Despite multiple semistate appearances and more than one trip to the state finals, Center Grove has had a hard time convincing skeptics it is, for want of a better term, a football powerhouse.
But maybe, just maybe, that perception will change, if it hasn’t already.
On Saturday, the Trojans accomplished what is rarely accomplished in the state’s largest class — finishing a season unbeaten.
Unprecedented in the three-year history of Class 6A, the top-ranked Trojans capped a perfect 14-0 season with a 28-16 win against Penn.
In the process, they became only fifth unbeaten state champion in the largest football class since 2001 — and earned their second state title in program history.
In total, the Trojans have been to three state finals and 10 semistates since 2000 — which by any definition would, or should, constitute being a “state power.”
Center Grove coach Eric Moore, who just completed his 17th season, needs no convincing. But he’s not certain everyone is convinced, not that he really cares.
All that matters is, the Trojans are state champions. They have an undefeated record to prove it.
“I’m just so proud. We belong here,” Moore said. His team also won the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference championship, no small feat in and of itself in what is one of the nation’s toughest football conferences.
“We beat the best teams in the state all year long in the conference, and all throughout the playoffs. Avon (in the semistate), and a great Penn team,” Moore said. “We are deserving to be 14-0 state champions.”
Indeed, they are.
Ranked No. 1 since Week 4, the Trojans took everyone’s best shot; continued winning despite injuries to key players; and, more importantly, never got wrapped up in rankings — including the host of national polls they appeared in at season’s end.
Because for the Trojans, it was never about rankings or distinctions. It was always about winning and building on a tradition that, for baffling reasons, is often overshadowed by tradition-rich programs such as Ben Davis, Carmel, Warren Central — and Penn.
But with a second state title, an MIC championship and a perfect season, the Trojans might finally have achieved “powerhouse” status. If not, quarterback Joey Siderewicz doesn’t know what else they can to attain that type of respect.
“We compete with the top (teams) every year,” he said. “We win the conference undefeated, (win) state championships. I’m not sure what else we need to do to be a powerhouse, but I definitely think we are.
“It hasn’t sunk in yet, but we know that we completed the season undefeated state champions. It’s just awesome.”
And for the Trojans, that’s all that matters. Legacies and labels will take care of themselves, so long as winning is the norm.
“According to the press up north, we’re probably not (a powerhouse),” Moore said. “But we’re a pretty darned good football program. I’ll call it a power.
“Go ahead, yeah.”