Semistate appearances are nothing new for the Center Grove football team.
The Trojans have had such appearances six times in the past seven years.
Then again, semistate disappointment is nothing new for Center Grove, either.
The Trojans have fallen short in all but one of those trips.
But no matter.
What matters is the here and now. And right here, right now, the Trojans have no equal. They’ve played the best, vanquished the best and are two wins away from proving they are the best.
Guarantees? There aren’t any. But as the Trojans prepare for Friday’s semistate showdown against visiting Avon, you get the sense they are about to seize a special moment.
They are unbeaten. They are ranked No. 1. They’ve taken everyone’s best shot. And they are poised to do what no Class 6A team has ever done: win an undefeated state championship.
Again, nothing is guaranteed, but the stars seem aligned in their favor as they make their seventh semistate appearance in the past eight years.
Without question, the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference is, by far, the best in the state. It’s one of the best in the country. Any and every opponent can deal a loss on any given Friday night.
Yet none dealt one to the Trojans. They ran both the conference and nonconference table during the regular season and are coming off a convincing regional win against No. 7 Warren Central — their second of the fall against the traditional state power Warriors.
True, that in and of itself means nothing heading into Friday night. None of the past does. But the Trojans’ perfection against a remarkably brutal schedule does indicate they are not prone to letdowns, complacency or over-confidence. They’ve had to rally at times, fix mistakes and hang on for a few white-knuckle rides.
But each time, the Trojans prevailed.
Most times, they did so easily.
How do they do it?
With an explosive offense that can score at any time from anywhere, on any down, with any number of offensive weapons.
With a swarming defense that can shut down any offense at critical times, with playmakers at every position.
With an efficient special teams that excels in the kicking and punting games.
And with a tournament-tested head coach who already has guided the Trojans to two state finals, including a dramatic championship in 2008, and whose staff always has them ready against any and all challengers.
To date, it’s added up to a 12-0 record, a No. 1 ranking and a rare opportunity to make history.
Again, there are no guarantees. Sixth-ranked Avon (10-2) is a formidable semistate opponent. But the host Trojans haven’t performed like a team primed for a fall.
Quite the opposite.
They’ve taken everyone’s best shot, risen to every challenge and played like a team on a mission.
Can’t imagine they’ll change course now.
Here’s betting they don’t.