Teams playing Center Grove this football season know about No. 45 in the red and white jersey hours before kickoff.
Better make that days.
The Trojans’ 6-foot-2, 215-pound defensive end has spent the past two seasons building himself a reputation for bringing opposing ball carriers down behind the line of scrimmage.
Devoid of the two Division I players that anchored Center Grove’s defense in 2015, this season’s unit has performed with as much consistency as tenacity.
Ranked No. 3 in Class 6A, the Trojans are giving up an average of 10.9 points a game.
“Personally, I haven’t made any changes. It’s really about doing my job and leading the guys,” Dan Root said. “I think a lot of the younger guys respect the older guys who have been there before.
“We’re coached well. We go out there and work as a unit. It’s not just one guy out there making all the plays. It’s a total team effort.”
Root, who has played all but one game this season — he sat out the 43-0 win at Whiteland in Week 2 due to a mild concussion — leads the team in sacks with 4.5. He’s fifth in tackles with 33.5 and also has a pass deflection.
A good student (3.1 grade-point average), Root is being looked at by Marian University, the University of Indianapolis and the University of St. Francis (in Fort Wayne).
“Last year we’ve got Jovan Swann and Cam Tidd, and as good as they were Dan Root was on the other side,” Moore said. “Statistically, he was as good as they were. Probably better statistically because (offenses) ran toward him.
“Dan is very mature for a high school football player. His No. 1 thing is his motor. He has great speed and great strength. A very smart kid and very coachable. I look for great things from Dan down the road, because I think he can be a hybrid linebacker or a safety at the next level. He can play about anywhere.”
The top priority for Root these days is helping to get Center Grove back to Lucas Oil Stadium for the 6A state championship game.
“I’m happy with how we’ve played this season, but not satisfied,” Root said. “Winning a state championship is the No. 1 goal.”
THE ROOT FILE
Name: Dan Root
Family: Parents, Scott and Laura; brother, Chris, 20
Favorite TV show: “SportsCenter”
Favorite food: Steak
Favorite movie: “Step Brothers”
Favorite athlete: J.J. Watt
Favorite team: University of Michigan football