a game plan together. We’ve had a couple of good days of practice so far.
“We like we’re we’re at.”
Home for the first time this postseason, the Woodmen (7-4) enter with a measure of momentum. Winners of three of their past four games, they beat Beech Grove 42-25 in the sectional opener and are coming off an emotional 29-17 semifinal win at previously unbeaten 10th-ranked Northview.
But the Woodmen are not basking in the past. They are preparing for a dangerous opponent that is riding a momentum wave of its own.
Ranked in the top 10 early in the season, Roncalli stumbled to a 1-3 start, dropped out of the state poll at midseason but is now on a five-game winning streak. By virtue of that stretch, the Rebels (7-4) are in the sectional final for the 26th time in team history.
Roncalli has won 17 sectionals, 13 regionals, 11 semistates and eight state championships and is bidding for a second straight sectional title.
“We certainly understand that Roncalli is a very solid team. They’re a very good team,” Campbell said. “We understand what they want to do, and I’m sure they have a very good grasp of what we want to do.
“We’re excited for the opportunity of playing for a sectional championship.”
Greenwood has the opportunity thanks to season-long growth on both sides of the ball.
Young and largely inexperienced at the beginning of the season, the Woodmen displayed a quick learning curve and have become a mature, poised team that hurts opponents with a versatile offense and disrupts them with a swarming defense.
At first glance, Greenwood’s primary offensive strength would seem to be its ground game. Senior running back John Gallman has rushed for 1,086 yards and 11 touchdowns, and sophomore fullback Brandon Rosado has run for 658 yards and seven scores.
But the Woodmen are equally effective with the passing game.
Sophomore quarterback Seth Gallman has completed 63 of 122 passes for 1,167 yards and 13 touchdowns. Senior wide receiver Jackson Daugherty has been the primary target, having hauled in 32 catches for 832 yards, 10 touchdowns and a remarkable per-catch average of 26 yards.
Defensively, the Woodmen feature an impressive cast of playmakers led by senior linebacker Brayton England, who has team-leading totals of 129 tackles and 8.5 sacks. Daugherty, who doubles as a defensive back, has 49 tackles and a county high eight interceptions.
In addition, junior defensive back Dylan Rosado has 82 tackles, one interception and a fumble recovery (which he returned 99 yards for a touchdown to seal the win at Northview), and junior defensive A.J. Montgomery has 78 tackles and one interception.
As a unit, the Woodmen allow only 20 points per game.
“When we have a hiccup on offense, the defense has stepped up and put fires out for us,” Campbell said. “Then in games where we’ve needed to score, we’ve been able to put up some points when we’ve needed to and stem the tide after an opponent’s had a drive and answer.
“Just playing as a team and supporting each other has been our greatest attribute.”
For that, Campbell credits the coaching staff and the determination of players to position themselves for a long postseason run.
“The coaches have done a great job of getting kids to buy into what we’re doing,” Campbell said. “The kids have been receptive to it, and the coaches have done an unbelievable job of teaching our system and keeping those guys motivated.
“The two groups have done a fantastic job.”
Class 6A regional championship
No. 1 Center Grove (11-0) at No. 7 Warren Central (8-3), 7 p.m.
Class 4A sectional championship
Roncalli (7-4) at Greenwood (7-4), 7 p.m.