Trojans Claim Back-to-Back 6A State Titles
Photographer / Lindy Scott
When the Center Grove High School (CGHS) football team won the Class 6A state title in 2020, Trojan Head Coach Eric Moore said it was arguably the greatest Indiana high school football team no one got to see, because of the restricted crowds brought on by the pandemic. However, Moore says, everyone got to see the remainder of that team this year – and indeed there was a lot to see.
Center Grove became the first football program in the state to win back-to-back Class 6A state titles. They also became the first to win back-to-back Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference (MIC) championships with undefeated records, as well as the first to win back-to-back undefeated championships since former Colts quarterback Jeff George did it for Warren Central High School in 1984 and 1985.
Trojan senior Tayven Jackson is the first quarterback to lead his team to three straight state championship game appearances in Class 6A. The Trojans have won 28 straight games, the longest winning streak in school history and in Class 6A, and they are still undefeated in the current decade. CGHS is the only team in 6A to have won three undefeated state championships (2015, 2020 and 2021).
Behind all of these incredible accomplishments is Coach Eric Moore, his coaching staff and his players. The coaches push the players to be the very best they can be, whether it’s offseason conditioning or weightlifting workouts, watching game film, or the final practice before the state championship game. Moore and his staff prepare their players for success. However, the players have to be coachable, team-oriented, and willing to give the time, hard work and sacrifices. The support of their families plays an important role as well. It’s a true team effort by the coaches, players, families and community to achieve these unprecedented feats.
“I have been an athletic director in several other school districts,” says CGHS Athletic Director Scott Knapp. “It’s not a secret to the rest of the state that Center Grove is different. Coach Moore should be credited with how this program has a top-down cohesiveness. The time he dedicates to this program is unmatched. He truly is a world-class coach and now a hall of famer.”
“Coach Moore has been committed to building a championship-caliber program throughout his career at Center Grove,” adds CGHS Principal Jeff Henderson. “His dedication to youth opportunities through the Bantam program, the middle school program, the high school program, all the way to the hard work he puts in helping players and parents navigate the recruiting process as they move on to play at the next level, is second to none. Center Grove has been blessed to have Coach Moore leading our football program, top to bottom. The number of lives that he has positively impacted are too many to count, and we appreciate his dedication and passion.”
The senior class was a part of three outstanding seasons. Here are a few of the team accomplishments during this time frame: two state titles, one state runner-up, three state championship game appearances, three semi-states, three regionals, three sectionals, two undefeated MIC titles, two Copper Kettle wins over Carmel, a 36-6 overall record, a 18-3 conference record, a 19-1 home record, and a 14-1 state tournament record.
“Very few senior classes across the state can say that they made three appearances in state finals games, walking away with a runner-up and two state titles,” Henderson says. “These seniors have provided our community with a tremendous amount of enjoyment and pride as we have watched them grow into the powerhouse that they became, culminating with six of our players being named to the Top 50 in the state.”
“Led by Tayven and Caden [Curry, senior defensive lineman], watching the senior class compete has truly been a joy,” Knapp says. “Tayven and Caden both have grown so much as athletes and as leaders. I admire the time and energy they put into bettering themselves. They have been leaders on and off the field, in the weight room, at the Bantam fields and in the community. CG will miss this senior class greatly and the two senior captains. These two young men make me incredibly proud and have been a vital part of our success.”
Jackson, a three-year starting quarterback at CGHS, is a University of Tennessee signee. Besides leading the team to three straight championship game appearances, Jackson set school records with 47 touchdown passes and 4,863 passing yards, completing 66% of his passes and 547 passing attempts. He will play in the Polynesian Bowl in Hawaii on January 22.
“Tayven was always fun to be around,” Moore says. “Tayven has one of the best hearts – a loving young man. I could always trust him. I knew he was always going to be there for us. He loved the big moments. I appreciate all the hard work he put in to really craft his sport and make himself better. He’s the greatest to ever play the position here at Center Grove.”
“It was a great journey,” Jackson says. “I wouldn’t want to have done it with any other teammates. Everyone fits in on the state championship win and the wins that we had. We can’t do it without Coach Moore coming back from sickness, and our coaches day in and day out coming in and working hard and watching game film. I couldn’t be more proud of our team.”
Curry, an Ohio State University signee, set school records for the most tackles for a loss in a career and season. He was a two-time All-MIC Defensive Player of the Year, named defensive lineman Mr. Football, and will play in the All-American Bowl in Texas on January 8.
“My word for Caden is humble,” Moore says. “He was everyone’s All-American for two years. He’s a humble kid. Every [college] coach who talked to him called me. They all said the same thing – he doesn’t say very much. I said he doesn’t say very much. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t like you. They couldn’t get a vibe of where he was going. The thing that makes me most proud about Caden was when he came to me in July and said, ‘Besides this recruiting stuff, I want to win a state championship. I will slow this all down and let’s worry about winning a state championship as the recruiting stuff will take care of itself.’ Caden is one of the most humble players I’ve been around, for all the accolades he has received.”
“I want to thank my coaches and family for getting me to this point in my life and helping me through the recruiting process,” Curry says. “I want to thank God for keeping me healthy. I want to thank the CG community for giving us memories that I and my teammates will never forget.”
Curry and Jackson, along with senior teammates James Schott (Michigan State), Kalen Carroll (Cincinnati), Sam Buras (Ball state) and Shane Bennett (Indiana State), have all signed their letters of intent to play NCAA Division I football. Another 10 to 12 senior players are expected to sign in February to play football at the next level. This is the most in school history.
“It’s impossible to capture all of the hard work, dedication and behind-the-scenes support that made this all possible,” Henderson says. “Success like this doesn’t happen overnight. It takes a huge group of people to build a program into one that is capable of beating any opponent they face.”
“When you step back and consider all of these individuals and groups – hard-working student-athletes, many of whom started out on the Bantam fields with the dream of a state title in their sights; our dedicated coaching staff; our athletic training staff and student-trainers; our team managers; our team doctor; the marching band, and their directors and staff; cheerleaders and their coaches; dance team and their coaches; the parents, including Gridiron and Booster Club members; community and corporate sponsors; the athletic administration and support staff; ticket sellers and takers; the officials; the chain crew; the announcers and press-box workers; broadcasters, both in the stadium and through the Center Grove Sports Network; Center Grove Police Department; Bargersville Fire and White River Township EMS personnel; bus drivers; school board members; the superintendent and central office personnel; as well as our assistant principals and deans – you begin to get the picture of how big of an operation high school athletics is,” Henderson continues. “All of these individuals contribute to the Friday night lights experience, and are crucial to the successes of the entire program. Thank you to everyone who has been a part of this journey – 28 consecutive wins and counting. Onward Trojans!”