Feb 27

“The Road to Paradise”

Carmel Greyhound StadiumExcerpt from Chapter 1: Friday the 13th

CARMEL WAS ABOUT to add injury to insult.

After yet another touchdown giving them an insurmountable 49-13 lead, the Greyhounds kicked off to the demoralized Knights. On the play, junior Dave Brosmer and got creamed from the side, causing him to wrench his back as he hit the ground.

He felt the twinge of pain, but didn’t have time to worry about it now. There were two minutes left to play.

When he awoke the next morning, he expected to be sore and he was. When he tried to throw his legs to the floor, a pain more intense than anything he’d ever experienced shot through him. His brother Chris helped him to the family car and his mother drove him to the hospital. After an endless array of tests, x-rays and MRIs, the doctor entered the room and turned his world upside down.

“You’ve pretty much cracked your vertebrae in half. You’re going to need surgery.”

“Surgery?” an agitated Brosmer shot back as his mom tried to comfort him. “What’s that mean?”

The doctor offered some bland encouragement, but Brosmer wasn’t in the mood. He had only one question on his mind right then. He had to ask, even if he didn’t want to hear the answer.

“Am I going to be able to play football again?”

He needed to hear a yes or no. He got neither.

“Let’s see, Dave, okay?”

OUTSIDE THE HOSPITAL ROOM, his parents asked the question again: Would he play football again? They got a much more straight-forward answer.

“Probably not,” the doctor told them.

There’s no lonelier place than within your own thoughts, and Brosmer would have plenty of time alone with his thoughts. He was scared of the prospect of not playing football again. Scared that the injury might be worse than what he was being told. It was a lot for a 17 year old to deal with.

After the surgery, he awoke in a morphine-induced haze. His eyes searched the room and soon found his parents. The concern in their eyes couldn’t lie to him. They were worried. They offered comforting smiles, exchanged small talk and laughed a little until Brosmer realized he couldn’t feel his legs.

Panic spread through him.

This was the ugly place his thoughts had taken him, and now it seemed to be coming true.

The doctors would repeatedly tell him that the paralysis was temporary. Be patient and the feeling would come back.

Be patient? He wanted to scream.

“When you’re 17, all you can think is that this isn’t right,” he said.

Feb 24

“The Road to Paradise”

Excerpt from Chapter 5: Learning to Win

HALFWAY THROUGH the fourth quarter, Evansville Harrison enjoyed a 12-7 lead over Castle. The plug was about to be pulled on the ’81 team’s playoff chances.

The Knights weren’t done yet, however, as they found themselves with a fourth-and-goal on the Warriors one-yard line with a minute left.

But when fullback Paul Quinzer was stopped short and Harrison took over, many of the Castle faithful began streaming from the stadium. The doom and gloom that had followed the earlier Mater Dei loss was about to give way to a tsunami of grief and anger.

The Warriors would run three straight conservative plays and then take a safety rather than attempting a punt, trimming their lead to 12-9 and forcing them to free kick to Castle. The Knights would get another chance.

Two incomplete passes, however, left the Knights running out of time and options when quarterback Jay Burch heaved a desperation pass toward receiver Chris Czerkawski, who went up between two defenders and hauled down the ball for a 53-yard reception giving the Knights a first down at the Harrison 14-yard line with 10 seconds left.

The stadium erupted. The impossible now seemed possible.

Junior kicker Matt McDowell confidently strolled onto the field only to have Harrison call a last-second timeout to “freeze” him. McDowell was undeterred, strolling to midfield and waving the crowd into a frenzy. Then he nailed the field goal to send the game into overtime.

After both teams failed to score in the first overtime, Harrison quarterback Scott Marsch hit receiver Dale Crossfield with for an eight-yard touchdown. The failed extra point left the Warriors with a 18-12 lead.

WITH ITS PLAYOFF hopes in the balance, the Castle coaches sent in the team’s bread-and-butter play, the Reverse 47 pass. The Knights faked a reverse while Dave Brosmer slipped out of the backfield, and Burch found him in the right flat for the touchdown.

McDowell would get plenty of encouragement from the emotionally spent crowd of 5,000 at Enlow Stadium as he strolled back on the field and hit the extra point for an unbelievable 19-18 come-from-behind victory that eliminated the Warriors from playoff contention.

Joy had returned to Castledom as Mohawk-haircut adorned senior nose guard Jeff “Dogman” Sellers came sliding off the field on his knees in celebration.

Castle’s playoff chances may have been on life support, but they were still breathing.

Feb 22

“The Road to Paradise”

Castle SquiresExcerpt from Chapter 5: Learning to Win

THE DAY OF THE TEAM’S first seventh grade game against the Mt. Vernon Wildcats, quarterback Mike Davis was home sick with bronchitis. The fledgling Castle Squires had lost their starting quarterback without playing a single down.

Backup quarterback Kevin Knapp was pressed into action and was moving the Squires down the field late in the scoreless game, when on a pitch out,  the ball bounced off running back Dave Brosmer and right into the hands of Wildcat speedster Daryl Givens, who raced the other way for a 90-yard touchdown.

Split back Neil Chapman gave chase, but his lunging grab at midfield came up short and Givens raced into the end zone for a 6-0 Wildcat lead. The stunned Squires would lose by the same score.

For years, Chapman would remember that moment, wishing he’d made the tackle.

“If there was ever one moment I wish I could have back, it was that one,” Chapman said. “I wish I had made that tackle.”

It wasn’t Chapman’s fault, Brosmer said.

“That was on me. I should have held on.”

Davis disagreed.The loss, he said, was his fault.

“I’ve always felt that if I had been there we wouldn’t have lost,” Davis said, adding that after that game, it would have taken an act of God to keep him out of a football game.

Meanwhile, Brosmer and linebacker Pat Lockyear, who had won 18 of 20 games in junior league football, had now suffered their second loss in a row (including the Junior Bowl loss to the Raiders in sixth grade).

“We hadn’t lost much in three years and now we’d lost two in a row,” Lockyear said. “We knew our leader wasn’t there, but we just didn’t step up enough. It was a taste we didn’t want to have in our mouth again.”

Castle Squires 7th grade team

ATHLETES AND COACHES will rarely admit that any loss was a good experience, but if there ever was one, maybe that one was it.

Because of that game “we knew what it was like to lose, and we didn’t want to feel that way again,” defensive back Rodney Russell said.

The Squires would rebound the next week and roll undefeated through their remaining schedule, including a hard-fought 14-7 victory over archrival Boonville.

Russell started the season on the bench, but would get his chance to start at “monster back” (essentially a roving safety) when Knapp was injured at mid-season. It was all the opportunity Russell needed, and he was a starter from then on.

Coach Johnny Evers was the first person to put the possibility of a state championship in the young players’ minds when he took several players to the championship game that season.

“He was basically letting us know that this (the state championship game) was where we wanted to be,” Brosmer said. “He never said it, but that thought stuck in our minds. He knew what he was doing.”

Castle Squires 8th grade teamMOST FOOTBALL COACHES would spend the coming winter basking in the glory of a great season, but Evers would soon have other things on his mind.

In December, a plane carrying the University of Evansville basketball team crashed immediately after takeoff from Evansville’s Dress Regional Airport, killing all aboard. It was a tough time for Evers. During his senior year at UE, Evers was the resident assistant in the basketball players’ dorm. Many of the young men on that plane were his personal friends.

To add to the macabre moment, Evers remembered back to his tough career decision a couple years before where he had bypassed a chance to take the assistant sports information director job at UE to be a seventh grade football coach. Had he stayed at UE, he most likely would have been the school’s sports information director that season — and would have been on that plane.Indiana High School football sports

“When I heard the news, all I could do was just look into the mirror and wonder,” he said. “Sometimes fate has plans you don’t understand.”

Feb 20

“The Road to Paradise”

1975 Chandler Vikings teamExcerpt from Chapter 5: Learning to Win

DAVE BROSMER AND Pat Lockyear had known each other since kindergarten, and by the time fourth grade rolled around they were tight friends. The two youths would come to embody the toughness of the working-class town of Chandler, and they didn’t need anybody to tell them that they came from the wrong side of the tracks in Castle Country.

“The toughness of Chandler is what made us,” Brosmer said. “We were the rough, poor kids, and (the Newburgh kids) were the rich, spoiled kids. That’s just the way it was, at least from our point of view.”

Brosmer and Lockyear were starting their fourth-grade years when a new junior football league for fourth, fifth and sixth graders in Chandler and Newburgh began its inaugural season. As fourth graders, the two wouldn’t get a lot of  playing time in the Saturday morning games, but there couldn’t have been a better setting for their development. The fourth graders that first season would be the seniors on the 1982 state champion Knights, the first class to benefit from the three extra years of organized football that the junior league provided.

After a brief league tryout in the Chandler Elementary gym, the coaches selected their squads. It would be a heck of a draft for the Vikings — who secured not only the young Brosmer and Lockyear, but also a sixth grader named Steve Biggs, who would later earn a full-ride football scholarship at Western Kentucky University. In all seven players from that initial Chandler Vikings team would play significant roles in the Castle football program leading up to the 1982 state championship team.

Their coach, Damon Monks, knew a couple of things about football. The Bristol Meyers Squibb worker had been a member of Castle’s first football squads in the early 1960s when the team was a punching bag for more experienced programs. Joined by fellow coach Jerry Gill, a talented high school athlete himself who would handle the Vikings backs, Monks concentrated on the lineman.

It was a coaching marriage made in football heaven.

“It was just came together and couldn’t have worked out much better,” Monks said.

Well, it could have started a little bit better. The Vikings began their gridiron existence with a tough 6-0 loss to the Chandler Rams, but would then charge unchallenged through the rest of their six-game schedule against the Rams as well as the Newburgh Chiefs and Newburgh Chargers to finish as League champs with a 5-1 record.

At 10 years old, Dave Brosmer and Pat Lockyear were already champions.

1974 Chandler Vikings teamIN THE LEAGUE’S second season the number of teams increased to four with the addition of the Cardinals and Cowboys in Chandler and the Saints and Raiders in Newburgh.

The Vikings of Brosmer and Lockyear, joined by the younger Chris Brosmer, would easily run through the schedule unchallenged. At 6-0, this time the Vikings would have to earn the title in a championship game dubbed the Junior Bowl under the lights at Castle Stadium where they would face the Newburgh Saints.

For elementary school kids who played their games on Saturday afternoons on a weed-choked field before maybe 100 fans, the thought of playing under the lights at the high school stadium was the thrill of a lifetime — the feeling league officials had hoped for.

Amid an icy drizzle late in a scoreless game, the Vikings coaching staff had called a pass play, but quarterback Reuben Weiss changed the call in the huddle. Weiss wasn’t bucking authority. He was worried about being able to grip the ball to make the throw and the receiver’s ability to catch the ball.

Instead, Weiss took the snap, faked a step back and scampered through a hole in the line for a four-yard touchdown that would be all the Vikings would need as they held off future Castle star linebacker Rodney Russell’s Saints by a 6-0 score.

Lockyear and Dave Brosmer were now two-time champions (with a 12-1 career record) while Chris Brosmer had just earned his first taste of glory.

AS THE LEAGUE’S third season began, the Vikings were once again expected to vie for the Junior League championship.

Monks knew they were good, but worried that his players were starting to believe it as well. His concerns were realized when he felt his players were merely going through the motions during a game against the league doormat Cowboys — a game they led 21-0 at halftime.

While the Cowboys sat in the shade sipping cool drinks at halftime, Monks ran his two-time champs up a hill next to the field. Monks got their attention. With a crisper 28-point second half, the Vikings cruised to a 49-0 victory.

“I don’t remember that particular incident,” Monks laughed, “but I don’t doubt that it happened.”

With their focus renewed, the Vikings once again stormed to an undefeated 6-0 regular season and would face the Newburgh Raiders in the Junior Bowl. In three seasons of organized football, Dave Brosmer and Lockyear were 18-1 (a 94.7 percent winning percentage) and two-time champions.

Still, Monks knew beating the Raiders would be a daunting task and practiced his team well past dark all week on a field lit by automobile headlights.

The Raiders had squeaked by a Newburgh Chiefs team led by a hard-as-nails running back named Joe Dillman to reach the championship game. Dillman was literally a man among boys, the kind of running back that inflicted pain and brought stars. Most of Dillman’s friends swear he sported six-pack abs and was shaving by fifth grade.

“You didn’t really tackle Joe,” Raiders running back and future Castle fullback Neil Chapman said. “He just ran over you and hopefully he fell down in the process.”

THE RAIDERS WERE quarterbacked by first-year player Mike Davis, who had lived his first years in Boonville where his father was a Baptist minister. Davis had spent most of the summer begging his skeptical mother to allow him to play tackle football.

The game was nothing new to the tall, angular Davis. He’d been playing backyard football for years, but he wasn’t prepared for the organized game — at least when it came to footwear. The embarrassed Davis showed up for his first practice wearing metal baseball cleats. The embarrassment wouldn’t last long.

By his second practice, he had the right footwear and was about to have his football career defined for him as the coaches lined the entire team up and had each player throw a dozen passes. They were looking for a quarterback and quickly found one in Davis. One of the biggest players on his team, the 98-pound Davis barely qualified for playing quarterback in the league, which had a 100-pound weight limit for skill-position players.

Along with Chapman, the Raiders also sported a tough precocious linebacker named Joe Huff. Even though Huff was a skinny fifth grader, no one ever doubted his toughness or drive — because Huff wouldn’t let them. Before every practice the Raiders players would run a warm-up lap around a baseball backstop, a run that most everyone would run at three-quarters speed — except for Huff.

“He won that damn race every time,” Chapman said. “Even after awhile, when somebody would try to challenge him, he always won it. It killed us.”

THE JUNIOR BOWL was the first time Chapman saw in person the vaunted Brosmer brothers, the dynamic duo of the Chandler Vikings whom he had heard about all season. The game, which would become one-sided as Davis led his Raiders to a 22-6 win, would be the toughest loss in the young football careers of Lockyear and the Brosmer brothers. It would be a taste, they wouldn’t enjoy.

Monks could have no have idea that the three — along with Davis, Chapman and Huff — would one day change the face of Southern Indiana football, but he was well aware that he couldn’t have had a “better bunch” of Vikings players — a group that seemed to love football and all that came with it.

Monks wasn’t new to coaching, having coached baseball for several years. In that time, he’d seen a lot of young athletes, plenty of whom couldn’t wait for practice to end — but not this group.

“These guys, you couldn’t wear them out,” Monks said. “They were never in a hurry to leave practice and go home. You just couldn’t give them too much. It didn’t matter how many times you’d run them up that hill, they just seemed to like it.”

“Like” might be a “strong word,” Lockyear laughed.

Monks’ coaching of Lockyear and the Brosmer brothers would end right there, but he was never far away. He continued to follow their progress through junior high and high school, never missing a game.

“It was special to see them succeed,” Monks said.

Neither Lockyear nor Brosmer, though, weren’t thinking that far ahead. Instead, they were looking forward to seventh grade so could play with Mike Davis rather than against him.

Feb 13

“The Road to Paradise”

Castle High School State ChampionsTable of Contents

Chapter 1: Friday the 13th

The one-sided 1981 loss to the eventual state champion Carmel Greyhounds leaves the Castle Knights football program at a crossroads: accept its place as a playoff patsy for northern Indiana teams or use the loss as motivation to take the next step.

Chapter 2: What Have We Done?

As the Castle Knights prepare to play the northern Indiana powerhouse Hobart Brickies for the 1982 state football championship, they have answered most of the naysayers who contend that southern teams just can’t compete with their northern brethren. As Castle coaches review Hobart game tapes, witnessing the size and ferociousness of the Brickies, only one question is on their mind: “My god, what have we done?

Chapter 3: Paradise, Indiana

Castle High School, a shot-gun marriage between two polar opposite towns — the picturesque river town Newburgh and the blue collar collection of clapboard houses and mobile homes along a highway known as Chandler, a town literally on the wrong side of the tracks. Can the two towns coexist as one school?

Chapter 4: Return to Waterloo

The Knights return to the stadium of the disaster game against Carmel a year before, this time to play for state championship against Hobart. In the opening minutes of the contest, the Knights would bobble the kickoff and still go into the offensive huddle smiling. They could afford to smile, they knew what play was coming next.

Chapter 5: Learning to Win

The formative years of the 1982 Castle team are explored from fourth grade when they first strapped on shoulder pads through their junior seasons when many of them would play formative roles on the 1981 team that would reach the semi-state level of the playoffs. Through it all, these future Knights were learning to win.

Chapter 6: The Bigger the Bully

The Castle Knights use timing, precision and finesse, along with a good ol’ dose of smash-mouth football to take an early lead on Hobart during the 1982 state championship game. Hobart quickly responds with a touchdown of its own. The Knights are in a dog fight with a bigger and badder dog.

Chapter 7: Perfection!

Still smarting from the blowout to Carmel a year before, the 1982 Castle football team rumbles through the regular season unchallenged and undefeated. After an easy opening playoff win against Richmond, the 11-0 Knights are forcing their way to center stage in Indiana High School football. If only the “experts” would give them their due.Castle Knights

Chapter 8: One More Score

With the score tied against Hobart during the 1982 state championship game, the Castle Knights are at a crossroads. Having gone further than any other Castle team and much further than the “experts” had allowed them go, they could lie down and take a 13-1 record as a major step forward, or they could reach for that brass ring. If you’re going to the championship game, you might as well try to win it, right?

Chapter 9: Martinsville, Myth and Mystery

After dispensing Richmond, the Knights must travel to play the Martinsville Artesians, a team they thoroughly beat the season before in a huge 35-7 upset. This time, however, the game would take place on the Artesians’ home turf, and the naive Knights, who would have battle both Martinsville’s past and present, had no idea what they would be walking into.

Chapter 10: The Way the Ball Bounces

Castle takes an improbable 20-7 lead on Hobart in the 1982 state championship game thanks to its not-so-secret weapon, Flea Flicker 600, yet Hobart won’t lie down, scoring 16 unanswered points to seize control of the game as the fourth quarter starts. Do the Knights have enough left in their tank for one more score?

Chapter 11: Exorcising the Ghosts of Carmel

The tough emotional victory over Martinsville gives the Knights what they’ve sought for the past year — another at the defending state champion Carmel Greyhounds. This time, however, the game will be on the Knights’ home turf. This time, it will be different. This time the Greyhounds will be the hunted and the Knights will be the hunter.

Chapter 12: How Sweet It Is!

Suddenly, finding themselves down 23-20 in a game they led the entire way, the Knights take possession and plod their way downfield in the 1982 state championship game. Facing a tough third-and-six, junior receiver Deon Chester makes an amazing back-breaking catch for a 36-yard reception that takes the air out of the Brickie defense. Scoring moments later to take the lead, quarterback Mike Davis would stick his head in the huddle for the last time and tell his teammates: “This is it. This is what we dreamed about. Let’s do it.”1982 Castle Knights Coaching Staff

Chapter 13: Greatness Never Leaves

The players and coaches would go their own ways. Some would go on to further greatness. Some would falter. Some would die. They learned, however, that championships are won more by actions off the field than on. The City of Martinsville, meanwhile, would continue on, desperate to shake the pall cast by its past. The Jenkins murder would finally be solved and the city exonerated, but for every two steps forward Martinsville seems to take to erase its past, continued racial incidents send it back a step.

Chapter 14: The Circle of Life

During a mid-season 2011 victory of archrival Evansville Reitz, a team the Knights hadn’t beaten in a decade, Castle quarterback Mitch Gilles connected on a 99-yard touchdown pass, erasing one of the last remaining varsity records of the 1982 state championship team. Gilles, the son of the Castle player who knocked down Hobart’s last-gasp pass in the state championship game 29 years before, had just brought the story of the Castle Knights full circle.

Father and Son football

Feb 11

“The Road to Paradise” outline

Chapter 14: The Circle of Life

During the 2011 football season, the Castle Knights would once again field one of top teams in southern Indiana, finishing the regular season undefeated for the first time since Coach John Lidy stepped down following the 2002 campaign.

Since Lidy’s retirement, the team posted records of 3-7, 9-4 and 4-6 under former Louisville Trinity Coach Andy Coverdale, who installed a pass-happy offense that broke many of the school’s passing records but didn’t necessarily translate into wins.

With the hiring of former Castle player Doug Hurt as head coach, the Knights have begun a steady climb back toward the top of the mountain of southern Indiana high school football. Under Hurt, the Knights have posted records of 8-3, 10-3, 8-4, 6-7, and 11-1 in the past five years.

The Knights won sectional championships 2008 and 2010 and were sectional runners up in 2009 and 2011. Aside from taking the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference championship in 2011, the Knights finished the regular season ranked 5th in class 5A, the program’s highest ranking since 2002.

Knight Time in Paradise has returned.

During a Sept. 23 game at Castle Stadium with Evansville Reitz, an animated overflow crowd watched the Knights beat the Panthers for the first time in a decade, 22-13. They also watched history being made.

Castle Knights Quarterback Mitch GillesStopping the Panthers with a goal line stand early in the game, the Castle offense lined up at their own one-yard line.Taking the snap, junior quarterback Mitch Gilles dropped three steps back into his own end zone scanning the field for a receiver. As the Panther linemen surrounded him, Gilles threw a bullet to junior Jon-Marc Anderson, who would pull the ball in at the 10-yard line and weave and dodge his way to a 99-yard touchdown.

The play would erase the 29-year-old school record for longest touchdown pass set in 1982 when senior quarterback Mike Davis connected with junior tight end Joe Huff for an 88-yard touchdown against Evansville Memorial. It would also tie the state record for longest touchdown pass.

Mitch Gilles, the son of Gary Gilles, the junior defensive back who slapped down Hobart’s final pass in the 1982 championship season, had just erased one of the last remaining records of his father’s championship team. If you wait long enough, life does indeed come full circle.

The 2012 campaign promises to be an interesting one for the Castle Knights football program. Aside from being the 30th anniversary of the Knights’ 1982 championship season, the current team seems poised to make some noise of its own as it returns Gilles and most of the skill position players from that 11-1 team.

Feb 10

“The Road to Paradise” outline

1982 Castle Knights State Championship Trophy

Chapter  13: Greatness Never Leaves

THE PLAYERS AND COACHES of the 1982 Indiana state AAA football champion Castle Knights would go their own ways. Years would pass. Five years, then ten, then 20, then 30. Many would go onto even more greatness on fields far removed from the gridiron. Some would stumble. Some would seek to escape the glare of their moment of glory. Some would die before they could finish their journey.

To a man, the players and coaches of that team don’t speak of their championship season in a blustery, “we kicked their butts” manner. Instead, they speak of it with a reserved respect, understanding what they accomplished and the good players and teams they had to beat to get there.

Some have put their championship rings away, some still wear them daily, some have even put directions in their wills to be buried with them.

Life has taught them that nothing lasts forever. It has given them what they wanted and taken from them things they once valued important. It has made them realize that we don’t usually comprehend the most significant moments of our lives as they are occurring. It takes time and the wisdom and reflection of age to fully understand that moments of greatness, while seemingly fleeting, never leave us.

Through it all, however, they learned something a coach once told them in a sweaty and jubilant locker room — that a state championship could never be taken away no matter what life would throw at them.

And most importantly, perhaps, they learned that in life as in football when push comes to shove the answer is being in the proper state of mind.

Next Chapter 14: The Circle of Life

Feb 09

“The Road to Paradise” outline

Chapter 12: How Sweet It Is!

THE KNIGHTS’ OFFENSE lines up with nine-and-half minutes separating them from a lifetime of pride or a lifetime of regrets. All those years of sweat and toil will come down to these next 570 seconds.

It’s third and six and the Knights are in desperate need of a first down as quarterback Mike Davis takes the snap. He drops back and sees junior Deon Chester in the right flat, throwing purposely high, not wanting anybody but his receiver to be able to get to the ball.Castle Knights raise their 1982 Championship trophy

But the pass is a little too high and Chester has to jump, barely getting a hand on it and flipping it even higher. The ball hangs in the air for only a split second, but it’s one of those split seconds that seems to last forever. As the ball starts its downward trajectory, Chester is now out of position and has to twist himself like a pretzel, arching so far back that it seems he might break in half.

And the ball falls into his hands.

Chester untangles himself and races up the sideline to Hobart’s 25-yard line for a 36-yard gain. If there is any lingering doubt that this championship will belong to the Knights, they evaporate with Chester’s miraculous catch.

A half dozen plays later, Chris Brosmer stumbles into the end zone for a touchdown giving the Knights a 23-20 lead with three minutes left.

Castle Coach John Lidy celebrates the Knights State Championship Win

Forced to go to the air, the Brickies are out of their element and when their fourth-down pass is knocked down by junior defensive back Gary Gilles with 26 seconds left, the Castle Knights are one snap away from the impossible.

Davis sticks his head in the offensive huddle, knowing Hobart can’t stop the clock.

“This is it,” Davis says to his excited teammates. “This is what we dreamed about. Let’s do it.”

Next Chapter 13: Greatness Never Leaves

Feb 08

“The Road to Paradise” outline


Chapter 11: Exorcising the Ghosts of Carmel

BEATING MARTINSVILLE had taken a lot out of the Knights and many wondered if they would suffer a letdown after such a tough, emotional game. While that might have been a possibility against some teams, Coach Lidy knew there would be no letdown when the Carmel Greyhounds came to town.

Carmel had throttled Castle 49-13 the year before. This year, the Greyhounds would travel to Paradise for a game that would decide who would play for the state championship. It wasn’t just the setting that was different. The feel of the game was different this time. This was a different Castle team — one that wasn’t about to be intimidated. Not this team, not this time, not on their home turf.

While Lidy acknowledged that he had modeled his football program after the successful Carmel program, the Greyhound coach wasn’t too impressed. As he and Lidy chatted during pregame warm ups, the Carmel coach told Lidy that he had “a nice little team.” Lidy knew what the coach meant. It was a slap in the face, his way of saying, “take your beating and go home.”Deon Chester gains yards against the Carmel Greyhounds

IF THE KNIGHTS wanted Carmel’s respect, they would have to take it. They would use Carmel’s dismissal of them as inspiration. And inspired they were.

The game would be a defensive slugfest in which the Knights would find themselves in charge of a shutout until the vaunted Greyhounds finally found the end zone with 73 seconds left. With their 21-8 victory over the defending state champs, the Knights had exorcized the demon that had haunted them for a year. And they would be playing for the state championship.

These Knights had now gone further than any Castle team before them. They had nothing left to prove to themselves or to southern Indiana. But if you’re going to the state championship, you might as well try to win it, right?

 Next — Chapter 12: How Sweet It Is!

Feb 07

“The Road to Paradise” outline

Chapter 10:The Way the Ball Bounces

HALFWAY THROUGH THE second quarter, the Castle Knights are holding the powerful Hobart Brickies without a first down in a game they are leading 14-7.

With the ball at midfield, quarterback Mike Davis is surprised by the play being sent into the huddle — 600 Flea Flicker.  Hobart no doubt knows it’s coming and might be looking for it at the end of the game, but not here with Castle leading. Davis takes the snap and launches a perfect missile to junior receiver Deon Chester, who flicks the ball effortlessly to senior running back Dave Brosmer streaking by. A few seconds later, Brosmer crosses the goal line for a 50-yard touchdown and a 20-7 lead.

The Hobart side of the stadium sits in silent shock. This is not supposed to be happening.

The Brickies squeak out a wobbly 40-yard field goal right before halftime to cut the lead to 20-10. It’s an ugly score, but it represents more than three points; the Brickies have taken momentum into the locker room.

The Knights, who have dominated nearly every facet of the game so far, fail to show up for the third quarter. Whether it’s because they haven’t caught their second wind, or because the play calling has become too conservative, or because special teams miscues are too much to overcome — whatever the reason — the Brickies score two touchdowns to take their first lead with nine-and-a-half minutes left in the game.

Suddenly finding themselves down 23-20 in a game they have thoroughly dominated, the Knights have nine-and-a-half minutes to right the ship and make history. Nine-and-a-half minutes separate them from a lifetime of prideful accomplishment or a lifetime of regret.

How would they respond?

Next — Chapter 11: Exorcising the Ghosts of Carmel