The Hamilton Heights High School football team has the shortest drive of the non-Indianapolis teams in the state football championships: 35 miles. Despite the proximity, however, it's history with Bishop Chatard is limited. The Trojans have won three postseason games against the Huskies in the past decade and two were close -- 13-10 in 2007 and 14-0 in '02. Bishop Chatard won the most recent meeting 49-7 in 2010.
Here are five things to watch when the teams meet in the Class 3A title game at noon Saturday at Lucas Oil Stadium:
1.Hamilton Heights is making its first appearance in the state-championship game.
Chatard, on the other hand, has made 12, winning a state-record 11. But Huskies coach Mitch Street -- who has a 22-4 record in his two years at Heights -- doesn't want his team getting caught up in that.
"Chatard is a team that, obviously, has an aura about it," Street said. "They've got history. And we haven't been there. But this is a pretty resilient group. We'll just say focused on the task at hand."
2.Chatard's schedule pays off . . . again.
It's pretty common for the Trojans to load up their regular-season schedule with 4A and 5A teams -- as well as perennial Ohio powers -- in preparation for the state tournament. It's paid off in the past two tournaments; the Trojans have outscored their 12 opponents by 29.2 points per game. This year it's out-scored its five postseason opponents 234-43. But Chatard coach Vince Lorenzano isn't sure his team has peaked as much as the numbers indicate.
"It's really hard to determine that sort of thing," he said. "What we look at is, are they playing the game we've planned out for them? Are they getting better? Some guys are. But other guys are playing the same way they did earlier in the season. But what I have noticed is that each week our defense seems to get faster. And I think that's all 11 guys."
3.Hamilton Heights likes to spread things around.
The Huskies average 43.2 points and 369.1 yards per game, 201 rushing, 168.1 passing. Quarterback Corey Beck has thrown for 2,251 yards and 25 touchdowns, connecting with 12 different receivers. Running back Conner Faulkner has run for 1,187 yards and 24 touchdowns.
"We've got so many players who are weapons for this team," Faulkner said. "It's a really fun offense to be a part of because you can't key on any one person."
Chatard, meanwhile, is giving up less than 100 yards per game rushing and has two running backs -- Pete Hartley (2,041 yards, 27 TDs) and Alex Kimack (756, 11) -- who have surpassed 200 yards rushing in a game during the postseason.
"When you're running the ball like we are and you're stopping the run like we have, obviously your guys up front are playing well," Lorenzano said.
4.Each team has plenty of playmakers.
Two, however, stand out: Hamilton Heights' Grant Weatherford and Chatard's Joe Fagan. Weatherford can score on offense (39 catches, 733 yards and 10 touchdowns) or special teams (30.9 yards per punt return, seven touchdowns). He also has 66 tackles and three interceptions. Meanwhile, Fagan leads the Trojans in receiving (30 catches, 538, five scores), averages nearly 30 yards per kick return, has two punts returned for touchdowns and has picked off six passes.
5.Chatard doesn't worry about history.
Chatard has a chance to leave 3A -- the Trojans have accumulated the six points through the tournament success factor to move up to 4A -- with three consecutive state titles. It's a feat Chatard has only accomplished once before -- from 2001-03 -- and a feat that matters little to Lorenzano.
"We don't talk about that at all," he said. "All we talk about is the next play. We could lose this game and afterward I could tell you that we played a heck of a game. It's not just about winning and losing. If we play to the level we want to play at, that's what we're shooting for."