SPORTS COLUMN

MCMURRY: Best way to overcome private schools? Beat them

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With each passing year, the debate grows stronger if private schools in Indiana high school sports belong in the same tournament classes as their public school counterparts. The controversy is never stronger than when it concerns the football state tournament, despite the six-class system.

Now, let’s lay out all the facts we know about private schools and their dominance, specifically in football.

Indianapolis Bishop Chatard has won a state record 15 state titles, while Indianapolis Cathedral has won 13 titles, and Roncalli has won 10 championships. All three won state titles last weekend at Lucas Oil Stadium. Chatard and Roncalli each own a state record 16 state finals appearances, leaving Chatard with a 15-1 record in state championship games, their only loss coming to public NorthWood in 2005. 

Just to the north of us, Lafayette Central Catholic owns eight state rings. And there is no doubt that these schools, like the Knights, have a leg up on public schools. I’ve heard about the letters sent out, I personally had a classmate move from North Montgomery to Central Catholic, and worked with a guy who’s son left Pike in middle school to go to Brebeuf Jesuit and is now playing for the Iowa Hawkeyes. 

Statistically, the private schools have dominated even more in the last decade. Only three times in the last 10 years have private schools failed to win multiple football state championships. In 2010, 11, and 12 — Cathedral, Chatard, Fort Wayne Bishop Luers, and Central Catholic each won three-straight titles. 

With that being said, we also are aware of public schools benefiting from transfers. I don’t want to point fingers, but it’s even happened right here in our own backyard. The ability to attend any school no matter your address has helped level the athletic playing field — right, wrong, or indifferent. Couple that with the success factor that the IHSAA implemented in 2013, and it has paved the way for more schools to have opportunities to win state titles. 

Many argue that private schools should be in a class of their own or have a multiplier added to their enrollment to decide their class.

I disagree. Yes, they have won a lot of state titles. But, they are not invincible. Look no further than right here in west central Indiana.

Western Boone was able to split the success factor reclassification and win three-straight Class 2A football state titles, culminating with an epic come from behind win over Fort Wayne Bishop Luers last Friday. In 2020, the Stars knocked off private schools (Heritage Christian, Evansville Mater Dei, Luers) in consecutive weeks to win the state championship. They also beat Indianapolis Scecina in 2018 and Heritage Christian in the regional round of 2019.

On their way to a 2014 Class 3A state title, the Tri-West football team knocked off Brebeuf Jesuit, Guerin Catholic, and Andrean in the state tournament. 

During Seeger’s run to the Class A state title in 2004, the unbeaten Patriots beat Central Catholic and Indianapolis Cardinal Ritter.

North Montgomery’s pair of Class 2A state title runs in 1995 and 1996? The Chargers beat the doors off Chatard in the postseason both seasons, and in 1996 beat Fort Wayne Bishop Luers in the state championship. 

Just outside the Sagamore Conference, in 2018 — West Lafayette beat four-straight private schools (Andrean, Brebeuf, Fort Wayne Luers, and Evansville Memorial) on its way to a Class 3A title. They also beat Evansville Memorial in the 2009 Class 3A title game.

I know, this is all football talk.

Want to look at other sports? Crawfordsville has two baseball state titles — beating Mishawaka Marian in the state championship game in 2008 and 2011.

The best way to make sure the private schools don’t continue to dominate?

Beat them.

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