December 4, 2015

Bishop Chatard earns record 13th state football crown

Bishop Chatard High School players and coaches are pictured with the Class 3A state football trophy on Nov. 27 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo by Emily Smith)

Bishop Chatard High School players and coaches are pictured with the Class 3A state football trophy on Nov. 27 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo by Emily Smith)

By John Shaughnessy

On the night before his team won a state championship, Bishop Chatard head football coach Vince Lorenzano shared a special moment with the 30 seniors on the team.

“I told them, ‘I know I get crazy at times, but I love you,’ ” Lorenzano recalls. “I also told them that I knew they would leave everything they have on the field.”

The coach added a different approach the next day in his pre-game talk before the state championship. After instructing the team to “be yourself, stay the course and do the things you’ve done,” he added a few comments that made the players laugh.

“They’re just teenagers,” the coach says. “You don’t want them to feel the stresses of life, at least not too many at that age. They were loose going into the game, and they felt good about themselves. When teenagers feel good about themselves, that’s where you want them to be.”

By the early evening of Nov. 27, the Bishop Chatard players felt downright ecstatic. The Trojans danced, sang and celebrated their 31-7 win over the team from West Lafayette High School in the Class 3A Indiana High School Athletic Association football championship.

It was a record-setting 13th state football championship for the archdiocese’s Indianapolis North Deanery high school.

“It’s a testament to the whole group of great coaches who have come through here,” Lorenzano says about the record. “It’s the combination of great kids, great assistant coaches, great families, the leadership of the school, and a great student body.”

The coach especially praised this year’s student fans, who received the “best spirit” award from one of the Indianapolis television stations. He also heaped praise on his team.

“It was very exciting to see these guys achieve what they did,” he says. “People weren’t sure where this team was headed earlier in the season, including me. We had a lot of injuries, and it was a tough schedule on top of that. I thought that’s where the resiliency and toughness of the group shined through.”

The seniors set the standard, including in the classroom.

“They have outstanding academics,” Lorenzano notes. “Ten of those guys have a 4.0 [out of 4.0 grade point average]. Eight or nine were academic all-state. They’re also athletic. There are a lot of kids in that group who play multiple sports. Overall, it’s just a real smart group of kids. They played smart football. I was really appreciative of that.”

He also appreciates how their Catholic faith is ingrained in their approach to the game and their lives.

“We’re a faith-driven school,” Lorenzano says. “We go to Mass before every game, and we pray before and after every practice. Faith is deep down in the core of this group. After every practice, we had intentions. There were always 20 to 25 kids praying for someone. They really understood what it was for, and they were comfortable with it. That was nice to see.”

As much as he praised his team, Lorenzano downplayed earning his seventh state title at Bishop Chatard.

“For me, it’s a great feeling for the kids and the school. Somewhere along the line, my ego got checked,” he says, citing the effect of the deaths of a brother and a few friends. “If I hadn’t won any state championships, I’d still think I was doing what was right for the kids, and modeling what I think is right for them. We’ve made mistakes, like all people do, but you always try to do the right thing, no matter what.

“It’s not winning as much as getting them ready to play and staying true to yourself. I want them to remember the good things—and for them to learn. There are going to be tough moments, and they have to work through them. It’s to have them become better men.”

Lorenzano believes that goal has been reached with the members of this year’s championship team. He’s grateful for the opportunity to coach them.

“I just want to thank the school, the administrators and the archdiocese for always being supportive of me,” he says. “I’m a Catholic school guy at my roots. I’ve been in public schools, and there was something missing to me. What happens at these schools is important. It’s not about state championships. It’s seeing a kid grow. And the leadership at these schools is outstanding.” †

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