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2016 Season Review
REBELS CAPTURE NINTH STATE TITLE
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 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.
Senior quarterback Derek O’Connor rushed for two first-half touchdowns to give the Rebels a 14-6 halftime lead. The Roncalli lead increased to 21-6 after senior wideout Luke Smock scored on a 34-yard end around run. NorthWood answered with a touchdown and two-point conversion before O’Connor found junior receiver Jacob Luedeman for a 70-yard touchdown pass to put the Rebels up 28-14.
NorthWood scored another rushing touchdown and two-point conversion to pull within six (28-22). The Panthers looked to take the lead after a bad Rebel snap on fourth down set them up with first-and-10 at the Roncalli 18-yard line. The Roncalli defense held for three plays, and then on fourth down, junior cornerback Dylan Williams intercepted a pass inside the Rebel 10-yard line and returned it out across midfield.
On the ensuing drive, O’Connor capped a 50-yard drive with a 22-yard rushing touchdown, giving the Rebels a 34-22 lead. The Roncalli defense halted NorthWood a final time, and then the offense ran out the final 6:43 on the game clock.
O’Connor closed out one of the finest quarterbacking seasons in Roncalli history with 173 yards rushing and three touchdowns, to go with 154 passing yards and a score. He carried the ball a career-high 30 times and became just the third Rebel to score three rushing touchdowns in a state final, joining Sean Schembra (1999) and Joe Gillum (1985). On the defensive side, the Rebels forced two takeaways and held the high-powered NorthWood offense to 23 points below its scoring average.
Roncalli head coach Bruce Scifres earned his seventh state championship and is one of six coaches in state history to win at least seven state titles. Two of his seven titles – this season and a 14-12 win over NorthWood in 1993 – have come over the Panthers.
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.
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