Trojans fans, get ready to meet a new old friend.
Center Grove is accustomed to battling fellow Metropolitan Interscholastic foes in the IHSAA Class 5A football semistate.
The plot takes an intriguing twist this year, though, as the Trojans prepare for their fourth such contest in the past five years.
A day after their impending membership in the MIC was announced, Lawrence Central and Pike played in the regional championship in a bracket opposite Center Grove.
The top-ranked Bears emerged with a relatively easy 49-21 win and will travel to Center Grove for the semistate tilt at 7 p.m. Friday.
The No. 6 Trojans shook off injuries and won a shootout with a potent Castle passing attack to advance 58-34.
“It’s an awesome feeling,” said senior running back Conner Stapleton, who missed all of last season with an injury, but was a difference-maker against the Knights.
Meeting the Bears is not totally unexpected.
“We scrimmaged against them in the summer,” Stapleton said. “They said then ‘we expect to see you in the semistate.’”
This is the first matchup of the schools since 1990, but the two will meet each other on a regular basis starting in 2014. Lawrence Central and Pike will replace Terre Haute North and South in the MIC.
Although they may be relative strangers on the field, neither team is a stranger to postseason success.
Center Grove has been in four of the last five semistates and seven in all under coach Eric Moore.