There will be very few secrets when the two Class 2A representatives square off Saturday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium for the IHSAA football state finals.
After Western Boone defeated Eastbrook 34-20 in the championship game a season ago, both teams find themselves back in the title game with the Stars looking to repeat, and the Panthers hoping for redemption.
Eastbrook started the season 0-2 with losses to Class 4A opponents Marion and Delta, but haven’t lost since — carrying a 12-2 record into Saturday. Meanwhile, Western Boone (13-1) dropped their second game of the season to Class 4A Western 42-41, and have rattled up 12-straight wins themselves.
Since giving up 42 points week No. 2, the Stars defense hasn’t given up more than 14 points in any single game, and have a season defensive average of 11.7. The Panthers enter the championship averaging 39 points per game.
Spencer Wright returned this season to lead the Western Boone offense. The senior has thrown for nearly 1,500 yards and 22 touchdowns. Wright has added 499 yards on the ground and 14 touchdowns — third most on the team. Robby Taylor is the Star’s leading rusher with 1,251 rushing yards and 17 scores, while Brett Wethington has added 788 yards on 120 carries. Conner Hole has caught 29 passes for 599 yards and 10 touchdowns to lead the receiving corps.
Led by Wright — balance will try and carry the Stars to back-to-back titles.
For Eastrbook, the Panthers once again are pretty much one-dimensional.
The Panthers have ran for 4,407 yards on the season, while quarterback Dylan Bragg has only passed for 584 yards and nine touchdowns. The senior has added 767 rushing yards and 10 scores.
Wyatt Stephenson leads Eastbrook’s ground game with 1,290 yards and 22 touchdowns. Zeke Binkerd and Isaiah Dalton each have surpassed the 800-yard mark as well.
The teams do not have a common opponent on the season, and Western Boone has a slight advantage (58th overall, 2nd in 2A) in the Sagarin rankings over Eastbrook (63rd overall, 3rd in 2A). John Harrell predicts a Western Boone win 31-28.
2019 is Eastbrook’s third trip to the state finals in the last four years, and fourth overall, but have never won a state title. The Panthers lost to Cardinal Ritter in 2016, and Tri-West in 2004.
The last time a school avenged a loss in the state finals the very next year against the same opponent was when Seeger avenged a 28-0 loss to Cardinal Ritter in the 2003 Class A state finals with a 20-7 win in 2004.
Western Boone is seeking their third state championship in school history, and hoping to become the third Sagamore Conference school to win back-to-back. North Montgomery did it in 1995 and 1996, while Tri-West did it in 2003 and 2004.