November 29, 2013

Tri-Central defense rises up in Class A victory over Eastern Hancock
Tri-Central's defense, solid all season, amped up its play even more in holding the state's No. 1 offense in check and capturing the Class A state championship in the school's first appearance in the finals.

Coach George Gilbert's Trojans recorded a stunning 20-10 victory over previously unbeaten Eastern Hancock and its high-powered offense. Eastern Hancock led the state with an average of 56 points a game. The Royals had averaged 52.6 points in five playoff games before the final.

Tri-Central got on the scoreboard first, taking a 6-0 lead when Garrett Kelley busted in from the 1-yard line with 4:59 left in the first quarter. The Trojans padded their lead to 12-0 with 43 seconds left before  halftime when Cody Howell lofted a 23-yard scoring pass to Seth Blunck.

The second half came with more of the same from Tri-Central, which never trailed. The Trojans relied on an impressive offensive effort, too, opening a 20-3 lead with a nice mix of rushing (191 yards) and passing (167).

Kelley led Tri-Central with 78 rushing yards. Howell passed for 167 yards on 7-of-10 completions. Jade Pickett caught four passes for 89 yards.

For Eastern Hancock, Gilbert Spencer ran for 145 yards and a touchdown. Logan Splater completed 7-of-11 passes for 55 yards

Tri-Central, ranked No. 7 in the state coaches poll and No. 8 by the Associated Press, completed the year with a 14-1 record. The Trojans' only defeat came at the hands of Eastern Hancock (47-35) in the season opener.

Coach Pat Echeverria's Eastern Hancock team, ranked fourth in the state coaches poll and by the Associated Press, finished 14-1. The Royals were going for the program's second state title after winning in 1985.

 Listen: Tri-Central coach George Gilbert comments | Eastern Hancock coach Pat Echeverria comments

Eastern Hancock’s Sam Carlton named Eskew Mental Attitude Award winner
At the conclusion of the championship game, the IHSAA Executive Committee named Sam Carlton of Eastern Hancock High School as the winner of the Class A Mental Attitude Award.

Carlton ranks 17th in his senior class at Eastern Hancock where he is a member of the National Honor Society, the National Technical Honor Society, the drama club and show choir and served as junior class president.

He has is a DARE Role Model  in sixth grade classrooms where he works to teach students about the dangers of drug abuse and has also been chosen to serve on the Hancock County Youth Council to help spread the anti-drug message.

He is a four-year member of the football team and a two-year starter at receiver. He’ll also participate on the swimming and track teams later this school year for the fourth time.

He is the son of Todd and Pam Carlton of Wilkinson, Ind. and plans to major Social Studies Education at Ball State University.

Each year the IHSAA Executive Committee selects a senior player who was nominated by his principal and coach and was determined to have best demonstrated mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability. The award, named in honor of the IHSAA’s third commissioner from 1962-76.

The Indianapolis Colts presented a $1,000 scholarship to Eastern Hancock High School in the name of Sam Carlton. The Colts have been the presenting sponsor of the entire football state tournament since 2009 and are sponsoring the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award for the first year.