Local Sports

Triton Central seniors chasing elusive win against top-ranked Indianapolis Lutheran

Triton Central’s senior class has won 30 games over the last three-plus seasons, three sectional titles and a regional championship. The fact that the class has never beaten Indianapolis Lutheran is a sticking point for the Tigers, though.

One last opportunity comes Friday when Class 2A, No. 7 Triton Central hosts Class A, No. 1 Lutheran at Mendenhall Field in Fairland.

“This is a tall task,” said Triton Central head coach Tim Able. “They have drubbed their first two opponents. It’s a daunting task. I think we will see for the first time this year just how good we can be.”

Lutheran is 2-0 with dominating wins over Beech Grove (38-6) and Indianapolis Ritter (71-0) – two opponents who are a combined 0-4 this season.

Triton Central is 2-0 with victories over Cascade (42-14) and New Castle (21-14) – two teams that are 2-2.

While Triton Central’s defense has been solid, an anticipated powerhouse offense had been slow to click despite scoring 63 points over the first eight quarters.

“Every week is a different team and a different way to go about it, but not too many (defensive) adjustments (for Lutheran). We will be fine,” said Able.

Lutheran moved Montasi Clay to quarterback last season and it paid off in a 15-0 year and the Class A state championship. The senior, now on Marian University’s football roster, completed 130-of-180 pass attempts for 2,654 yards and 32 touchdowns. He also rushed for 1,298 yards and 11 touchdowns.

The Saints’ offense also lost receiver Jake Pasch, who caught 34 passes for 705 yards and eight touchdowns. He is a freshman defensive back on the Wabash College football roster.

Lutheran turns to sophomore Jackson Willis to replace Clay. He has completed 31-of-44 pass attempts in the first two weeks for 536 yards and eight touchdowns.

“He does run the ball but he’s more of a thrower,” said Able of Willis. “He has a quick release throw. We need to get in his face. He’s good, accurate and quick with fast receivers.”

Willis is backed by senior running back Joe Davis, who is just sort of 200 total yards rushing with five touchdowns. He ran for almost 1,300 yards and 11 TDs last season.

“He’s the cog,” said Able. “If they get him going, that sets everything up. We have to control him tackle to tackle. We won’t stop him.”

Senior receiver Micah Mackay, the team’s leading receiver in 2021 (41 receptions, 954 yards, 13 TDs), is back and has nine receptions for 136 yards and one touchdown.

Triton Central quarterback Jace Stuckey has very good statistics through the first two weeks – a 62% completion rate for 401 yards, five TDs and one interception. The junior knows his decision-making needs to get quicker to avoid mistakes, including forcing his offensive line to block longer which has resulted in holding penalties at inopportune moments.

“Jace played a lot in the summertime and just like with AAU basketball, you can get a lot of bad habits,” said Able. “You have four seconds to get (a pass) off. You don’t have that in games. He needs to have that clock going off in his head. He has to learn to get rid of it better.”

Able wants to see Stuckey hit the mid-range passes better that result in 20 yards and a potential run-after-catch rather than trying to pick up 50 yards in one downhill heave.

Senior Brad Schultz has 18 receptions already for 229 yards and four TDs but the production is limited after that with senior Luke Faust having eight catches for 95 yards.

Running back Ray Crawford has a goal of 2,000 all-purpose yards this season but sits at 205 total yards after two weeks.

“Last week with the penalties and the third-and-longs, we got out of sorts,” said Able. “We were not running well.”

The ICC showdown may come down to which team’s defense can make a crucial stop.

Four ICC teams are still unbeaten at 2-0. Lutheran is the only team with two ICC wins. Triton Central, Scecina and Monrovia – TC’s week four opponent, are all 1-0 in the ICC standings.




Class A, No. 1 Indianapolis Lutheran at Class 2A, No. 7 Triton Central

Game time: 7 p.m. at Mendenhall Field in Fairland, Ind.

Broadcast time: 6 p.m. pregame show live from Mendenhall Field with Johnny McCrory and Mark Drake on GIANT fm (96.5 fm, 106.3 fm, 1520 am) or on the GIANT fm app.

TC student section theme: USA/Military.

TC game promotion: All military personnel, past and present, with their ID or in uniform will be admitted free to the game.

Head coaches: Dave Pasch, 125-53 in 15th year at Lutheran, 190-110 in 26th year overall; Tim Able, 82-32 in 10th year at Triton Central, 207-130 in 29th year overall.

2021 record: Lutheran 15-0 (Class A state champions); Triton Central 8-5.

Sagarin ratings: Lutheran, 80.42, 27th overall, 1st in Class A; Triton Central, 64.85, 96th overall, 12th in Class 2A.

Point spread: Lutheran favored by 13.5 points.

Last year: Lutheran defeated Triton Central, 35-7, on Sept. 3, 2021. Two of Triton Central’s best offensive weapons, Ray Crawford and Brad Schultz, were unavailable for the conference clash.

Last 10 years: The two programs have split the last 10 games evenly but Lutheran has won three straight in the series.

Around the ICC Friday: Beech Grove (0-2, 0-2 ICC) at Speedway (1-1, 0-1 ICC); Class 2A, No. 5 Indianapolis Scecina (2-0, 1-0 ICC) at Cascade (1-1, 1-1 ICC); and Monrovia (2-0) at Class 2A, No. 3 Linton-Stockton (2-0).