The Carmel High School football team wanted to prove its defense could get physical.
“We talked about it all week, all playoffs actually, that we need to win the turnover battle and, obviously, we did that,” Greyhounds senior linebacker Ty Wise said. “We had to be more physical than them, punch them in the mouth, to win this game, and that’s exactly what we did.”
Wise contributed a team-high 13 tackles, including two tackles for loss, and an interception in the Class 6A No. 5 Greyhounds’ 20-17 victory over Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference rival Center Grove Nov. 30 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.
“To start our high school careers winning a state championship and to finish it winning a state championship, we couldn’t ask for anything better,” said Wise, who has committed to play for Indiana University next season.
Wise’s 39-yard interception return led to Spencer Hanna’s 25-yard field goal in the second quarter. Center Grove committed four turnovers compared to one for Carmel.
It was Carmel’s (11-3) ninth state championship. Since a 6A class was added in 2013, Carmel has been in the title game five of seven years. The Greyhounds, who lost to Warren Central 27-7 in the 2018 state final, edged Center Grove 16-13 in OT in the 2016 state title game.
“It was exactly how the game ended up in 2016, just a heavyweight fight,” Carmel coach John Hebert said. “We knew when we had a 17-point lead (at 20-3), they weren’t going to go away. We knew we were going to have to claw, scrape and put it together.”
Senior Dylan Downing led the Greyhounds with 102 yards on 11 carries, including two big third-down runs on Carmel’s final possession as Carmel was able to run out the final 3:21.
“We’ve seen a lot of runs by Dylan the last four weeks where he keeps topping himself,” Hebert said. “He’s a fantastic player.”
Greyhounds senior quarterback Gabe Quigley threw for 93 yards, including a 48-yard TD pass to Baron Smith. Quigley had to leave the game with a broken clavicle in the third quarter.
“We had to force him to come out,” Hebert said. “He was making plays and getting first downs and he did not want to let his teammates down.”
Sophomore Zach Osborne, who started earlier in the season, came in to replace Quigley.
“It showed how deep our group is. Zach came in and did the job,” Quigley said.
Quigley regained his starting role when senior Christian Williams was injured during the regional game.
“We needed all three of them to get this title,” Hebert said of the quarterback group.
Hebert said the players’ preparation was business-like.
“They weren’t just happy to be here,” he said. “I’m so glad we were able to get it done for our seniors.”
Carmel’s seniors include defensive lineman Cole Brevard, who has committed to Penn State.
“The seniors were special when they were freshmen,” Hebert said. “We knew we had the makings of a great group. They just got better and better as time went on. They learned from our group in 2016. They’ve just been showing everybody here that chasing greatness is a worthwhile pursuit and we got it.”