Center Grove Football Program Poised for Successful Season

Photographer / Lindy Scott

The 2020 Center Grove High School football team is being touted as the best in the state of Indiana by The Trojans return 29 seniors from last season’s Class 6A state runner-up team.

“This team on paper is the best team we’ve ever had,” Center Grove Head Coach Eric Moore says. “But we had a 15-0 team [in 2015] that was pretty good, so we can’t say they’re better than them yet.”

The Trojan offense will be anchored by senior running back and Indiana Mr. Football candidate Carson Steele. The defensive line will be led by junior Caden Curry, an Alabama, Ohio State, Michigan and Oregon recruit, and senior Austin Booker, a University of Minnesota commit.

“I’m going to take my guys over anybody else,” senior running back Connor Delp says. “We have a lot of experience that will help us win some games early. Coach Moore knows what to do to get us ready to win in November and in the playoffs. I’m definitely confident going into the season.”

Center Grove has been one of the most dominant football programs in the state under Moore since he took over in 1999. During the Moore era, the Trojans have won two state titles, 13 out of 14 regionals, 14 sectionals including the last nine in a row (the longest current streak in the state), and six Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference titles – Moore needs one more league title to be the all-time leader. Prior to Moore’s arrival, the Trojans had won one sectional and regional, back in 1987.

With success comes lofty expectations, and this season is no exception.

“Our team goals are set really high,” senior defensive back Matt Soderdahl says. “We’re expecting to win every game this season and make it to the state championship.

Our slogan is, ‘Start 2 Finish’. The number two symbolizes back-to-back [state championship appearances], and finish what we couldn’t last year.”

After a valiant comeback in the fourth quarter, the Trojans lost to Carmel last season in the Class 6A state title game, 20-17, at Lucas Oil Stadium.

As Center Grove’s leading rusher and scorer in 2017 and 2018, Steele was sidelined for 11 out of 14 games in 2019 due to injuries. He returned for the regional, semi-state and state games, helping the team to its fifth appearance in the state finals and its third state runner-up finish.

“I had a little bit of a bum season last year,” Steele says. “Everything is meant for a reason. It’s very important to me to come back, especially after losing the state championship last year. It kind of puts a feeling down in your gut. You want to come back and win it all this year. It really fuels the fire to come back and win it all.”

Steele isn’t taking anything for granted this year, given his injury-plagued season a year ago, as well as the threat of the coronavirus pandemic potentially cutting the season short.

“This is my last time to play football for Center Grove High School and I’ve got to give it everything I’ve got,” he says. “You’ve got to give it everything you can and then you can realize when you’re done, you gave it your all and you pushed everything out.”

Steele could end up as Center Grove’s most decorated running back of all time. He holds most of the school’s rushing and scoring records, and could break more records this season.

“I’m trying to push for 3,000 [rushing] yards and 40 touchdowns,” he says.

“Hopefully, if I can do my best with by abilities, I’ll possibly win Mr. Football as well. To be looked at as the best player or one of the best players in the state is something you work for your whole life.”

Steele and his teammates have one goal this season – win the Class 6A state championship.

“The team that’s going to win has the most heart,” Steele says. “It would mean the world to me, to win this one last time with these guys who I’ve been playing with my whole life.”

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