Fourth & Inches
CGHS Football Team Finishes Resilient Season Falling Just Short In State Tournament
Photography Provided by Lindy Scott
Inexperience and injuries plagued Center Grove High School’s 2019 football season. Yet it will be remembered as one of Coach Eric Moore’s most resilient teams.
The season began with losses to Warren Central, New Palestine and Carmel. Many prognosticators (and naysayers) soon wrote off the season as a “Rebuilding Year” for the Trojans.
“We were against all odds,” says CGHS football head coach Eric Moore. “You’re 0-3, 1-4 with the schedule and teams we play against. It’s pretty bleak looking to have a successful season or a winning season, let alone a championship.”
Despite the slow start, the Trojans remained relentless in their pursuit of a championship. CG won four of its final six games of the regular season, concluding the regular season with a 4-5 record. It was just the third sub-500 regular season under Moore in 21 years as head coach at CG.
The Trojans hit their stride in the IHSAA 6A State Tournament. CG won its ninth straight Sectional, the longest current streak in the state. CG avenged its week one loss at Warren Central by beating the Warriors on their home field in the Regional. The Trojans returned home to take down Ben Davis in the Final Four. Following the win, Moore gave a very emotional congratulatory hug to CGHS principal, Dr. Jeff Henderson, on the field during the postgame celebration.
“He (Henderson) loves athletics,” Moore says. “He loves competition. He’s very supportive, just a great principal, one of the best I’ve had and I’ve been in this business for 35 years. I was really proud for him in that he was going to be a principal in the state championship game. I was proud to be the first football coach to get this for him.”
CG’s return to the state championship game was the fifth under Moore. It also included a familiar foe in the Carmel Greyhounds. The meeting was the third time the Trojans and Greyhounds have met in the state finals. After trailing 20-3 at the end of three quarters, the Trojans mounted a valiant comeback. CG scored 14 unanswered points in the fourth quarter, just running out of time, falling to Carmel, 20-17.
“I saw a great Trojan football team that came back,” Moore says. “A team that played for a third week in a row, one of the best teams in the state and Midwest. No one else, for a third week in a row, had to play Warren Central, Ben Davis and Carmel. I was disappointed for the kids, but never disappointed in their effort. I was never disappointed in the fact that they fought all year long to get back and even fought back in that (championship) game. I loved the fact that we were there, loved the fact we competed. It was just a great high school football game.”
Center Grove’s schedule was the third most difficult schedule in the state. Even so, Moore says his seniors stayed the course.
“I hope this season is one that the seniors will remember forever,” Moore says. “Hopefully, down the road, like everything we coach for, they see this as a life lesson and they take this into their lives. When things get tough on them, they will know they can come back from anything.”
Senior safety Max Baker appreciated the CG community and fans for supporting the team through the tough times.
“Most everyone counted us out at the beginning, going 0-3, but you (CG community), as a whole, stayed strong and I am thankful for that,” Baker says. “We love and appreciate the support.”
Senior running back Jalen Goines says wearing the Trojan uniform was special. “The brotherhood that surrounds CG football is absolutely absurd,” Goines says. “A lot of people in other communities think of football as just another extracurricular activity, but in CG it’s so much more. The friendships that I’ve made through football are worth more to me than anything. You can’t put a price tag on that type of stuff. The memories, the people, it’s priceless. The bond that CG football leaves with each individual athlete, manager and coach is truly remarkable. CG football obviously touches all of the athletes and coaches, but it goes so much further into the community to where people who I’ve never met before will come up to me and congratulate me and tell me that they’re pulling for the Trojans. Something about Center Grove and football just really brings the community together.”
Senior linebacker and three-year starter Gabe Boyd says he has the utmost respect for his coach and senior teammates.
“Coach Moore has meant a lot to me,” Boyd says. “He’s taught me so much about life and how to overcome pain and not give up on anything. My brothers (senior teammates) mean the world to me and our bond is so strong that we would all help each other through anything. Thank you CG for an awesome four years.”
Senior linebacker Cody Robinson believes CG football is one of a kind because of the amazing community, fans, coaches and teammates.
“At CG, we are literally family,” Robinson says. “We hang out together, eat together, practice together and create bonds together. This year, one of CG football’s loved ones, Keith Adams, passed away. To remind us of all that he had done for this program, we put stickers on our helmets that say “KA”. My fellow senior teammates mean a lot to me. Our freshman year, we went 0-9. So, to come back, each year, and perform better and better, and eventually making it to a state championship means a lot.”