November 25, 2016

Carmel’s Conner Coghlan Hits Game-Winning FG in OT
Carmel had trouble hanging onto the football all night against Center Grove, turning the ball over six times. But the Greyhounds came up with the biggest turnover of the game, and it set up their first state championship since 2011 and eighth overall.

The No. 7 Greyhounds (10-4) forced and recovered a Center Grove fumble on the first possession of overtime, and Carmel’s Connor Coghlan then kicked a 27-yard field to give his team a 16-13 win over the defending Class 6A champs.

On second and goal from the 1, Carmel’s Ben Leary knocked the ball from Trojan standout Russ Yeast. Teammate Austin Newland recovered, giving the Greyhounds the ball and setting up Coghlan’s winning kick.
The win came despite six turnovers by the Greyhounds, including a 6A title game-record four lost fumbles. But Carmel’s defense held the Trojans – who had been averaging 35.5 points and 359.8 yards per game – to just 217 total yards.

Carmel had taken a 13-10 lead, thanks to a 16-play, 87-yard drive that consumed 5:51 of clock and saw the Greyhounds convert four third downs. Jerome Halsell capped the drive with an 11-yard scoring run up the middle with :46 left in the game, giving the running back a game-high 142 yards on the ground.

But the No. 3 Trojans (12-2) weren’t done. Quarterback Jack Kellams completed four passes for 35 yards – the final 11 to Yeast that gave Center Grove the ball at the Carmel 33 with :01 left on the clock. Luke Eckert’s 50-yard field, also a 6A record, cleared the crossbar as time ran out to set up the overtime. 

Neither team mustered much offense in the opening half, combining for just 252 total yards. But the Trojans were able to build a 10-0 lead because of an opportunistic defense that forced three Greyhound fumbles.
The first came when Bailey Bennett knocked the ball loose and teammate Brett Boswell picked it up at the Center Grove 46 and returned it 21 yards to the Carmel 33. The Trojans were able to drive 25 yards, setting up Eckert’s 25-yard field goal with 2:14 left in the first quarter.

With 4:28 left in the half the Trojan defense came up big again. Corbin Laque forced a fumble that Logan Bontrager pounced on at the Carmel 25. Yeast carried the ball three times for 20 yards, setting up Titus McCoy’s 1-yard scoring dive that gave the Trojans a 10-0 lead with 2:52 left in the half.

But Carmel quarterback Jake McDonald found his rhythm, hitting on 5-7 passes for 47 yards while leading the Greyhounds to the Trojan 25 with :02 left on the clock. As the half ended, Coghlan was good on a 42-yard field goal, cutting the lead to 10-3.

Coghlan was good again from 22 yards out with 7:43 left in the third quarter to bring his team closer.

State Records (6A Team)

Most field goals: 3 by Carmel vs. Center Grove, 2016

Most fumbles: 5 by Carmel vs. Center Grove, 2016

Most fumbles lost: 4 by Carmel vs. Center Grove, 2016

Most interceptions: 2 by Center Grove, 2016

Most yards passing: 197 by Carmel, 2016

State Records (6A Individual)

Most field goals: 3 by Conner Coghlan, Carmel vs. Center Grove, 2016.

Longest field goal: 50 by Luke Eckert, Center Grove vs. Carmel, 2016.

Most Rushing Attempts: 29 by Jerome Halsell, Carmel vs. Center Grove, 2016.

Most passing yards: 197 by Jake McDonald, Carmel vs. Center Grove, 2016.

Longest Pass Completion: 40 by Jake McDonald, Carmel vs. Center Grove, 2016.

Most receptions: 8 by Kurt Rafdal, Carmel vs. Center Grove, 2016.

Most receiving yards: 82 by Kurt Rafdal, Carmel vs. Center Grove, 2016.

Highest Punting Average: 42 by PJ Buck, Center Grove vs. Carmel, 2016.

Longest Punt: 66 by PJ Buck, Center Grove vs. Carmel, 2016.

Longest Play from Scrimmage: 40 by Ethan Merriweather, Carmel vs. Center Grove, 2016.

Center Grove’s Logan Bontrager named Mental Attitude Award winner
At the conclusion of the state championship game, the IHSAA Executive Committee named Logan Bontrager of Center Grove High School as the winner of the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award in Class 6A Football.

Bontrager is a two-sport athlete also participating in track.  He is a member of Center Grove’s 2015 6A Football State Championship team and named MIC Academic All-Conference all four years. In track, he is a member of the 2016 4x400 meter State Championship team and was named 2016 Track and Field All State Athlete. He volunteered for Easter Seals’ Camp Ability through Center Grove football for three summers.

Logan is the son of Shanda and John Bontrager of Bargersville, IN.  He plans to study finance, math, or business law and is undecided in his college choice at this time.

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 is named in honor of the IHSAA’s third commissioner from 1962-76.

The Indianapolis Colts presented a $1,000 scholarship to Center Grove High School in the name of Logan Bontrager. 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.