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It’s speed that has gotten both Churubusco (12-1) and No. 1 Lafayette Central Catholic (13-0) to be one of the last four teams remaining in class A high school football in Indiana.
Friday night, the speed of two teams ranking in the top 10 all season will come together for a chance at a state finals appearance.
The class’s No. 1 Knights defense — allowing a state best four points per game — comes in riding a 27-game winning streak that spans over two years and includes a state championship over Fountain Central 52-0 in 2009.
“Speed-wise, they are as fast as anybody we’ve seen,” Churubusco head coach Lee Etzler said. “They have speed at every position so it’s a lot to contend with and a lot to defend.”
The Knights graduated 17 starters from a 14-0 state title team in ’09. Meanwhile, the Eagles have the same familiar firepower as it had a year ago.
Senior fullback Kyle Mathewson’s 2,410 single-season record in rushing yards has been joined by a complement of 660 yards from junior Josh LeFever. Most of that has come in the postseason with teams focused on Mathewson.
Down as much as 14 points in the sectional championship, it was LeFever who turned the tide for ’Busco leading them to their second sectional title and semistate appearance in four seasons.
Back for the first time since a 48-13 loss to Sheridan in 2007, the Eagles have a different mindset with seniors on the roster a part of the first deep postseason run for Etzler’s squad.
“How exactly we’ll respond when it’s crunch time, I don’t know,” Etzler admitted. “But I don’t think this team gets to worked up over numbers. There is a degree of excitement playing against a team that’s No. 1 in the state.”
The excitement has ’Busco facing arguably its toughest match-up since Sheridan.
The Knights rank in the top five on both sides of the ball including a state best eight shutouts this season.
LCC has averaged a margin of victory over its opponents that is only second to one team in the state at 45.4 points.
The high powered offense of the Knights has been mostly to blame for that averaging 49.4 points per game compared to Churubusco’s 42.2.
An Eagles defense giving up just over two touchdowns per game will have to contend with a list of threats LCC has to offer.
At the top of them all is Danny Anthrop who splits his time as a leader on the Knights secondary and the lead scorer on offense.
“Their best athlete is Danny Anthrop,” Etzler noted. “But any of their skilled players are capable of cutting your heart out as much as Anthrop. If it was just one kid it’d be easy but its not.”
Anthrop has split his time on offense with 10 rushing TDs and 12 through the air. The bulk his yards come in the passing game. His 47 receptions and 815 yards receiving are set up by Knights QB Austin Munn’s 68 completion percentage.
Nearly 2,000 yards in the air, Munn has rarely turned the ball over throwing 23 touchdowns compared to just four interceptions.
The closest game all season for LCC came in the regional round in a 35-14 win over South Central.
Despite missed opportunities, SC used time of possession to prove that Lafayette Central Catholic can be competed with.
“They were a different team than us,” Etzler said. “But it exposed some things and shows they can be beat and I think our kids understand that.
“We’ve been preparing all week to give it our best shot to win the game. It’s not our attitude to keep it close. We want to win the game and we’re not going to be intimidated.”