Pats' state dreams dashed as Bishop Chatard rolls

Kaiti Sullivan/The Herald
Heritage Hills' Mark Doyle, left, Jacob Wetzel and Phoenix Rodgers accept the state runner-up plaque after Friday's Class 3A state championship football game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Bishop Chatard defeated Heritage Hills 34-3. For more photos from the game, click here.

By COREY STOLZENBACH
sports@dcherald.com

INDIANAPOLIS — Heritage Hills has beaten Bishop Chatard just once in it's history, and it will stay that way after Friday.

The No. 2 Patriots (14-1) could not complete their second undefeated season in program history, dropping the Class 3A state championship to the top-ranked Trojans in a wire-to-wire 34-3 loss at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

The Pats bid farewell to 16 seniors following Friday's game. Coach Todd Wilkerson said it's been an "awesome ride" with this year's senior group. He called them great athletes, but also great young men. Wilkerson was positive that they'll go on to be great husbands and members of the community.

"The young men that get through our program know how to work," Wilkerson said. "They have great work ethic. This group has it, and they're just special. I'm glad I got to be a part of their lives."

Heritage Hills could not find an answer for Bishop Chatard senior running Daylen Taylor in the opening half of play. Taylor carried the ball 14 times for 142 rushing yards and three touchdowns. His first score went for two yards on the opening drive of the game. That capped off the Trojans wasting no time driving down the field.

The Pats' patented defense had forced fourth down on Bishop Chatard, but senior Andrew Sowinski caught a pass for 23 yards down the left sideline to help set up the Taylor score. Heritage Hills did manage to slow Taylor down and kept him off the score sheet entirely in the second half. He finished with 22 carries and 172 rushing yards to complement his three touchdowns.

"He's just a strong running back," Wilkerson said of Taylor. "We knew we'd have to get a lot of guys to the ball because it takes usually more than one to get him down, and a few times we slid off of him and he got going down the sideline that one time and got away."

Heritage Hills got its only score following Taylor's first touchdown run. Senior Cole Sigler got the Pats to midfield after he returned senior George Forsee's kick for 45 yards down the right sideline. Forsee saved a potential touchdown when he tackled Sigler on the play.

Heritage Hills' Jacob Wetzel evades Bishop Chatard's Thomas Joven player during Friday's Class 3A state championship football game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Bishop Chatard defeated Heritage Hills 34-3. For more photos from the game, click here.

The Pats twice faced fourth down. Senior Jacob Wetzel ran for two yards on fourth down with one to go, and the Pats caught a break on fourth down with six to go as a pass interference was called following an incomplete pass to senior Kaden Feldpausch.

Heritage Hills couldn't quite get the equalizer, but did get something out of it. Sophomore Ethan Hill booted a 26-yard field goal through the uprights at the 2:25 mark of the first quarter, making it 7-3.

Taylor continued to prove adversarial to the Pats. Bishop Chatard started the next drive on its 10-yard line after a block in the back on a kickoff. However, Taylor ran for 26 yards on the first play from scrimmage, and he capped off the drive running off to his left for a five-yard score. Forsee's kick made it 14-3 with 10:48 to play.

The Trojans had back-to-back penalties the next time they got the ball. An unsportsmanlike conduct and a hold did not stop Taylor from running 55 yards for his third score of the half, and Forsee's extra point put the Pats in a 21-3 hole with 3:39 to go.

Heritage Hills could not keep up with Bishop Chatard. The Pats failed to respond following Taylor's second score. A chopping block pushed them back, and they had to punt on fourth down with 25 yards to go. Heritage Hills also went for it on fourth down with six yards to go, and Sigler's pass to fellow senior Noah Mundy gained only two yards for a turnover on downs towards the end of the half.

Wilkerson didn't mind giving up 21 points to a team like Bishop Chatard come the third quarter. He thought the issue was failing to finish drives on offense.

"We knew we would have to score points and stay with them and we didn't get the ball in the end zone," he said.

The Pats' opening drive in the second half stalled out after possessing the ball for more than seven minutes. They faced fourth down three times. The first was a conversion following a completed pass to Mundy on fourth down with two to go. The second kept the drive alive following a pass interference on Bishop Chatard. The third, however, could not bring any magic for Heritage Hills, as Sigler's pass to Feldpausch in the end zone went incomplete. There were no flags on the field.

The Trojans also managed to shut down Sigler's ground game. He came into the game as the team's second leading rusher with 1,122 yards, but he only mustered 13 yards on 11 carries in the title game. Wilkerson said the Trojans keyed on Sigler, and praised the speed and athletes Bishop Chatard has in the secondary.

It wasn't until the second half that Heritage Hills forced a three-and-out on Bishop Chatard. That was the second drive the Trojans failed to put any points together if one counts them not scoring as time expired in the first half. However, senior Patrick Mastrian intercepted Sigler and returned it for a 47-yard touchdown. The Pats trailed, 28-3. The Trojans added one more touchdown, but Heritage Hills blocked the extra point, bringing the game to its final score.

Friday's game ended just the third state finals appearance in Heritage Hills history after the 2000 state championship and 2004 state runner-up finish. The Pats came one game shy of replicating their undefeated season in 2000, but Wilkerson said they gave it their best shot. The thing he's most proud of is that this group managed to achieve expectations. Wilkerson talked about people saying it was a special group in middle school that had a chance to do things when they became juniors and seniors.

"That's a lot of pressure on a group of young men, and they accepted that pressure," Wilkerson said. "They got to Lucas Oil to play on Thanksgiving Weekend, and what more can you ask for?"




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