Fighting Irish Win Football Regional; New Albany Next
Reigning Class 5-A state champion Indianapolis Cathedral won its 20h high school football regional title Friday night with a 23-7 victory over New Palestine at Arsenal Tech’s Howard Longshore Stadium. The top-rated Fighting Irish, now 12-1 on the season, will host New Albany in the Class 5-A southern semi-state.
Ben Gomez kicked a career-long 45-yard field goal to put Cathedral on the scoreboard with 7:10 remaining in the first quarter. Late in the opening period, Danny O’Neil connected with Brennan Wooten for a 7-yard touchdown pass, giving the Irish a 10-0 lead.
New Palestine answered early in the second quarter when Damon Hockett completed a short pass to Isaiah Thacker who then ran through the Cathedral defense for a 62-yard touchdown, which closed the Dragons' deficit to 10-7. Gomez’s second field, a 26-yarder, and Seth Mencer’s 45-yard touchdown run gave the Irish a 20-7 halftime advantage.
Gomez kicked a 27-yard field goal midway through the third quarter to conclude the scoring. Cathedral's defense held New Palestine’s offense to just 32 total yards on 26 plays in the second half. The Dragons finished the game with 18 rushing attempts that totaled -38 yards, including losses from seven Irish sacks.
Mencer led the Cathedral offense with 133 yards rushing on 18 attempts. O’Neil completed 19 of 25 passes for 160 yards. Jaron Tibbs caught nine of those passes for 99 yards. With three made field goals in four attempts, Gomez extended his school records for most field goals in a season (15) and a career (26).
New Albany enters the semi-state with a 9-3 record on the season after winning its first football regional championship in school history Friday, 33-14, against eighth-rated Bloomington South. Cathedral is 7-3-1 all-time against the Bulldogs. The two schools previously played 11 consecutive seasons from 1923 to 1933, but have not met since.