With title in hand, 'Legendary' season achieved

Sarah Ann Jump/The Herald 
Southridge team captains Grant Maxey, left, Jayce Harter and Mitchell Carter ran onto the field before Saturday's Class 2A football state championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. Southridge defeated Woodlan 15-14 to claim the school's first state football championship.  For more photos from the game, click here.


INDIANAPOLIS — The script is finished.

For 15 weeks, the Southridge Raider football team has been perfecting the story of their season and finding ways to conquer their goal to "Be Legendary."

On Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium against Class 2A No. 6 Woodlan in the state finals, the Raiders capped the campaign off the best way they knew how — another legendary moment.

Trailing 14-7 with 1:22 left in the fourth quarter, quarterback Jayce Harter found Tucker Schank for a 42-yard touchdown to pull the Raiders within one point.

But instead of sending kicker Jeovany Dubon out on the field, Harter and the offense committed to getting into the end zone one more time.

“We’ve practiced this play in practice, I don’t even know how many times and as soon as we heard it called we looked at each other and said ‘we’ve got to go hard on this one,'” senior offensive lineman/defensive end Mitchell Carter said. “It was one of those plays where you could just kind of feel it was going to work.”

For the final time, Harter found Schank cutting up the right side of the field toward the pylon for the two-point conversion as the Raiders defeated the Warriors 15-14 for the first football state championship trophy in school history.

Southridge's Tucker Schank leapt to avoid a Woodlan defender during Saturday's game. Schank finished the game with 52 yards rushing and 121 yards receiving.  For more photos from the game, click here.

“When I first saw that play call I thought (Southridge offensive coordinator Brad Ohanian) was a little crazy but it’s one of those moments now I’ll never forget,” Harter said. “There’s only one way to describe it — unreal.”

Before each season kicks off, the senior class comes up with a motto to live by for the entire season.

This year’s group of graduating seniors had the idea to use the slogan "Be Legendary" and it stuck — with the football program, Southridge High School as a whole as well as the entire Huntingburg community.

“We were trying to do this for the entire town,” senior cornerback Jacob Masterson said. “To get to celebrate this title with the fans, our school and the entire community is awesome. There’s nothing really like it.”

Throughout the Raiders 2017 campaign, there has been a scattering of legendary moments — a lot of them with the class of 2018 at the helm. From Grant Maxey picking off a pass in the endzone in the first week of the season to seal a victory over the defending 1A state champion Linton to the offensive line led by Carter, Colton O’Brien and Jose Chavez allowing Schank to rush for 175 yards and 3 TD’s on just nine carries in a 56-7 romp over PAC rival South Spencer to Kortland Hartke sacking Evansville Mater Dei’s quarterback Cole Happe in overtime to clinch the Raiders' first sectional title since 2013.

Greyson Buse of Huntingburg, 10, screamed for the Raidersduring Saturday's game. For more photos from the game, click here.

“Once the fans started doing the ‘Thank You Seniors’ chant toward the end of the game it was just unbelievable,” Carter said. “Seeing our families and the fans excited and crying was just unreal — it all happened so fast.”

The relationships between the seniors and the juniors are obvious based on the connections they’ve had on the field this season.

From Harter finding Matt Price on the 55-yard touchdown in the semi-state championship victory over Indianapolis Scecina last week to the two key Harter-to- Schank completions on the game-winning drive, the juniors didn’t want to send the senior class off without fulfilling its goal to "Be Legendary."

“Honestly, that was my thinking going into that final drive,” Schank said. “We wanted to send the seniors off right. We knew that winning would be the best feeling in the world for them and they deserve that more than anything.”

Most of the members of the team have played together since sixth grade at Southridge Middle School while many have been close friends even longer than that.

“Our entire team set out to be what we’ve wanted to be since we were six years old,” junior offensive lineman Wyatt Kramer said.

Southridge seniors Jose Chavez and Mitchell Carter hugged as the team celebrated winning Saturday's Class 2A football state championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. For more photos from the game, click here.

“We’re all best friends and we love each other so much. It’s just really amazing what we’ve accomplished together,” Masterson added. “We just do it to celebrate one another — that’s why we play the game.”

Southridge head coach Scott Buening joined the staff in 2013 and he recalls taking the job because of the vibe that he felt surrounding the program and the support from the community.

And for Buening, having that backing from the town and people surrounding you is more important than wins and losses.

“It’s just something about these kids, this team, this program, this community. You always hope you can coach a program in a place like this,” Buening said. “The kids on this team aren’t perfect but you couldn’t ask for better representatives of Southridge High School.”

Ever since Brownstown Central defeated them in the sectional last season, the Raiders had a feeling that if they wanted to make a deep run then 2017 would be the year.

It was almost as if Masterson could predict the future.

“From the end of last year, we knew this would be the year we could do something special and sure enough we got something done,” Masterson said.

Jacob Wiegand/The Herald 
Southridge's Jose Chavez and Colton O'Brien carried the Class 2A state championship trophy onto the floor of Memorial Gym on Saturday during a pep rally to celebrate the team's 15-14 victory over Woodlan. For more photos from the game, click here.

Even Harter’s father, Chad, said he would try to talk to his son about  things to watch for with upcoming opponents or minor fixes from past games but he says Jayce would always greet him with the same response.

“He’d tell me, ‘Dad, it’s going to be okay — we got this. We’re going to be state champs,” Chad Harter said. “It’s almost as if it was their destiny.”

Maybe destiny did play a part in the Raiders legendary trek to the first state championship in school history but it was the characters who took their time to write the script the way they wanted it to be written — even helping people like Ohanian who was a member of the 2002 state runner-up team and Kelly Murphy who coached the 2006 state runner-up team reach something they had fallen just short of in the past.

“It’s indescribable and it still really hasn’t set in yet. Even while we were on the bus with our blue championship medals on and the state champion trophy in the back, it still kind of felt unreal,” Carter said.

“But it’s kind of encompassed everything we’ve worked for. We had the dream to be legendary, that was our motto. We worked hard to get here and we did it.”

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