June 18, 2024

The stage is set for an electrifying showdown as the East Central Trojans, the defending 4A IHSAA state champions, prepare to clash with the Evansville Memorial Tigers in a high-stakes regional championship game that could pave their way to a repeat state title.

East Central, boasting an impeccable 12-0 record, heads into the game riding high on confidence and skill. Under the expert guidance of Coach Jake Meiners, who has an impressive 54-9 record in his 5th year with the team, the Trojans are expected to deploy their full might in this crucial encounter.

The spotlight shines brightly on Josh Ringer, a top back in the state and a top contender for Indiana Mr. Football. Ringer’s exceptional performance this season has been a cornerstone of East Central’s success, and his contribution will be pivotal against the Tigers.

The East Central Trojans have not only maintained an unbeaten streak this season but have also claimed their 22nd sectional trophy, a testament to their enduring excellence in high school football. Their recent game against Greenwood was a display of sheer dominance, where the team amassed 417 yards of total offense compared to Greenwood’s 57, underlining their offensive prowess. Notably, the Trojans recorded three safeties in that game, showcasing a robust defense that pairs well with their offensive capabilities.

Senior Josh Ringer’s contributions to the team’s success cannot be overstated. With 148 rushing yards against Greenwood in the sectional championship, Ringer moved into 25th place in all-time state history with 6,058 career rushing yards. This milestone, coupled with his achievement of 100 career rushing touchdowns, places him among the elite high school football players in Indiana. Ringer has maintained consistency throughout the season, rushing for over 100 yards in each game and hitting triple figures in 33 of his 38 career games since his freshman year.

Senior Cole Burton, the Trojan quarterback, has also etched his name into the school’s history books. He became the first Trojan QB to throw 20+ touchdown passes in two separate seasons, with his 61 TD passes being the most in East Central program history. Burton’s leadership and skill as a quarterback have been crucial in navigating the Trojans through this successful season.

Ryan Brotherton, another key player for the Trojans, surpassed 2,000 receiving yards, becoming only the second Trojan in school history to reach this milestone. On the defensive side, the Trojans have been formidable, allowing just over 150 yards per game, with the defense led by senior co-captain Brayden Rouse. Their defensive unit is among the best in the state, yielding only 6.3 points per game, which is the third lowest in Indiana.

Evansville Memorial, led by Coach John Hurley in his 16th year, presents a formidable challenge with a 9-3 record. The Sagarin ratings place East Central at 99.55, ranking 5th overall and 1st in 4A, while Memorial stands at 74.55, 45th overall and 8th in 4A. These ratings hint at a competitive clash, with East Central holding a slight edge.

The Memorial Tigers have shown remarkable resilience this season. After a strong start with six consecutive wins, they faced a challenging three-game losing streak but bounced back to secure their place in the Regional Championship. Junior Quarterback Luke Ellspermann and Head Coach John Hurley emphasize the importance of being at their best in November, reflecting a ‘next man up’ mentality and continuous improvement throughout the season.

This resilience is evident in their three-game winning streak entering the Regionals, including a critical victory over Reitz, marking their seventh sectional title in eight years. It also was a huge comeback after getting blown out by Reitz earlier in the season. The team’s focus on a collective effort, with a dependable defense and a careful offense, has been a key to their success.

Facing the undefeated East Central Trojans, Memorial acknowledges the challenge but remains confident in their abilities. Coach Hurley recognizes the daunting task on paper but is eager to see how his team responds. The focus for Memorial will be on maintaining a consistent offense and a relentless defense, aiming to limit the Trojans’ potent offense that has rarely surrendered more than seven points in a game this season.

Historical Rivalry and Anticipation for the Regional Championship

The historical context adds to the excitement of the upcoming game against Evansville Memorial. This match marks the third consecutive postseason where these two teams meet in the regional round, with each team having won one of the previous encounters. The Trojans have outgained Memorial in past games, and their performance this season indicates their readiness for a challenging yet potentially rewarding rematch.

Playing at Enlow Field, a challenging venue for visiting teams, offers an additional advantage for the Tigers. With strong community support anticipated, the Tigers are gearing up for what promises to be an exciting and highly competitive matchup.

In their last outings, East Central crushed Greenwood with a staggering 47-0 victory, showcasing their defensive and offensive prowess. Meanwhile, Memorial secured a hard-fought win against Evansville Reitz, emerging victorious with a 21-16 scoreline.

Historically, the rivalry has been evenly matched, with the series tied 1-1 over the last 35 years. Their last meeting saw East Central triumph with a 35-21 win on November 11, 2022, setting the stage for a gripping rematch.

The game is set to kick off at 6:30 pm CT at Enlow Field, promising an evening of high-quality football. With the stakes higher than ever, the Trojans are poised to defend their title and aim for another state championship run. Fans across Southern Indiana are bracing for what promises to be a thrilling encounter in the heart of high school football season.

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