The tradition adjustment worked both ways for Roncalli.
With the move of Class 4A nemesis Cathedral up a division this season, the door appeared open for a senior-dominated No. 7 Rebels team to claim its first sectional crown since 2005.
Chatard, moving up from Class 3A this year, slammed that door shut Friday night. The Trojans dominated the trenches on their way to a 28-8 victory and the Sectional 22 title in a game played at Lawrence North.
“These guys gave everything they had,” Roncalli coach Bruce Scifres told a somber post-game gathering of players, families and friends. “We didn’t play a perfect game tonight, but they still gave everything.”
Indeed, it was No. 4 Chatard (9-3) that approached perfection in a game that featured heavy hitting up front between two of the area’s most storied programs before a packed house.
The Trojans sacked senior quarterback Cam Smock ten times and forced two key turnovers while playing largely mistake free.
Chatard’s Stan Jackson set the tone early. After successive sacks stopped Roncalli’s first drive at midfield, Jackson took a pitch around right end on the Trojans’ first play and went untouched 88 yards for a score.
A fumbled extra point was run into the end zone to make it 8-0.
The Rebels’ responded with their only scoring drive of the night.
Colin McManama’s 34-yard run and a face mask penalty put the ball on the Trojan 35. Seven plays later, on third-and-goal, slot back David Holtkamp took a pitch right and found quarterback Smock in the left flat for a score. McManama ran in the conversion to tie it at 8, as an overflow Rebel crowd in the visitors’ section roared its support.
The Trojans came right back, though, with Sam Jost running in from 37 yards out behind a line that produced 292 rushing yards on the night. The Rebels were limited to 88 yards on the ground.
Roncalli (8-4) could not respond against a Chatard defense that kept crowding the box to shut down the running game. Smock and Holtkamp were a collective 12 of 20 passing, but the sacks and quarterback pressures kept them off balance all night.
After halftime, the Rebels could mount only two serious drives, one that ended in a fumble and another was turned over on downs.
Meanwhile, Chatard’s running game got stronger, posting two scores to pull away.
Despite the sting, Scifres tried to focus on perspective.
“This is an extraordinary group of young men,” Scifres said. “They are extraordinary in school, in the halls, in the classroom. This is a good group with good character.”
The loss was especially painful for the coach and his son, Cal, a senior lineman.
“This is not how we wanted this night to end,” Scifres said of the team that reached as high as No. 3 in Class 4A polls during this season and had roared into the sectional championship game after dominating Mooresville and Lebanon.
“We dreamed of a state championship for this group. That is not going to happen,” Scifres said. “But this still is extraordinary group of young men.”
Chatard, three-time defending Class 3A champs, won its 37th straight sectional game and will host No. 2 New Palestine next Friday.