Ben Davis vs. Carmel: One for the Ages

Editor’s note: Complete state coverage can be found in the special print edition of the Spotlight that was published December 1, 2014.

“We are going out to write our final chapter- let’s make sure it says state champions,” head coach Mike Kirschner said before heading out of the tunnel Friday night.

The Giants didn’t let him down.

In front of a packed Lucas Oil Stadium, Ben Davis defeated Carmel 42-24 in the Class 6A state championship. It was the perfect ending to a journey that will be remembered for many years to come, by students, teachers and everyone in the Wayne Township community.

Carmel began with what looked like a sequel of their dominance from the regular season meeting, bursting out to a 17-0 lead early in the second quarter.

The Giants simply saw it as another comeback waiting to happen, just like their previous two playoff wins against Warren Central and Center Grove.

Forty-two unanswered points later, the Giants knew they had completed their best come-from-behind win all year. Contrary to the last few weeks, there were no last minute drives necessary in this game, much to the appreciation of our crowd’s heart rates.

The onslaught of scoring by Ben Davis was sparked by a 75-yard kickoff return by junior Jordan Wilkerson. There was a slight hesitation in his step, unsure of whether the kick would be called a touchback. As soon as he saw the referee letting it play, he was off.

It was just the momentum the Giants needed to get back into the game. Four plays later, the score was brought to 17-7 off of a four yard touchdown pass from Kyle Castner to Stori Emerson.

A quick three-and-out from Carmel, and the Ben Davis offense again took the field, scoring on a three yard Dorian Tate rush. The score was then 17-14, and remained that way for the rest of the first half.

Once the second half rolled around, big plays on defense led the charge by Ben Davis. The first was a forced fumble by senior Asmar Bilal. The Notre Dame commit had a monster game in his switched role from linebacker to safety, racking up 12 tackles along with the fumble.

That fumble (recovered by Omar Beasley) led to another Dorian Tate rushing touchdown, and Ben Davis was ahead for the first time, 21-17. On the very next Carmel drive, senior Chaz Stringer caused another turnover- an interception that he returned 44 yards to the Carmel 38.

Again, the Giants offense drove and scored, this time off of a three-yard slant from Castner to Brennan Gillis. The Ben Davis crowd knew that we were on our way to victory, with the score 28-17 Ben Davis.

A quick three-and-out ensued from Carmel, and Ben Davis began what would be the game-sealing drive. After a long six minute drive, Ben Davis lined up for a field goal on fourth down at the Carmel 3. With Castner holding for the kicker, he took the snap and instead ran it in for a touchdown.

It was a risky move, but it paid off for the Giants. With 5:27 left to play, the score was 35-17. Another touchdown added by junior Chris Evans solidified a sharp 131-yard rushing performance by him and brought the score to 42-17.

Most of Carmel’s crowd were on their way out of the stadium.

Carmel then scored a garbage touchdown in the final seconds, making the final score 42-24.

Our mantra all season has been “We Are One”, but after that game, Kirschner told us all that that O-N-E is now spelled W-O-N. The Giants finished 12-2 on the season, and lock up their first state championship since 2002.

The atmosphere on the field after the game was surreal. While this championship took a year of physical and mental preparation, it goes much further than that. It’s been 12 long years since Ben Davis has taken home the state football title. There’s nothing sweeter than being back on top.

For the players, this is an experience that will last a lifetime.

For the team, an unbreakable bond has been created within the players and coaches from how hard they worked and how far they’ve come.

For the community, an amazing height has been reached in how we’ve come together as a township. The pep rallies, the fans lined up on 10th street and anyone who had a part in this season have proven how big of a family Wayne Township truly is.

We are Ben Davis. We are Wayne. We are One. We are Won.