Chip Davenport
Chip Davenport
High school football state championship hardware will have been handed to IHSAA classes 2A, 4A and 6A by the time you read this column. Additionally, classes 1A, 3A and 5A will be getting underway for three Saturday clashes.

This makes the world seem normal for a short little while if you’re glued to the game on TV, or if you livestream the action among numerous devices of choice.

Five of the six title matches among class 1A through 5A specifically, will have one parochial school in each clash. This also makes the world normal to me, as well as prep gridiron fans using the “R” word when they commiserate. Some fans go as far as suggesting parochial schools run the playoff gauntlet through a classification of their own.

WHAT?

I hear or read this idea from fans each year, but you and I shall never hear something like this from players and coaches who set high standards in the weight room and on the gridiron.

Are there 5A and 6A caliber players donning uniforms among private schools in the smaller classes? There always has been, and there always will be. But coaches and players want to compete. The teams striving for championship caliber programs see these teams as the gold standard. They aim to continuously improve reaching or exceeding the levels of success among schools like Indianapolis Catholic schools Chatard (3A), Roncalli (4A) and Cathedral (4A-sized playing in 5A). Chatard will move up to 4A next year due to their two-year tournament success factor. Cathedral will stay in 5A for the same reason. Roncalli has moved up before. None of these programs bemoaned their upward moves. They continued to “level up, shut up, and play.”

Each of those private schools earned a shot at its respective class’s title this weekend with hard work starting in the off-season weight room activity all the way to an early morning Thanksgiving practice before they take the field at Lucas Oil Stadium Friday or Saturday.

I believe you’ll see one or all of these schools in varying years on the Warsaw Tiger football schedule before you’ll ever see all of them move to their own private school state tournament.

Warsaw head coach Bart Curtis, his coaching staff, and his athletes wouldn’t have it any other way!

Curtis staff and athletes likely watched Friday’s Class 6A final pitting the Center Grove Trojans against the Westfield Shamrocks. The Trojans are playing in their fourth 6A title game in six seasons. No one in the Tiger program is watching the fray so they can grouse about the Trojans’ perceived advantage of playing in the state’s toughest football conference. It’s not about any additional excuses others outside the program might make about why the Tigers aren’t there. It’s about what the Warsaw program can glean from watching the game to see what level of play, and what physicality is required for a team to earn a shot to play 6A championship football in Lucas Oil Stadium each November.

What physicality is required, you ask?

Coaches like big butts (and big thighs) for reasons different than rapper Sir Mix-A-Lot did when he extolled their virtues nearly 30 years ago. They’re made in the weight room!

When you watch a state high school football finals game, you’ll see lots of big butts and big thighs churning on the field in the form of running backs breaking tackles and offensive linemen driving defensive fronts back on their heels.

Whether a program’s institution is private or public, the road to Lucas Oil Stadium starts in the weight room, continues by competing in multiple sports, and is solidified with hard, fast practices each day from June to November. The players must decide if they want to do the work to play in Indy in November, or if they’ll settle for watching the contest from their TVs or other streaming devices during Thanksgiving weekend.