December 13, 2019

Seniors help lead Bishop Chatard to state championship

Bishop Chatard High School football players, coaches, cheerleaders and fans celebrate the team’s 34-3 over Heritage Hills on Nov. 29 to win the Class 3A  Indiana State High School Athletic Association championship. Chatard is the archdiocesan high school for the Indianapolis North Deanery. (Submitted photo)

Bishop Chatard High School football players, coaches, cheerleaders and fans celebrate the team’s 34-3 over Heritage Hills on Nov. 29 to win the Class 3A Indiana State High School Athletic Association championship. Chatard is the archdiocesan high school for the Indianapolis North Deanery. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

Rob Doyle’s answer came instantly when the head coach of the Bishop Chatard High School football team was asked about the best part of winning a state championship on Nov. 29.

“The seniors,” he said.

Four years ago, Doyle was the head coach of the freshman team at Chatard, the archdiocesan high school for the Indianapolis North Deanery.

Now, in his third year as the program’s varsity head coach, Doyle led that same group of youths as they won the Class 3A Indiana State High School Athletic Association championship by beating the team from Heritage Hills High School 34-3.

“We saw them from the first day as freshmen, teaching them how to introduce themselves, to seniors winning a state championship,” Doyle said. “Their effort and their attitude and their ability to bring the others along was amazing. For our young guys to have that example really paid dividends. It was a credit to the seniors—the type of players they are and the type of persons they are.”

The seniors’ influence led to two defining traits of the team, Doyle said.

“The first thing is toughness. This is a very tough, hard-nosed group of kids. The second thing is their gratitude—gratitude for the brotherhood they have. They learned to rely on each other, play for each other and sacrifice for each other. That takes a lot for kids to look beyond themselves. When you combine that toughness with that brotherhood, you have something special.”

That combination helped lead the team to a 14-1 record on the season, including defeating last year’s state champion in Class 3A, the team from West Lafayette High School.

Getting the opportunity to play in the state championship was “magical,” Doyle said, the culmination of “something they worked so hard for.”

In the days leading up to the championship game, Doyle said he didn’t get much sleep, but that changed the night before the game.

“I slept like a baby,” he recalls. “I was pretty confident their effort was going to pay off. I told them, ‘Just be the team you’ve been all year and you’ll be fine.’ That’s exactly what happened.”

After the game was won and the team clutched the championship trophy, Doyle entered the locker room at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis where the players were in full celebration.

“I went in to talk to the boys one last time, but when I did, they were singing ‘We are the Champions.’ I jumped up on a cooler and joined them. They were all laughing. It was a fun moment.” †

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