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The Journal Gazette

  • Rachel Von | The Journal Gazette Aaron Hahn helped No. 6 Woodlan get by No. 1 Eastbrook last week and into the Class 2A state title game Saturday against No. 5 Southridge. The Warriors are seeking their first state title, finishing runner-up in 1981.

Friday, November 24, 2017 1:00 am

Woodlan on mission

2A foes both seeking their 1st state title

MARK AMBROGI | For The Journal Gazette

Woodlan vs. Southridge

What: 2A state finals

When: Noon Saturday

Where: Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis

TV: Fox Sports Indiana

INDIANAPOLIS – Left without a job when Harding closed in 2011, Sherwood Haydock turned to nearby Woodlan, which had a coaching opening.

“In my application to the athletic director, I said I wanted to coach 12 more years and Woodlan would be in the state championship game,” Haydock said.

This seemed optimistic given Woodlan was coming off back-to-back 1-9 seasons and had been to only one state title game, finishing runner-up in 1981. However, Haydock has met his own mission, in his seventh season, as the No. 6 Warriors (12-2) will face No. 5 Southridge (12-2) in the Class 2A state title game at noon Saturday at Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium.

“I thought I could make a broad statement because I've got 12 years to get it done,” said Haydock, who won a 2A state title with Harding with a victory over Southridge in 2006. “So it worked out that way. This group I thought would get here. Sometimes I look and think this could have been our third trip in a row.”

The Warriors were 10-1 in 2016, losing to South Adams 20-14 in the sectional semifinals and 13-1 in 2015, falling to Whiting 14-7 in semistate.

Against Southridge, Haydock is concerned about the Raiders' run-heavy offense as a hybrid, shotgun wing-T.

Senior quarterback Jayce Harter has rushed for 1,167 yards and 12 touchdowns and has completed 95 of 164 passes for 1,570 yards and 13 TDs.

“(Harter) doesn't break away for long gains,” Haydock said. “He pounds his way through people and the running back (Tucker Schank) is just as good,” Haydock said.

Schank, a junior, has rushed for 1,251 yards and 26 TDs. Senior Colin Smith is No. 3 with 732 rushing yards.

“They throw the ball enough where Eastbrook threw five times a game, so we could try to make them beat us with the pass,” Haydock said.

Woodlan slipped past host and No. 1 Eastbrook 15-14 in the semistate on a last-second field goal by Luke Crilly. That was Woodlan's closest call in the postseason.

Southridge's toughest test was escaping with a 38-31 overtime victory over No. 7 Evansville Mater Dei in the sectional finals.

“We've been playing for our football life every week,” Raiders coach Scott Buening said. “The kids had a goal this season that they want to be legendary. We're just the third (Southridge) team to make it to this point. Each week we've celebrate the wins, but it's really been about that next step. If they want to be legendary, there is one more step they've got to take.”

Southridge is seeking its first state football title, finishing runner-up in 1982, 2002 and 2006.

Buening knows it won't be easy with the Warriors' athletic players.

“We're going to have to try to do a good job up front and try to win a few battles here and there,” Buening said. “It's always scary with teams ... where you defend the play pretty well, and they still make plays individually. We're going to have to play tremendous team defense and try to limit the things they do with the power run game.”

Like Buening, Haydock said balance has been the key to his team's success.

The Warriors score 40.7 points per game by averaging 244 rushing yards and 185.2 passing yards.

Senior quarterback Justin Durkes, a three-year starter, has thrown for 2,420 yards. Senior running back Jack Rhoades has racked up 2,089 rushing are 25 TDs.

“Hopefully playing indoors our passing game will come back out, because Southridge is tough against the run,” Haydock said. “They're very physical.”

Haydock said he wouldn't be surprised if it's an 8-7 game or 32-30.

“Both teams are capable of putting up points and both are capable of playing good defense,” he said.