A lot of football games can be won averaging 8.4 yards a play. At the same time, conjuring up 2.6 per snap from center carries a much lower rate of success.
Johnson County rivals Center Grove and Whiteland were on opposite sides of the statistical fence Friday night, as the Trojans lived up to their No. 2 ranking in Class 6A with a 56-0 victory.
Having now dispatched of the Warriors by a total of 145 points in three Week 2 contests dating back to 2011, Center Grove (2-0) turns its attention to next week’s Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference slugfest at Class 6A No. 4 Carmel.
Coach Eric Moore’s program hasn’t won at the Hamilton County stadium since defeating the Greyhounds, 32-31, in a wild double-overtime affair in 2007.
“It’s our time. That’s been our theme all year,” said Moore. “There’s no intimidation. We’ve been hoof-to-hoof with them for a long time.”
The Trojans displayed no letdown whatsoever against Whiteland following their emotional season-opening 21-10 triumph at Warren Central. Center Grove thoroughly dominated the line of scrimmage, a reality that had Warriors coach Darrin Fisher reaching for any positive he could locate.
“We got outplayed. It’s as simple as that. Every phase. Every position. Everything,” said Fisher, whose squad drops to 1-1 with Decatur Central paying a visit next Friday. “The only way that this ... if it drives you to never let it happen again, then it’s a positive.”
By evening’s end, Center Grove’s Wing-T offense had piled up 444 yards on 53 plays. Of that, 316 yards came via the ground game as Moore was able to use a total of 13 ball carriers. Senior quarterback Luke Calvert threw for 93 yards and three touchdowns, all in the first half as the hosts rolled to a 35-0 halftime cushion.
“We wanted to get after it pretty quick. You let teams hang around in this type of heat, and anything can happen,” said Moore. “I was afraid of a letdown, but our kids didn’t. You have to keep moving forward every week and keep finding things to improve on.”
Center Grove’s dominant first-half performance resulted in a yardage discrepancy of 235-43.
The first of Calvert’s touchdown passes came when he connected with fullback Lane Morris in the right flat. The senior took it from there, racing down the right sideline for a 43-yard score at 9:10 of the opening quarter.
Whiteland responded with a three-and-out, which gave the Trojans the ball back at their own 40. Eight plays later, and this time it was senior Matt O’Brien hauling in a 15-yard strike from Calvert to make it a 14-0 advantage.
The home squad’s next trip to paydirt was set up when senior defensive back Alex Auckerman smothered a fumble by Whiteland senior Jeffrey Wooten at the Warriors’ 30 only 24 seconds into the second stanza.
This time it was junior Max Norris cashing in with a 16-yard sprint around left end. Norris would later produce the half’s final points, this one on a slick 15-yard burst with 3:14 remaining.
Calvert’s other TD aerial was an 8-yarder to senior Justin Veteto. For the half, Calvert completed 6 of 8 attempts for 93 yards, while the ground game chipped in 142 first-half yards. Calvert didn’t attempt a pass during his brief field time over the final two periods.
Center Grove put three more scores on the board in the second half, one by Morris and one each from reserve backs Lee Clinker and Connor Steeb.
Fisher in 23 seasons as a head coach had never absorbed a loss so lopsided as the one he endured Friday.
“We’ve got to look at it and this has to motivate us the rest of the year,” he said. “I believe in them. I believe they will.”