Nov. 27, 2021

Marauders roll past Northridge for first football state championship
Mt. Vernon (Fortville) scored early and often in the Class 4A state championship game and claimed the school’s first-ever state championship with a 45-14 win over Northridge.

Mt. Vernon quarterback Gehrig Slunaker threw for 235 yards and three touchdown passes, while Keagan LaBelle ran for 76 yards and a score to lead the Marauders offense. The defense did its part, as well, holding the Raiders to 178 total yards and also scored on 59-yard interception return by Ashden Gentry. Gentry also caught a touchdown pass from Slunaker.

The game featured both teams making their first state finals appearances, the Marauders took a 7-0 lead less than three minutes into the contest on a LaBelle’s 24-yard run and never trailed.

The Marauders had advanced past the regional only once before (2014), but finished the season 14-1, winning their final 14 games after an opening-game loss to Noblesville.

The win also allows coach Vince Lidy to become only the fifth first-year coach to win a state title. The win also makes Lidy and his late father, John, only the third father-son combo to win a state championship – joining Bud (Sheridan) and Kevin Wright (Warren Central, Carmel) along with Nick (Gibson Southern) and John Hart (Evansville Reitz, Warren Central).

Northridge, of first-year coach Chad Eppley, finishes 10-5.

Mt. Vernon’s Gehrig Slunaker earns the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award
During the awards ceremony, Gehrig Slunaker of Mt. Vernon High School was announced by the IHSAA Executive Committee as the recipient of the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award in Class 4A Football.

The award is annually presented to a senior who is nominated by his principal and coach, and has demonstrated excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability during his four years of high school.

Academically, Gehrig currently carries a 3.81 GPA and is ranked in the top 20% of his senior class.  He has been involved with AfriCan, Best Buddies, Junior National Honors Society, the Leadership Council, and the Marauder Mob (Spirit Club).

He was a Junior All-State selection last season, All-Conference the last two years, and has school records in single season passing, single season touchdown passing, career completions, career passing and career passing touchdowns. Besides football, he has also participated in baseball for three years and basketball for two years.

He is the son of Jeff and Jennifer Slunaker of McCordsville, IN. He is undecided on his college choice but plans to play football and study Business and Sports Management.

The award is named in honor of Commissioner Phil N. Eskew, who served as the IHSAA’s third commissioner from 1962-76. Under his leadership, the IHSAA football state tournament was initiated in 1973.

The Indianapolis Colts, the presenting sponsor of the IHSAA state tournament, presented a $1,000 scholarship to Mt. Vernon’s general scholarship fund in the name of Gehrig Slunaker.