INDIANAPOLIS — Coming into Friday night’s IHSAA Class 5A Sectional 13 semifinal the Zionsville Eagles faced a very tall task.
No. 5 rated Indianapolis Cathedral entered with 19-straight tournament wins and 29 of their last 30 on their way to winning four class 4A state championships in five years before moving up to 5A.
For 46 minutes, the Eagles played them even, despite starting quarterback Joshua Hinkle leaving in the first quarter with a serious injury. But, Cathedral scored a pair of touchdowns in the final 2:03 minutes to earn a hard fought 35-21 victory.
“This is certainly a tough one to go out on,” Zionsville coach Larry McWhorter said, who was coaching his final game for the Eagles after 18 years. “I hate to leave with this. This is a nice bunch of kids and really hard working, but I hate to see it end like this.”
The worst moment of the night, however, involved Hinkle.
With 1:12 left in the first quarter and Zionsville trailing 7-0 Hinkle kept the ball on a read option, but took a vicious helmet-to-helmet hit that left him prone on the turf for several minutes.
Hinkle had to be removed from the field via ambulance and his status was not known by the end of the game.
The injury forced sophomore Trevor Leichty into action, and the Eagles did not waste time testing the defense with him. On the very first play after a lengthy delay for the injury, Leichty found Ben Kocher for a 52-yard playaction touchdown pass.
“I am very proud of him,” McWhorter said. “He probably didn’t expect to play much, but he performed extremely well. He really only made one mistake, but he is young, and he will learned from that.”
Riding the momentum of the score, the Zionsville defense got a stop, but the offense was pinned on its own 6 yard line after a solid punt by Cathedral.