Memorial football has another successful season end in 4A regional to No. 1 East Central
EVANSVILLE — Who even had Memorial to be in this position last month?
The outlook appeared low with three straight losses to end the regular season and an offense struggling to score with its fourth different starting quarterback. Reaching the second weekend in November looked optimistic at best.
Those circumstances make the latest postseason run impressive despite how it ended.
No. 1 East Central defeated No. 15 Memorial 47-7 in the Class 4A regional on Friday at Enlow Field. This result was not indicative of how the Tigers played recently but the winner was unsurprising.
The Trojans are one of the top teams in the state regardless of class.
“They’re a good football team,” Memorial coach John Hurley said. “You can’t give them anything. You could say we didn’t play well. That had a lot to do with we played a really good football team. I’m proud of our kids and what they accomplished.”
How did the regional get away from Memorial? It’s simple. East Central has Josh Ringer.
The Miami (Ohio) commit scored five touchdowns and amassed nearly 200 yards rushing in the victory. He had four scores by halftime as the Trojans (13-0) reached the end zone on six of their first seven possessions. There would have been a running clock at the break if not for a point-after attempt off the upright and a dropped two-point conversion.
Western Michigan commit Ryan Brotherton also had two scores for East Central, but the star was once again Ringer. He bounced off multiple defenders for his final score – his 50th rushing touchdown this season – early in the third quarter.
“He is as advertised,” Hurley said. “It was a big blow to lose (Tanner) Gries on the opening kickoff. You take away half your linebacking core.”
There were a few individual bright spots for the Tigers (9-4). One was another strong effort from junior linebacker Alex Broshears with 14 total tackles by halftime. Carson Anslinger also had his fourth interception of the season late in the second quarter.
Another player that could raise the ceiling for next season is Dylen Kendrick. The sophomore didn’t see the field much to start the season. He admittedly struggled adjusting to varsity football. You couldn’t tell in the regional championship.
Kendrick gave the offense a spark with a 65-yard touchdown run on a nice cutback.
“We got more comfortable as the year went on,” he said. “I just know what I’m doing (now). I realized some of the plays we have guys are there for the cutback. Film and learning how to play at the varsity level.”
The sophomore running back opened eyes in the postseason. He had over 100 total yards against Jasper and Reitz. Kendrick scored twice in the sectional championship and was close to the century mark again this week.
“What a competitor,” Hurley said. “As the year went on, he got better and better. You saw it tonight. He’s got flash. He’s going to be special.”
East Central, the reigning state champion, will move up to Class 5A next season with this victory because of the success factor rule. The Trojans host New Palestine (11-2) in the semistate.
This was the seventh trip to the regional round in eight years for Memorial. An impressive run considering the past five years have come up a class. It will stay in Class 4A again next year after winning sectional titles in both seasons of the current cycle.
That was not a certainty a month ago. But once again, Memorial was at its best when it mattered.
“They carry themselves well and didn’t get their heads down or argue,” Kendrick said of the upperclassmen. “They set a good example of how to be a good teammate and play football.”
The Tigers will graduate 14 seniors including multiple starters. They still return a good core next year with the benefit of being one of two Southern Indiana Athletic Conference teams to reach the second weekend of November.
There’s a reason if you ask Hurley.
“We have good kids,” he said. “They get held accountable across the board. You have to answer the bell every day, whether it’s in the classroom or the athletic field. Accountability is a big deal and it helps us in our football program. All of those things go hand-in-hand from our faith to our family to academics.”
Follow Courier & Press sports reporter Kyle Sokeland on X (formerly Twitter) @kylesokeland.