Bishop Luers has reached the state football finals 16 times, tied with Bishop Chatard for the most in Indiana history.
But you'd be hard-pressed to find a more improbable Knights finalist team that the one that will be playing Western Boone (10-4) at Lucas Oil Stadium on Friday.
The 2020 Knights (8-6) started the season 1-3, and the young, relatively inexperienced team won just three games in the regular season. In the final regular season polls released by the AP and the Indiana Football Coaches Association, they not only weren't ranked in the top 10, but they didn't receive a single vote. They had to beat four top-10 teams in the first five rounds of the state tournament and had to overcome a 28-7 halftime deficit against Pioneer in the semistate championship last Friday.
But at least one person, Bishop Luers quarterback Carson Clark, insists that he believed all along that the Knights could still be playing on Thanksgiving weekend.
“We knew we were going to be here all along. People have been doubting us, but it's been a long time coming,” Clark said. “That was our main goal all season, to prepare for a state championship. We knew we were going to be here, and the only people that needed to believe was ourselves.”
That confidence held even during one of the darkest moments of the season, as the Knights went into the locker room trailing by three touchdowns. Given their incredible turnaround in the second half, it's natural to wonder what motivational speech coach Kyle Lindsay gave the team during the break.
But Lindsay said he didn't need to tell his team much of anything last Friday.
“Sometimes you go into the locker room, and as a head coach you address the kids right away. Sometimes you don't feel like that's necessarily needed, because the assistant coaches and coordinators are really targeting their kids that they coach,” Lindsay said. “When I got in, they were already at work. Things were calm. We had one coach that felt that he needed to rip into his kids, and his kids responded. We had other coaches that took a softer approach.
“I didn't see a team that looked like they were defeated. I saw a team that looked like they knew they made mistakes they hadn't made in a couple months, but they had some belief that they could get back in the game in the second half. So as the halftime rolled down and we were about to head out, I talked with the kids for about one minute, just said some encouraging things and told them you've just had your worst half of football all season. Now let's put together our best half of football.”
Of course, Bishop Luers would go on to play about as good a half as any Bishop Luers team has played, outscoring Pioneer 35-6.
Junior Krashaun Menson, for example, caught the first touchdown pass of the second half from Clark on the opening possession of the second half, and finished the game with 18 tackles. His final tackle of the game – his 101st of the season – stopped Pioneer on 4th and 1 to seal the victory.
“I just can't wait to get out there, play, put our pads on, and get out there and play football at Lucas Oil,” said Menson, who said that he had the chance to visit the Colts' home field before this week.
Sophomore Brayden McInturf tied the game 28-28 when he made his first interception of the season and returned it 16 yards for a touchdown.
The sophomore had just changed his number to 34, which had been the number of Bishop Dwenger freshman football player Clayten Stuart, who died this month. McInturf said he and Stuart had been friends since preschool, and as he crossed the goal line he raised his hand to the sky in recognition of his friend.
“I offered that up to him,” McInturf said. “It's extremely hard (to not have him here). Him and I, we made a promise this summer, that no matter happens, him going to Dwenger and me going to Luers, that one of us was going to get a ring no matter what. I'm glad to say that we can do that this year.”
And even with a heavy heart, McInturf said it feels special for the 2020 team to have joined the ranks of the many Bishop Luers state finals teams that have come before.
“I feel like we found our spot,” McInturf said.
If You Go
Who: Bishop Luers vs. Western Boone
What: Class 2A final
When: 11 a.m. Friday
Where: Lucas Oil Stadium
Records: Bishop Luers (8-6); Western Boone (10-4)
TV: Fox Sports Indiana; in-area streaming on Fox Sports GO app; out-of-area streaming at IHSAATV.org
Radio: 1380 AM