Over the summer, Center Grove football coach Eric Moore wasn’t sure what kind of defense this Trojans team would field.
Eight games in, he has a pretty good idea.
Center Grove’s 14-0 victory at Lawrence North on Friday night was the second shutout of the season; it’s the fifth time the Trojans’ defense has limited the opposition to seven or less points.
“We won ugly, and sometimes you’ve got to win ugly,” Moore said. “Our kids played hard, and our defense was awesome. On offense, we did it when we had to do it.
“It’s been a tough two-game road stand (winning last week at Pike), but we get to go home next week for senior night, so we’re excited to be home.”
The win improves the Trojans, the state’s No. 4 team in Class 6A, to 7-1 overall. They finish second in the final Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference standings with a 6-1 mark.
Warren Central by virtue of its 40-30 conquest of Carmel on Friday wrapped up the title with a 7-0 record.
Senior back Trevor Hohlt carried the football 13 times for 86 yards to lead the offense, while Russ Yeast added 68 yards rushing and a touchdown on 14 tries.
Defensively, Center Grove gave up only 184 yards of total offense on 45 plays.
Even though most the game was played between the 20-yard lines, Center Grove held a slim 7-0 lead at halftime thanks to Bailey Bennett’s 9-yard touchdown run with 58.6 seconds remaining in the second quarter.
The series was set up after Trojans linebacker Nick Arbuckle pounced on a fumble by Wildcats quarterback Jackson Hammersly after a 9-yard carry around right end.
Aided by a personal foul penalty on Lawrence North, the Trojans marched 48 yards in seven plays for the game’s initial points.
Center Grove’s insurance points were scored by Yeast on a 5-yard touchdown run up the middle with 8:29 remaining in the fourth period.
Lawrence North drove the football as deep as the Trojans’ 21 on the ensuing possession, but, again, it was the defense that had the final say.
On fourth down, Center Grove defenders Logan Bontrager and Cole Williams stuffed the Wildcats’ ball carrier behind the line of scrimmage with only 2:44 to play.
Entering Friday’s regular-season finale against Cathedral, the Trojans are surrendering an average of 9.5 points.
“It’s not a surprise because we’ve got good, tough kids,” Moore said. “They play hard. It’s their chance to play and they’re making the most of it.”