CULVER — Inspiration can take many forms.
Last Friday night, the Culver Academy football team leaned on their coach and a former player to muster the confidence and fortitude it would take to knock off the Class A, No. 1 ranked Lafayette Central Catholic Knights.
As daunting as that seems, the task was heightened even more as the Knights held the second longest win streak in Indiana High School football history (at the time the Nation’s longest active winning streak) set at 48 straight wins. When the final whistle sounded in the crisp Maxinkuckee air, the Eagles (3-1) had defeated the mighty Knights 14-12.
With Twitter abuzz with the pending breaking news, Indiana high school football fans were quick to make assumptions.
It must have been the weather. How were the playing conditions? It had to be too wet for the Knights to execute their vaunted attack.
Make no bones about it; on this night the inspired Eagles came to play and dominated this football game. Culver Academy played fast, flew to the ball and finished punishing runs. It was evident from the opening kick-off; the Eagles were determined to win.
“We had a great week of practice and the boys understood what we needed to do to be successful,” explained Eagles Head Coach Andy Dorrel. “The practice tempo during the week put us in a position to earn the victory. We have a group of extremely competitive young men who believe in themselves and their teammates. We felt if we could dictate the tempo of the game we would be able to determine the outcome.”
This aggressive tone was set early in the week and culminated right before the Eagles took the field as 2008 CMA alumnus Trevor Grywatch addressed the team.
“This was a very special event for me as we had Trevor address the team,” said Dorrel. “Trevor was an All-State performer for us who walked onto the Univ. of Virginia football team. Trevor rostered three years at UVA, earning a scholarship in his final semester. His emotional message resonated with the team and helped establish a confident mindset.”
The Eagles scored during their first offensive series on a 3-yard quarterback option run, executed by the ever-so-calm starting QB Hayes Barnes. Barnes then hit speedy Lacrosse star Joel Tinney for the 2-point conversion, giving the Eagles a quick first quarter lead 8-0.
Tinney was once again pivotal in the Eagles attack as he busted a 66-yard run in the fourth quarter setting up his own touchdown score from 2 yards out, putting the Eagles up 14-6 with minutes play. As all great programs do, the Knights bounced back and drove the field, scoring on a 4-yard run with less than a minute to play.
Culver’s secondary came up big as they stopped the potential game tying 2-point conversion on big-hitting Beau Ecksten’s endzone interception. The Eagles sealed the deal after recovering the ensuing onside-kick attempt.
“So many young men made outstanding plays,” said the proud Dorrel. “Obviously Joel Tinney, David Dilts, Aramonti Phillips and Hayes Barnes rushed the ball extremely well. Defensively so many big plays were made — Beau Ecksten’s two interceptions, Leo Sete, Mixon Holmes and Phillips all recorded tackles behind the line of scrimmage. However, I think the real key to our success was the blocking up front by the offensive line led by Jack Griffith and Caleb Jadrich. One of our top offensive lineman, J.P. Slykas, did not play, but that did not deter our effort.”
Culver’s victory led to Coach Dorrel — 82-74 in his 15th year at Culver Academy — being named the Colts Coach of the Week. This is Dorrel’s second such honor, the first coming in 2005 after a victory over Brebeuf Jesuit.
When asked what was said following the win, Coach Dorrel said, “just how proud we were as a coaching staff of the team’s competitiveness and resiliency. We refused to flinch and despite having our back against the wall, refused to lose the game. Everyone was focused on the task, players on the field, coaches, young men on the sideline. Everyone maintained composure through the emotional swings, and in the end we were able to execute and earn a victory.”
Last Friday night inspiration took form in the shape of a past standout high school performer who went on to persevere as a walk-on/scholarship athlete at the D-1 level. His trials and tribulations resonated that anything is possible provided hard work and determination are key contributors. Lastly, as is accustomed, Dorrel, through detailed preparation, competitiveness, resiliency and an unwillingness to break in big moments inspired the Eagles to do something no other team had done in over four seasons; beat one of the best programs in the state.
The Eagles are back in action this week, as they travel to Indianapolis to play the Brebeuf Jesuit Braves; kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.