November 24, 2018
Pioneer Rolls to Repeat State Championship, 30th Straight Victory
North Vermillion surprised defending state champion Pioneer by recovering an onside kick to start the Class A state championship game, but fumbled on the first play. The Panthers recovered and completely dominated the rest of the game.
The Panthers (15-0) used a five touchdown performance from quarterback Jack Kiser to romp to a 60-0 victory over the Falcons, its 30th consecutive victory – avenging a 27-26 loss to North Vermillion in the 2014 title game. Kiser ran for 235 yards and three scores (one an 81-yard burst) and passed for two as Pioneer ran up 454 yards in offense.
Kiser's 81 yard touchdown run in the first quarter set a record in a Class A state championship game besting the previous mark of 75 set by Nick Barnes of Mishawaka Marian in 1973. It was the last record still standing from that first year of the state tournament.
Danny Gregorich added two touchdowns runs, Addai Lewellen also had a TD run, while Ezra Lewellen and Dustin Sparks each had TD receptions.
The defense held its end of the bargain, recording its 11th shutout and holding North Vermillion (13-2) to just 136 total yards. Coach Adam Berry’s squad, making its third-straight appearance in the title game, claimed its third title in school history.
Coach Brian Crabtree’s Falcons were making their second appearance in the 1A final.
Class A State Championship Records
60 by Pioneer vs. North Vermillion
Largest Margin of Victory
60 by Pioneer vs. North Vermillion
Longest Touchdown Run
81 yards by Jack Kiser, Pioneer vs. North Vermillion
Longest Play from Scrimmage
81-yard run by Jack Kiser, Pioneer vs. North Vermillion
Pioneer’s Dustin Sparks earns Ress Mental Attitude Award
At the conclusion of the state championship game, the IHSAA Executive Committee named Dustin Sparks of Pioneer Junior-Senior High School as the winner of the Blake Ress Mental Attitude Award in Class A Football.
Dustin is a four-year member of the Pioneer football team and has 52 tackles and 4.5 sacks this season. He has been part of two state championship teams, a state runner-up and four sectional title squads. Dustin is also a member of school’s boys basketball team.
Dustin has spent his time volunteering with his local church, mentoring local youth, assisting with grounds work at his local library branch, and working with Live United. Dustin also works hard in the classroom and has earned a 3.9 GPA that ranks him 5th in his senior class. He is a member of Pioneer’s National Honor Society and Student Council. He is also a member of Future Farmers of America and the Pep Club. Lastly, Dustin was selected by the Pioneer Athletic Board to the Pioneer Athletic Council based on his character, sportsmanship, and leadership, in order to better serve the needs his fellow student-athletes.
Dustin is the son of Clinton and Debra Sparks of Lucerne, Indiana. He plans to attend Purdue University to study actuarial science.
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. This Class A award is named in honor of the IHSAA’s seventh commissioner who served from 2000-11.
The Indianapolis Colts presented a $1,000 scholarship to Pioneer Junior-Senior High School in the name of Dustin Sparks. The Colts have been the presenting sponsor of the entire football state tournament since 2009, including the mental attitude awards.