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INDIANAPOLIS, IN. - Fort Wayne Bishop Luers bolted to a 27-point lead and then staved off a stirring comeback by Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter to collect a 40-28 victory in the Class 2A championship game.
It marked the fourth consecutive title for Luers, which ties a state record. Warren Central won four straight championships in Class 5A from 2003-06 and Lafayette Central Catholic captured its fourth straight in the Class A title game earlier in the day.
Luers also tied Indianapolis Bishop Chatard with 11 state football titles overall. Chatard will have an opportunity to extend the mark to 12 in the Class 3A championship game against Hamilton Heights.
Coach Steve Keefer’s Luers team, ranked fifth in the state coaches poll, went on top 27-0 late in the second quarter and held a 27-7 halftime lead. But coach Ty Hunt’s Ritter club wasn’t finished, cutting the deficit to 27-21 with 10:38 left in the fourth quarter. Four touchdowns by Jake Hagan -- three on receptions and one on a 38-yard punt return -- and some strong passing by Jake Purichia led Ritter back.
Luers finished 11-4. Running back Jaylon Smith rushed for 150 yards and three scores. His 16-yard touchdown run with 2:36 left in the game provided his team with breathing room. Luers amassed 424 total yards and 24 first downs.
Ritter, ranked No. 1, lost for the first time this season after 14 victories. The Raiders’ early power outage was a rare occurrence in 2012 as the team came in averaging 50.9 points a game. Hagan caught nine passes for 138 yards. Purichia completed 19-of-34 passes for 238 yards and the three scores to Hagan.
Class 2A State Finals Records
Most First Downs by Rushing: 19 by Fort Wayne Bishop Luers vs. Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter, 2012.
Most Touchdown Receptions: 3 by Jake Hagan, Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter vs. Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, 2012 (also tied the overall state finals record).
Cardinal Ritter’s Joseph Sweeney named Eskew Mental Attitude Award Winner
Joseph Sweeney of Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter High School was selected by members of the IHSAA Executive Committee as this year’s winner of the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award in Class 2A Football.
The award, named in honor of the IHSAA’s third commissioner from 1962-76, is presented annually to a senior in each classification who best demonstrates excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability.
Sweeney ranks second in his senior class of 120 students but is undecided on his college choice at this time. He plans to study engineering.
He is a National Merit Semifinalist, a member of the National Honor Society and Colts Academic All-State Team member. Additionally, he’s been a team captain of Luers’ Brain Game squad that won the 2011 state championship and finished as the 2012 state runner-up.
Sweeney has been a four-year member of the football team playing offensive tackle and also competes in track and field for the Raiders.
He is the son of Pat and Alice Sweeney of Indianapolis.
Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, the IHSAA’s corporate partner, presented a scholarship check for $1,000.00 to Cardinal Ritter High School in the name of Sweeney. Since 1989, more than $745,000 in college scholarships have been presented by Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance to deserving high school students in Indiana.
Fort Wayne Bishop Luers Coach Steve Keefer
“The difference in the game was our senior leadership and intensity. These guys have been here before and they know what it’s all about. Ritter gave us some shots in the second half and we staggered a bit but we came back and finished strong.”
“We executed well in the first half and played good hard-nosed defense. In the second half, we had some penalties and blown assignments and we let them back in the game. They’ve got some good receivers and a quarterback, you’re not going to shut down a team like them.”
“We got great senior leadership. The 24 seniors, we called them together in the fourth quarter and challenged them and they came through. Our message all year long has been ‘Don’t look back, look forward, and be positive.’ These players bought into that.”
(On winning his second state championship) “The good thing is that I can retire again.”
“I’ve been coaching at Luers for many years. When I stepped in as head coach, most of these kids played for me as freshmen. Some of these guys on the coaching staff played for me. We’re just one family and we all buy in to the Luers football tradition.”
“My goal was to get these kids back here and their goal was to get back here. They stayed positive and kept focused and we had a great effort tonight.”
Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter Coach Ty Hunt
(Down 28-0, what did you tell your team at halftime) “We knew we were going to be in a fight from the start, and at halftime we told them to strap it up and that we were going to fight for all four quarters. That’s what we did. We wanted to go out fighting for all four quarters and I’m proud