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3A STATE TITLE GAME: Concordia Lutheran vs. Lawrenceburg - Five things to watch

Concordia senior Peterson Kerlegrand and the rest of the Cadets are looking to bring home the program's first state championship this weekend. (News-Sentinel file photo)
Concordia senior Peterson Kerlegrand and the rest of the Cadets are looking to bring home the program's first state championship this weekend. (News-Sentinel file photo)
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.The Associated Press
Thursday, November 24, 2016 09:01 pm
Concordia Lutheran (12-2) seeks its first-ever football state championship when it takes on Lawrenceburg (13-1) on Saturday at 3:30 p.m. at Lucas Oil Stadium in the Class 3A state title game.  Here are five things to watch as the Cadets look to make history in Indianapolis: 

1. Concordia's defense of Austin Bowling

Lawrenceburg's top offensive threat is running back Austin Bowling, a 6-foot, 220-pound physical specimen with a perfect name for a kid that has rushed for over 3,000 yards on the season. 

The Tigers do a great job of moving Bowling around in a variety of formations - from the pistol right behind quarterback Reid Strobl to the deep back when Strobl is right under center. Bowling is also a threat to line up in the shotgun and receive the direct snap, as he did for a rushing touchdown against Brownstown in last week's semistate victory. 

The Cadets have faced athletic rushers all season along, but Bowling is a different breed in that he seems to get better the more hits he takes. He rarely goes down on first contact and has some speed to run away from defenders in the open field. 

Concordia needs a solid push up front with its defensive line - keyed by Trey Freeman. Its pursuit also needs to be on point with its linebackers, led by senior Gabe Vohs. 

Slow down Bowling and you take Lawrenceburg completely away from what it wants to do. That's easier said than done. 

2. Concordia's speed

The Lucas Oil Stadium turf is a perfect playing surface for a fast and fast-playing Concordia offense. 

The Cadets put up over 42 points per game this season without playing on an artificial surface. An offense that is able to beat teams in a variety of different ways with numerous personnel will play on a field that maximizes team speed and agility. 

Concordia practiced at Lucas Oil Stadium on Wednesday and moved indoors today to practice as it looks to grow accustomed to playing on turf rather than grass. 

When it comes to finding decided advantages for Concordia in this matchup, playing on turf is a definite. 

3. Reid Strobl

While Bowling leads the way for the Tigers, quarterback Reid Strobl is no slouch. The 6-1, 205-pound signalcaller has thrown for 2,157 yards and 28 touchdowns this season against just six interceptions. 

Strobl is at his best when he does not have to throw too much. The senior has thrown more than 12 passes in a game just three times this season. 

While he is overshadowed a bit by Bowling at first glance, Strobl is a capable quarterback who can make the throws necessary to win. Concordia must focus on Bowling, but cannot forget the fact that Strobl is a capable weapon in his own right. 

4. Battle up front

Concordia's offensive line was a question mark entering the season, but the unit has performed masterfully this season. From protecting Morrison in the pocket to opening holes for Peterson Kerlegrand in the run game. 

Lawrenceburg will be a challenge for the Cadets, with the stout Parris up front along with Eli Gannaway (5-10, 241) and Jonah Rolfes (6-1, 200). 

Concordia has faced big and ferocious defensive fronts throughout the year - particularly Homestead and Snider - and have held its own. The Cadets should be prepared to win the battle in the trenches on Saturday. 

5. Nerves

Neither of these teams are steeped in tradition when it comes to winning state championships. Lawrenceburg's two titles came way back in the disco days of the 1970s, with Concordia appearing in the championship for the first time ever. 

There will no doubt be some nerves on both sides come kickoff time on Saturday afternoon. The difference in the game be which team is able to handle the butterflies better. 

That can be easier said than done in a massive facility with thousands in the stands. 


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