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Operation Football: State championship preview

Dave Calabro sets up this weekend's matchups and rematches at Lucas Oil Stadium

INDIANAPOLIS — Can anyone stop the Trojans? Center Grove is chasing its fourth state title in seven years this weekend in the IHSAA State Football playoffs at Lucas Oil Stadium. 

The Trojans have won 27 consecutive games, while their 6A opponent, Westfield, has won 12 in a row since falling to Center Grove in last year's championship game.

The Shamrocks don't want to finish second again this year.

"We would rather win if we are down here," said Westfield Head Coach Jake Gilbert. "You know last year, as great of a season it was, that's a rough ending to lose in the state game. We lost to the better team, but we'd love the opportunity to prove we are the better team this year."

Trojans coach Eric Moore continues to be amazed by his team's success.

"To win this many games in a row, I can't give you a word for that," Moore said. "We got here in 2000 and never thought we would be back. We've been back seven times and each year has been so special — so many great memories, great coaches and players."

Friday night's 5A title game is also a rematch from last year. Cathedral tries to defend its title against Zionsville. The Eagles are after their first title since 1996. The Irish beat Zionsville 14-0 during the regular season. 

"This is the one team that I didn't want to face because we played them last year and repeating is really hard," explained Irish coach Bill Peebles, "and to play the same opponent for the second time is really hard."

In Saturday afternoon's 4A title game, Mt. Vernon is making its first-ever appearance in the state finals as they take on Northridge. The Marauders lead the state in scoring at 48 points a game as they look to make school history.

Coach Vince Lidy sees the game as a great opportunity and great honor.

"I got fortunate enough to play for a state title with my dad in '94 and we won," Lidy said. "As a high school athlete, the ultimate goal is the state title. So these kids have talked about it. They know it's out there, but to get here is the culmination of your entire year of preparation through the highs and lows."

Friday afternoon in 3A, the Brebeuf Jesuit Braves try to win their first title as they face Gibson Southern. The Braves beat three top-10 teams to reach the championship game.

"For my family and me, personally, it would be a neat culmination of coaching my son on the team and my father is coaching for a championship in the state of Oregon," said Brefeuf coach Matt Geske. "So, kind of a family business. It's gonna be a wonderful culmination regardless."

In Saturday's 2A noon kickoff, Evansville Mater Dei meets Andrean in a battle of teams from the southwest and northwest.

And in 1A, the Lutheran Saints are back in the championship for the second time in three years and trying to win their first-ever state football title. They have been ranked No. 1 most of the year with a perfect 12-0 record and are looking to stay perfect as they take on Adams Central in the weekend's first game at noon Friday.

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