Excerpt from Chapter 11: Exorcising of the Ghosts of Carmel
Carmel knew the shuffle was coming and the Greyhounds stayed at the top of the stadium, refusing to climb down the steps to the field until Castle shuffled first. The officials relayed the message to Castle and told them to shuffle first.
Castle assistant coach Johnny Evers explained, however, that his team was under its goal post where it was supposed to be and Carmel had not even entered the stadium. Castle, he said, would shuffle once Carmel started entering the stadium and would be on its sideline before the Greyhounds even reached their bench. The officials agreed and made Carmel begin entering the stadium.
Once the Greyhound players were making their way through the crowd, Castle began its shuffle. They would have to watch the Knights’ entrance.
Head Coach John Lidy made a point of seeking out Carmel Coach Jim Belden to shoot the breeze before the game. It didn’t go well. When Lidy returned to the Castle sideline, Evers noticed that something had lit the coach’s fuse.
“What happened?” Evers asked.
“You won’t believe what that guy just said.”
“What’d he say?”
The still steaming Lidy could barely get the words out.
“He said, ‘You know coach, you got a nice little team down there’.”
It wasn’t the words that steamed Lidy so much as the condescending and dismissive tone behind them: You’ve got a nice little team that’s had a nice little season; now take your beating and call it a year. Word quickly spread among the coaches and players. Belden had just given the Knights the blackboard material they needed.
Belden’s players would do their own to light the Knights’ fire. The pre-game coin flip had actually taken place in the school’s gymnasium right outside the locker rooms where the game officials met with Knights’ quarterback Mike Davis and linebacker Rodney Russell as well as Carmel’s captains, which included senior quarterback Scott Rogers.
“They looked at us smirking, like we weren’t anything,” Russell said. “All that did was fire us up.”
The Knights weren’t just playing Carmel that night. They weren’t just playing the defending state champs for the opportunity to play for the state championship. They were playing the entire state of Indiana.