Nov. 29, 2014

Big defensive play sends North Vermillion over Pioneer in Class A
The North Vermillion  Falcons, with the No. 1 defense in Class A football, used that asset when they needed it most in the state championship game.

Clinging to a one-point lead in the final 2 minutes, North Vermillion forced and recovered a fumble by the Pioneer Panthers and held on for a 27-26 victory. Dakoda Chapman forced the fumble, and Braeden Hollowell jumped on it at midfield. The stout defensive play preserved the Falcons' triumph over Pioneer and the top offense in Class A.

The Falcons surrendered 451 total yards to Pioneer while collecting just 270 themselves. But North Vermilion produced a timely 10-play, 64-yard drive for the winning score with 2:49 remaining. Adam Scott made the extra point that nudged the Falcons ahead.

North Vermillion won its first football state title in its first finals appearance. Coach Brian Crabtree's team, ranked second in the Associated Press poll, completed a perfect 14-0 season while defeating four consecutive top-10 clubs at the end.

Jacob Earl rushed for 108 yards on 21 attempts for the Falcons. Cody Wright completed 12-of-24 passes for 162 yards and two touchdowns. Earl caught three passes for 72 yards and a pair of scores.

Early in the second quarter, North Vermillion's Vaughn DePugh returned an interception 95 yards for a touchdown. That set a record for a scoring interception for all classes.

Coach Mike Johnson's Pioneer team, ranked fifth by AP, finished 13-2. The high-scoring Panthers averaged 53.2 points in beating their first five opponents in the tournament. They surpassed 60 three times.

The Panthers amassed 415 rushing yards in the title-game loss, led by 157 from Justin Mersch and 113 from Keith Nies.

Pioneer’s Parker Englert named Eskew Mental Attitude Award winner
At the conclusion of the state championship game, the IHSAA Executive Committee named Parker Englert of Pioneer High School as the winner of the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award in Class A football.

Parker also participates in track, golf, and band. He received gold ratings in Solo and Ensemble Competition as well as the Most Improved and MVP awards for golf.  He not only excels at sports and band, he also excels in the classroom and is a member of the National Honor Society. 

He is the son of Mike and Sally Englert of Logansport, Ind.  He plans to major in engineering but is undecided on where he will attend college.

Each year the IHSAA Executive Committee selects a senior player who was nominated by his principal and coach and was determined to have best demonstrated mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability. The award, named in honor of the IHSAA’s third commissioner from 1962-76.

The Indianapolis Colts presented a $1,000 scholarship to Pioneer High School in the name of Parker Englert. The Colts have been the presenting sponsor of the entire football state tournament since 2009 and are sponsoring the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award.

Longest Interception Return
Overall:  95 by Vaughn Depugh, North Vermillion vs. Pioneer
A:  95 by Vaughn Depugh, North Vermillion vs. Pioneer

Most Touchdown Receptions (tied)
2 by Jacob Earl, North Vermillion