Jordan Boyd | Yearbook Editor & Ben Greller | Staff Writer
Tonight, No. 6 Center Grove opens the season at home against No. 1 Warren Central at 7 p.m. at Ray Skillman Stadium. The team has not defeated Warren since the opening game of the 2015 season, which was also the last time Center Grove won the state title after going undefeated.
In last season’s opening match up, Warren Central jumped out to 21-0 lead in the first half before Center Grove scored 17 unanswered points in the third quarter. CG would eventually fall 27-24 in what would be one of many close losses.
Tonight, senior leaders hope to rebound from last year’s 6-6 campaign with an opening night win. However, Warren Central returns a leading Mr. Football candidate in wide receiver David Bell who had 1,075 receiving yards last season.
“I expect a good game with both teams playing hard,” senior defensive back Nik Browning said. “There are definitely going to be ups and downs but we’re gonna try to stop Bell with the things that we’ve been practicing on defense.”
After graduating last season’s leading tackler Austin Daming and big defensive play makers Brett Boswell, Tyler Watson and Jonah Hays, tonight’s defensive line up will look different.
“Our defense is pretty young,” junior Max Baker said. “We’ve got a lot of new guys, so they are gonna need to step up.”
On the opposite side of the ball, the offensive line will play a key role in the game as CG looks to get sophomore running Carson Steele going. Last season Steele rushed for 1,703 yards and is vital for CG’s success.
“I feel like the O-line is one of the biggest roles for tonight,” senior offensive lineman AJ Wiese said. “It’s gonna be about the battle up front.”
While last season’s game saw CG lose three fumbles, defensive end Brian Gaffney hopes to for a better outcome tonight.
“Well our offense is not going to fumble the ball, while our defense gets the Warren offense off the field quickly,” Gaffney ‘19 said. “Hopefully our offense can chew up the clock.”
Opening with a team of Warren Central’s caliber presents challenges but Head Coach Eric Moore is hopeful that his team is ready to take the field in an important opening-season MIC game.
“We have tried to prepare for athletes with great speed, size and ability and just a great team overall,” Moore said. “We have done that by countless hours of preparation and practice.”