INDIANAPOLIS – About the biggest surprise for the defending Class 6A champions might have been the venue of their practice on Tuesday.
With steady rain falling along with the temperatures, head coach Jayson West moved his Warren Central’s teams practice inside the school’s fieldhouse as they prepare for their third playoff game of the season.
Getting to this point was expected and playing into November isn’t any kind of a shock to the system for the Warriors. Neither is their opponent in the Regional-Ben Davis-whom the Warriors have already played this season.
But as West watched his team practice indoors and play outside in a pair of games this postseason he has noticed something that’s a bit of a change-his team’s increased enthusiasm.
“They get excited about the playoffs, they get excited about the moment and that’s the biggest thing I see change-the switch,” said West of his team. “They’re ready to go now and it’s a lot of fun.”
Results in Sectional 6 would show that to be true. After an 8-1 regular season that featured a couple of close calls the Warriors have turned up their game in their games in the postseason as they pitched a pair of shutouts in victories. The beat North Central 43-0 and then delivered a solid 16-0 win against Lawrence Central in treacherous weather conditions that featured steady snow along with 30-plus mile per hour winds.
“There is another level because Indiana High School football is so competitive so if you stay on the level of the regular season, you’re going to get beat,” said senior Mykelti Williams. “So you’ve got to turn it up a notch.”
That was assumed since the other 31 teams in Class 6A are all chasing the Warriors to knock them off the pedestal after a playoff run that early on mirrors the one they made in 2013. In their five games in route to a state championship Warren Central held all but one team under double digits in points. In the state championship game they gave up just six points in capturing the inaugural Class 6A championship.
“We’re not worried about next week or the week after, we’re worried about now,” said Williams-who was a critical part of the 2013 title run-about the team’s playoff mindset. “We’re just embracing the grind.”
They’ll have to continue to be enthusiastic about their defense in a rematch against one of the best offensive teams in the state in Ben Davis. The Giants have put up 49 and 34 points in their Sectional 5 victories and head to regional in hopes of having just a little more offense against the Warriors this time around.
Back on September 19th Warren Central was able to prevent the Giants’ big play offense from getting going in a 28-21 victory.
“It was a close game, it came down to a couple of close plays. They’re very good,” said West of the Giants. “We’ve got to do a nice job of containing them again and hope that we can because they are very good.”
Will that be more difficult after doing so against Ben Davis in the regular season? West’s says it a question that’s up for debate.
“Going through it you just can’t really tell,” said West when asked if there was an advantage to the team that won the regular season match-up. “I think it changes week-to-week, year-to-year. I really don’t have a barometer on that, I couldn’t tell you.
“I just know that it’s difficult playing these teams any week, anytime no matter how many times you play them it’s always as difficult so it’s a true challenge.”
But at least he can count on his players being more motivated and not caught off guard as they road to the state title gets closer to Lucas Oil Stadium.