December 16, 2016

Hard work leads Roncalli to perfection, state championship

The football team of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis is pictured on Nov. 25 in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis after winning the Indiana class 4A state football championship. (Submitted photo)

The football team of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis is pictured on Nov. 25 in Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis after winning the Indiana class 4A state football championship. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

Coach Bruce Scifres couldn’t stop smiling as he looked around the gym of Roncalli High School in Indianapolis on Nov. 25—a gym packed with the fans, friends and family members of the Rebel football team that earlier that day had culminated an undefeated season with the Indiana class 4A state championship.

Still, in speaking to his team and the crowd during the joyous celebration, Roncalli’s head football coach since 1990 wanted to stress one last, serious point to his players.

“There’s a final page of being a champion of life,” Scifres says, recalling the essence of what he told his players and the crowd following the team’s dramatic 34-22 win over Northwood High School at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis.

“It’s not so much about what you get when you reach your destination. It’s a lot more about what you become.

“I encouraged them to remain humble and to lead our lives in a way that is pleasing to God.”

Scifres believes that God is pleased with the way the 2016 team approached its season.

“To go 15 and 0 will go down as a team in Roncalli legend,” says the coach who earned his seventh state championship at the school. “Way beyond that, they taught us all great lessons about maintaining faith and hope, and exhibiting the merits of hard work when faced with adversity.”

A significant part of the adversity the team faced centered on assistant coach Vince Guerrini, a 1975 Roncalli graduate who had been teaching and coaching at his alma mater since 2014. Guerrini died of cancer on Nov. 11, two hours before the regional championship game.

“That was really hard,” Scifres says. “He was a Roncalli Rebel through and through. Throughout his sickness, he was a big motivating factor for us. Watching him fight inspired us to fight and not give up.”

That attitude prevailed time after time during the championship season.

“Of our 15 wins, eight of them were by seven points or less,” Scifres says. “And six of those wins came literally in the last 30 seconds before the game was decided. They just had the ability to make plays when the game was on the line.”

The players also now have an understanding of the best way to approach their lives in the future, Scifres believes. He talked about that approach with his players in his pre-game remarks before the state championship.

“I talked about committing themselves to excellence in all aspects of their lives. To live life with a sense of gratitude, duty and honor. To make the most of the gifts God has given us. To never give up. To fight, because life is often a fight.

“The lessons they learned about staying focused and relying on our faith will stay with them after athletics.” †

Local site Links:

Like this story? Then share it!