Titans Look to Seal the Deal on First State Crown

It's been a season a decade in the making for Gibson Southern. And now finally, with the state title game just three days away, the Titans show no signs of slowing down.

Posted: Nov 23, 2021 7:22 PM
Updated: Nov 24, 2021 5:05 PM

It's been a season a decade in the making for Gibson Southern. And now finally, with the state title game just three days away, the Titans show no signs of slowing down.

"It was just a relief to get over that hump," says Gibson Southern senior quarterback Brady Allen.

"I was so exciting for my team, for myself, for my coaches," says Gibson Southern senior wide receiver Rory Heltsley.

"It was great," says Gibson Southern head coach Nick Hart. "It was a moment I really enjoyed."

After ten long seasons, the fourth time proved to be the charm for Nick Hart's Gibson Southern Titans, as they finally tasted sweet victory in the Indiana Semi-States, in thunderous fashion, beating Tri-West this passed Saturday 44-7.

"We executed at a really high level," says Hart. "We were able to jump on them really fast. Our first drive was four plays. Then they went three and out, and we scored in one play. It was 14-0 really fast. And then we kind of poured it on in the third quarter , then we got a big turnover to put it away. I thought our guys just did a great job."

It was yet another crown won during this season for the record books at Gibson Southern. However, the seeds of this victory were planted in the ashes of a Titan semi-state defeat six years ago.

"Before the game, I kind of just gave myself some time to kind of reflect on that day when they got beat by Chatard in 2015," says Allen. "Set down and kind of went through the day. Things that happened and reflected on that. Main thing that stuck out to me was, after we lost, going passed Lucas Oil and thinking "We should be playing there next weekend". And I told myself, I don't want that to be us, and I think we're too good of a team not to be there."

"I remember going there and they got upset in such a big game in the snow bowl," says Heltsley. "To this day, I still go back and we'll watch their games, see what we can do better going back from that. To be able to pick up from that team, out it in our game and be able to win this game for them and the other teams that went to semi-state and weren't able to pass through, it's huge for us and this program."

One of the things that separates this Titans team from those of the past is their dynamic duo in the passing game. Purdue-bound Brady Allen has thrown for nearly 4-thousand yards and 53 touchdowns, with more than a third going to All-State wide receiver Rory Heltsley. But as seemingly natural as the connection is, it was partnership forged in hard work.

"The chemistry we've had from training together," says Allen, "practicing together so much. Just really coming together, knowing where we're going to be, when we need to be there, I think has really been the big thing for us. Having that trust in each other. Knowing when things go wrong, we can throw it up for each other and he can go make a play. I think just having that trust in each other has been the main thing."

"Even before the season, we put in some stuff," says Heltsley. "It was just me and him. We see something on the field we're going to call out so we know to change something, so we're on the same page. We kind of have that chemistry. We just know what each of other is thinking on the field. It really helps. And that goes for off the field too."

Earning that ticket to Indiana football's big dance is one thing, etching your name on the trophy is another, and despite this being head coach Nick Hart's first time as a head coach, he knows that better than most. His John father led Reitz to a State title in 2007 and Warren Central in 2009.

"It's like a bowl game," says Hart. "It's just a different week. I think when we get there, the game's going to take over for you. Just making sure we're dialed in and focused and having a great week this week. That's what I kind of talked to the kids about. " I want you to enjoy the moment and look around every once in a while and kind of soak it in before Friday, but we've still got a football game to get ready for."

While this is the first trip to the state title game for the Titans, their opponents from Brebeuf Jesuit have been there twice before, and led by 3-thousand yard passer Nolan Buchman and a solid running back by committee, the Brave will be a tough final test this Friday.

"They've got my roommate going up to Purdue with me up there," says Allen. "We kind of talked before the season, saying see each other Week 15, and here we are. But they're a heck of a football team. They've got a lot of really good players and they're going to make it tough on us, so hopefully we can do the same to them."

"They've got some really dynamic receivers on offense that make big plays," says Hart. "Their defense is really good. They fly around on defense. They've got a good front and then some guys that fly around on the third level and make plays for them. Definitely a big challenge but it's the state championship and that's what you'd expect at this level."

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