Four Downs: Class 3A state championship

Herald File Photo
Todd Wilkerson will be coaching in his first state championship game in hopes of delivering Heritage Hills a Class 3A crown on Friday.











Patriots vs. Trojans, @ Lucas Oil Stadium

Teams: Class 3A state championship, No. 2 Heritage Hills (14-0) vs. No. 1 Bishop Chatard (13-1), 3:30 p.m. Friday

Series: Bishop Chatard leads, 6-1

1. Heritage Hills is making its third trip to state in program history, following the 2000 state championship and 2004 runner-up. However, the Patriots aren’t the only team rich in tradition. The Trojans are going for their fifth state championship this decade, following 2010-2012 and 2015. It would be their 14th in program history if they were to prevail. The Pats have won just one game in this series, and that came in 2004 by a score of 13-10. The largest margin between these two teams came in 2003 when Bishop Chatard reeled off a 24-3 victory. The closest came in 2005 when the Trojans edged the Patriots, 21-20, in the 2005 semi-state game in overtime.

2. This is the first time Todd Wilkerson is going to the state championship game as the head coach of the Patriots. Wilkerson said he’s gotten great advice from people. He said his predecessor, Bob Clayton, told him to keep his players focused this week, to limit the distractions and make sure the players believe they belong in the state championship. The Pats will practice for a bit today at Lucas Oil Stadium and head back home to practice for a bit on Thanksgiving. He talked about Southridge coach Scott Buening embracing the chance to practice at Lucas Oil Stadium when the Raiders won it all in Class 2A back in 2017, and getting the awe factor out of the way. Wilkerson is hoping the team will enjoy being there today, to have fun and take pictures before getting to work and practice. He added that they’ll have seen it and be ready to go once they get back there on Friday.

3. Heritage Hills has allowed an average of 6.9 points this season, and it will face a test of an explosive Bishop Chatard offense that has averaged 44 points in 2019. The Pats will be tasked with stopping the senior trio of quarterback Kyle Cheek, running back Daylen Taylor and wide receiver Andrew Sowinski. Cheek is 160-of-243 passing for 2,204 yards and 31 touchdowns against four interceptions. Taylor has carried the ball 226 times for 2,149 rushing yards and 29 touchdowns, while Sowinski has been Cheek’s most frequent target. He’s caught 63 passes for 1,032 yards and 22 scores. However, the Pats have players who can make noise on offense, too, with a focus on being under center and running the option. They have some senior rushers in quarterback Cole Sigler, and also Phoenix Rodgers and Jacob Wetzel. Sigler has carried the ball 113 times for 1,122 yards en route to 12 touchdowns. Rodgers has totaled 110 carries for 656 yards and 21 rushing touchdowns. Wetzel has gotten 159 touches, leads the team with 1,173 rushing yards and has 13 scores. Wilkerson said the defense must be outstanding and tackle well, but said the offensive key is moving the chains and putting up points. He said if the Pats win, they’ll have found an identity and stuck to it.

4. “It’s been awesome,” Wilkerson said. “You can feel the energy. Everybody’s excited about it. We’ve had people from all over reaching out and congratulating us. I know we’ve sold a lot of tickets up there already. It’s awesome. We feel good. It makes you feel good when you work this hard and you have success, and you get to have so many people enjoy it with you.”

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