Second-ranked Westfield will get a chance to slay Class 6A high school football’s giant Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Shamrocks’ 12th consecutive victory since a season-opening loss to Cathedral was typical Westfield football. Mix an effective passing game with the elusiveness of quarterback Maximus Webster and the result was a 41-23 victory Friday night at Merrillville that earned the Shamrocks the north semistate championship.
It will be the fourth state finals appearance for Westfield, which won the 5A championship in 2016.
All that stands between Westfield and its second football state championship is top-ranked Center Grove, which dominated Ben Davis 48-13 to win the south Class 6A semistate. The Trojans (13-0) are outscoring opponents by an average of 42-7 and have been dominant in the state tournament.
Center Grove’s smallest margin of victory in four tournament games is 35 points against Ben Davis and Columbus North (sectional opener). Its closest game this season was a 17-13 home triumph against Cathedral on Oct. 16.
Merrillville only led once against Westfield, with JoJo Johnson hauling in a 43-yard pass from Angel Nelson in the first quarter.
Webster then helmed an offense that reeled off three unanswered touchdowns to take control.
Reid Schepers caught a 12-yard TD pass from Webster, and Sean Sullivan’s kick tied the game at 7-7 in the first quarter.
Webster added a 3-yard scoring run and a 20-yard touchdown pass to Jackson Wasserstrom to make it 20-7 in the second quarter.
Merrillville closed the gap to 20-13 at halftime on Nelson’s second touchdown pass, a 6-yarder to Marcus Hardy Jr. The Pirates closed within four points on an Austin Pupek 29-yard field goal early in the third quarter.
Westfield put the ball in Webster’s hands at that point and Merrillville could not contain him. Touchdown runs of 48 and 2 yards in the third quarter ensured the Shamrocks’ trip to Indianapolis and highlighted a night that saw Webster rush for a game-high 152 yards on 21 carries.
Webster was 9 of 14 passing for 116 yards. Jackson Wasserstrom caught four balls for 70 yards.
Micah Hauser closed out the scoring for Westfield with a 9-yard run in the fourth quarter. Carson Voorhis picked up 64 yards on 10 carries, helping Westfield outrush Merrillville 245-169.
Westfield and Center Grove are scheduled to play at 7 p.m., following the Class 4A final between Hobart and Roncalli. Friday’s tripleheader opens at 11 a.m. with two-time reigning state champion Western Boone taking on Fort Wayne Luers in the 2A final.
Saturday’s tripleheader features unbeatens South Adams and Covenant Christian in Class A, Chatard and Danville in 3A and Cathedral vs. Zionsville in 5A.
Westfield officials said Monday that the school is awaiting word on Tuesday from the IHSAA regarding any limitations on ticket sales. Either tickets will be available to parents of players only or an allotment of 3,500 will go on sale. The athletic department recommends that tickets be purchased ahead of time at school since there is no guarantee tickets will be available at the Lucas Oil Stadium box office on game day.
Check the athletic department’s website, westfieldathletics.com, for updated ticket information. Tentative plans called for parent ticket sales to take place in the school cafeteria Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. Enter at Door 2.
If tickets are made available to the community, those sales began at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the school cafeteria. Ticket sales are tentatively scheduled to continue from 10 a.m. to noon and 5 to 7 p.m. on Wednesday. If any tickets remain, those go on sale from 10 a.m. to noon Friday in the cafeteria.
State finals tickets are $15 per person and all tickets this year are reserved “pod” seating of 2, 3, 4 or 6, according to the IHSAA. All seating will be social distanced and good for one specific game only. Fans will be asked to leave after the awards ceremony for each game, and no spectators will be admitted for the ensuing game until the venue is cleared. Masks/face coverings will be required at all times.