Irish Advance to Sectional Football Title Game
Defending state champion Indianapolis Cathedral advanced in the 49th annual IHSAA football state tournament Friday night with a 54-7 win over Plainfield at the University of Indianapolis. The victory sets up a sectional title matchup between the top two teams in Class 5-A, the top-rated Fighting Irish and second-ranked Decatur Central next Friday night at Decatur’s Devere Fair Stadium.
Quarterback Danny O’Neil ended Cathedral’s first possession against the Quakers with a 5-yard touchdown run to put the Irish on the scoreboard less than 90 seconds into the game. O’Neil followed on the next possession with a 30-yard scoring pass to Tazz Garrett.
Plainfield answered with an eight-play, 80-yard drive that resulted in a 3-yard TD pass to Iowa recruit Cael Vanderbush, which narrowed the margin to 14-7. The touchdown was the first allowed by Cathedral’s defense in the opening quarter this season.
O’Neil connected with Brennan Wooten on a 13-yard scoring pass and ran 4 yards for a second rushing TD, making the score 28-7 at the end of the first quarter. Seth Mencer added two touchdowns on the ground in the second period and Bryce Llewelyn returned an interception 30 yards for a TD late in the quarter, making the score 47-7 at halftime.
The 40-point margin triggered the Mercy Rule, which resulted in a running clock for the second half. Carson Johnson’s 47-yard touchdown run on the second play of the third quarter concluded the scoring.
O’Neil completed 10 of 13 passes for 213 yards. Garrett caught four passes for 110 receiving yards. The Irish defense limited Plainfield to just 63 yards rushing, while intercepting two passes.
Cathedral improves its record to 10-1, while Plainfield exits the tournament with a 4-6 season mark. Decatur Central enters the Sectional 13 championship game with a 9-1 record. The only loss for both teams came against nationally-ranked Center Grove. It’s the fifth consecutive season that the Irish and Hawks have met in the sectional final with Cathedral winning three of those four meetings.