East Central Runs Away with State Championship

The Trojans captured their 3rd state title in program history on Friday.

East Central poses with the Class 4A State Championship Trophy. Photo by IHSAA. 


That is the simplest way to describe East Central's 37-7 win over New Prairie in the IHSAA Class 4A Football State Championship game on Black Friday. 

Appropriately, the Trojans dawned their all black uniforms as they ran wild over the Cougars. 

"It's really still sinking in, all the accomplishments this team was able to produce," said Coach Meiners. "I'm just extremely proud of our program and proud of our players for the way that they went up in that stage and that level of the game and were able to produce. They really did treat it like it was another game and came out and really performed and played to their capabilities."

East Central looked more than capable of controlling the line of scrimmage, running for 407 yards on 55 attempts (7.4 YPC). Josh Ringer led the way with 24 carries for 171 yards and four touchdowns, tying a Class 4A State Championship game record for rushing touchdowns. 

"I was extremely proud of his effort," said Meiners. "He's definitely put together one of the better seasons an East Central Trojan has ever had and just couldn't be prouder for the way he has come through for his team. He didn't let any game get too big for him, he just went out and tried to produce and even in the bigger games that we have played this year it always seemed that Josh was there and the guy we leaned on." 

Ringer, a junior, finishes the 2022 season with 2,368 yards and an East Central single season record 39 touchdowns. 

Eli Aston and Ryan Brotherton also provided big play ability in the state title game, both eclipsing 100 yards rushing, including a 59-yard touchdown from Aston that got the ball rolling for the Trojans. 

The Trojans were as efficient as any team could hope to be in a football game. They never punted, had zero turnovers, were only penalized four times, and went 9-for-14 on 3rd down and 2-for-2 on 4th down. 

"Its a credit to our players. We felt pretty good about our game plan going into it. We felt if we followed our game plan we had a pretty good opportunity to win the game, and we put ourselves in the right position and you want your players to go out and play well and execute a game plan and that's exactly what we did on Friday. We just wanted to win by one more point that New Prairie scored," said Meiners. 

Defensively, East Central held New Prairie to 276 yards of total offense and forced the Cougars to punt five times. New Prairie's only score came late in the fourth quarter. 

"Traditionally at East Central we want to play stout defense. What's so cool about our defense this year is that it wasn't just one guy have all the stats, all the tackles and making things difficult. It was really a team effort," Meiners added.  

To further prove his point, Coach Meiners alluded to the play of Rhett Smith, particularly in the semi-state and state championship games, as a player who's stats don't jump off the sheet - but a player who played his two best high school football games when it matter the most. 

"A lot of the seniors on that side of the ball are completely selfless and do what they do. They go out and play stout defense and tackle well and play with great gap integrity," said Meiners.  

Another East Central player that was recognized was Christian Garrison. He was named the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award winners. 

"He's an incredible young man. He's a high GPA kid, extremely nice, and always willing to help out. He's just what you want in a young man and what you want in your program for the younger guys to look up to. Awesome for him to get that recognition. An incredible honor," said Meiners.

For East Central, the state championship win on Friday was their third in program history (1994, 2017).

"We're going to enjoy this one for a little while in St. Leon," said Meiners. "I'm sure expectations will be put on us at some point to go back and try to make another at things. We're going to enjoy this one for a little bit and then will turn the page when its time and start focusing on next year."

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