INDIANAPOLIS – As the clock hit zero to conclude Bishop Luers' 40-28 victory over Cardinal Ritter in the Class 2A State Championship Game on Friday night, senior Jaylon Smith laid on his back staring at the Lucas Oil Stadium roof.
It was over. Four years. Four titles.
The Class of 2013 will depart Bishop Luers with four state championships, equaling a mark only Warren Central (2003-2006) and Lafayette Central Catholic (2009-2012) have matched.
Smith rushed for 150 yards and three touchdowns in the victory on 21 carries. Cardinal Ritter was never able to bring him down without multiple players hanging on or until Smith had broken several tackles.
It was a clinic on how dominant and dynamic of a player Smith is at the high school level.
Surprisingly, relief was as much a presence for Smith as elation on Friday. He was candid when asked how it felt to carry the ball so many times, an aspect of his game that will likely disappear as he focuses purely on linebacker at the college level.
“I'm glad it is over honestly,” Smith said. “I am now moving forward on focusing on one side of the ball, perfecting my moves and not taking any plays off on defense because of being tired.”
Smith added four tackles and a sack on defense, but his impact was bigger than his stat line. Coach Steve Keefer sent pressure from all different angles at Cardinal Ritter quarterback Jake Purichia throughout the game, with Smith getting into the backfield several times and disrupting timing routes and forcing Purichia to throw sooner than he wanted.
Perhaps Smith's most signature play on the night came in the fourth quarter, but was negated by penalty. Running to the outside and turning the corner, Smith was confronted by a Ritter defender going for a low tackle. Smith hurdled the defender and landed on his feet, gaining a few more yards to appear to pick up the first down.
But hurdling a defender is illegal in Indiana high school football and the flag was thrown.
“It was demoralizing to be honest,” Smith said. “As a fan watching guys like (Notre Dame running back Theo Riddick) hurdle over people. I was kind of defenseless (with the defender going for the legs) and I had to do something.”
Smith's legacy at Bishop Luers may not be completely over. A big cog for James Blackmon Sr. and the basketball team, Smith has yet to decide whether he will play on the hardwood this winter.
“I am not sure right now, I got another week to decide about it,” Smith said. “I really love those guys, but I just have to sit down, look at my body and talk to my family about it and see.”
Plus, there is a little piece of hardware Smith would not mind adding to his collection before heading to South Bend.
“I want (the Indiana Mr. Football award),” Smith said. “I believe I deserve it in being a student-athlete. No one from Fort Wayne has ever won it. It would be an honor to bring that back to the city.”
On Friday night, Smith proved to plenty of people that he is deserving of such an award.
BISHOP LUERS 40, INDIANAPOLIS CARDINAL RITTER 28
Bishop Luers 0 27 0 13 — 40
Cardinal Ritter 0 7 8 14 — 28
BL-Jaylon Smith 4 run (Sean Katen kick)
BL-Michael Rogers 42 pass from Quinn Cook (Katen kick)
BL-Smith 24 run (kick failed)
CR-Jake Hagan 16 pass from Jake Purichia (Riley Ellington kick)
CR-Hagan 38 punt return (Ellington kick)
BL-Tyvel Jemison 1 run (run failed)
CR-Hagan 15 pass from Purichia (Ellington kick)
BL-Smith 16 run (Katen kick)
First downs 24 19
Rushing yards 311 87
Passing yards 113 238
Penalties-yds 9-65 8-54
Turnovers 0 0
Rushing: BL/Smith 21-150, Jemison 9-88, Charles Gaston 6-33, Rogers 4-28, Cooper 3-13; CR/Logan Beaman 17-73, Purichia 10-14.
Passing: BL/Cook 8-10-87-0; Noah Wyzenski 1-1-26-0; CR/Purichia 19-34-238-0; Hagan 0-1-0-0.
Receiving: BL/Rogers 4-68, Matt Williamson 1-26, Braden Thiele 1-20, Nick Morken 1-3, Cooper 1-1, Smith 1-(-5); CR/Hagan 9-138, Alex Parrett 4-27, Jalen Chandler 2-20, Beaman 1-48, Reggie Gayden 1-3, Bryan Schmidt 1-2, Hagan 1-0.