Irish Win First-Ever Class 6A Football Regional Title
Second-ranked Cathedral advanced to the semi-state round of the Indiana high school football state tournament Friday night with a 14-7 regional victory at fourth-rated Brownsburg. The Fighting Irish improved their record to 10-1, while avenging a week two, 42-35, loss to the Bulldogs who exit the tourney with a 10-2 record.
Brownsburg and Cathedral entered the game ranked second and third respectively for most points scored per game in Class 6A this season. However, it was the defenses that dominated the first quarter allowing just 79 yards of combined total offense and three first downs.
Late in the second quarter, the Bulldogs marched 80 yards in 14 plays, taking a 7-0 lead on an end-around 7-yard pass from receiver Cayden Olinger to quarterback Jayden Whitaker with 26 seconds remaining in the first half.
The second half began with three turnovers in the first 90 seconds. Caleb Martin intercepted a Whitaker pass at the Irish 46-yard line, but Irish quarterback Danny O’Neil threw an interception on the next play. Three plays later, Brownsburg’s Caleb Marcus fumbled, and Gabriel Bragg recovered for the Irish at the Bulldogs’ 37-yard line.
Cathedral capitalized on the turnover, tying the score, 7-7, when O’Neil threw a 35-yard scoring pass to David Ayers. The Irish then took the lead in the final minute of the third period on Carson Johnson’s 2-yard scoring plunge.
Brownsburg’s final drive of the game lasted 11 plays with the Bulldogs moving the ball to the Irish 13-yard line. On fourth down, Cathedral’s Kyuss Gargett broke up Whitaker’s pass into the end zone with 27 seconds left to end the threat and ensure the Irish victory.
O’Neil completed 17 of 32 passes for 168 yards. Johnson gained 71 yards rushing on 19 attempts. The Irish defense held the Bulldogs to 254 yards of total offense, well below their season average of 448 yards per game. Whitaker was sacked four times and completed only 8 of 27 passes for 102 yards.
The regional championship is the 21st in school history, but the first for the Irish in Class 6A. Cathedral will host two-time defending 6A state champion Center Grove at Arlington Friday in the tournament’s semi-state round. The Fighting Irish scored 27 unanswered fourth-quarter points to defeat the Trojans 40-29 in the final game of the regular season on October 14.
The third-rated Trojans (10-2) advanced with a 42-32 home regional win over Warren Central. Center Grove has competed in the semi-state nine times since the football state tournament added a sixth class ten years ago in 2013.