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Roncalli Football Team

2016 Season Review


In a season full of improbable comebacks and goal-line stands, the football Rebels capped off a perfect season with a 34-22 win over second-ranked NorthWood in the Class 4A state final at Lucas Oil Stadium. With the win, the Rebels grabbed their first state title since 2004 and became only the fifth program in Indiana history to win at least nine titles.

In 48 years of Roncalli football, the 2016 Rebels are one of only three teams in program history to finish a season with an undefeated mark. The 1993 (14-0) and 1999 (15-0) teams also accomplished the feat. This year’s team had to win eight games by eight points or less and navigate one of Class 4A’s toughest schedules to get to 15-0.

It started in week one, as senior quarterback Derek O’Connor connected on an 80-yard touchdown pass to senior receiver Nick Fischer with 18 seconds left to lift the Rebels to a 25-21 win at Southport. Two weeks later, the Rebel defense stopped Bishop Chatard four times inside the 3-yard line in the final minute to preserve a 21-14 home win. The following week, senior lineman Ben Walesky tackled a Plainfield ball carrier at the 1-yard line on the game’s final play and the Rebels escaped with a 7-0 road win. The Rebels’ offense ran out the clock to seal road wins at Brebeuf Jesuit (14-6) and Guerin Catholic (28-21). The win at Guerin Catholic clinched the first-ever Circle City Conference title for the Rebels.

In the postseason run to Lucas Oil Stadium, senior kicker Patrick Sandler twice won games on the road with field goals on the game’s final play. The Rebels trailed by nine (33-24) with 4:30 remaining in the sectional semifinal at Lebanon. After a touchdown and a defensive stop, Sandler’s 21-yard field goal lifted the Rebels to a 34-33 win. Two weeks later, Sandler nailed a 30-yarder to beat seventh-ranked East Central, 24-21, in the semi-state.

O’Connor set two school passing records, completing 70.5% of his passes for the season and connecting on 13-of-13 passes in the win at Guerin Catholic. O’Connor finished the season with 18 touchdown passes and an additional 10 rushing touchdowns. Senior running back Kenny Gillum led the team with 17 rushing scores and 1,282 yards rushing.

Junior receiver Jacob Luedeman led the Rebels in receptions (37), receiving yards (626) and touchdown catches (6). Junior linebacker Cade Morgan led the Rebels with 150 tackles. Junior linemen Jones Asher and Tony Schott each registered team-best five sacks. Senior defensive back Gabe Otley grabbed a team-high six interceptions.

Walesky was named to the Indiana Football Coaches Association’s Top 50 team as an offensive lineman. The team consists of the state’s top 50 players, regardless of class. O’Connor and senior linebacker Josh Swan were each named to the IFCA’s Class 4A All-State team. Morgan was selected to the IFCA’s Class 4A Junior All-State team. O’Connor, Morgan and senior offensive lineman Will English were all picked to the Associated Press Class 4A All-State team. Walesky and senior linebacker Christian Brueggemann were named honorable mention all-state by the Associated Press. English, Brueggemann and Sandler were tabbed to the All-Marion County team by the county coaches. Gillum, O’Connor, Otley, Swan, Walesky and seniors Jacob Fryar (tight end), Alex Kuntz (safety) and Marc Roland (offensive line) were all named honorable mention all-county.

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  • Southside Harley-Davidson Wings of Angels Ride
    Time: 9:00 am
  • St. Vincent de Paul
    Time: 7:45 am
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