December 10, 2021

Cathedral’s 40 seniors lead the way to a state football championship

The seniors on the football team of Cathedral High School in Indianapolis share the joy after their squad won the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s Class 5A state championship on Nov. 26 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

The seniors on the football team of Cathedral High School in Indianapolis share the joy after their squad won the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s Class 5A state championship on Nov. 26 at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis. (Submitted photo)

By John Shaughnessy

The numbers are impressive.

During its past two seasons, the football team of Cathedral High School in Indianapolis has achieved a record of 27 wins and two losses.

Their latest victory occurred in the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s Class 5A state championship game on Nov. 26, with the Irish earning a convincing 34-14 win over the team from Zionsville High School.

It was the second straight championship in football for Cathedral and their 14th overall in the sport.

All impressive statistics, yet there’s one more number that may be even more defining about this year’s team.

Consider that there are 40 seniors on this year’s Cathedral team that has 117 players. That’s 40 teammates who have worked and played together for four seasons—with some of them getting to play sparingly in games and others often just watching and cheering from the sidelines.

That’s a number—and a quality—that stands out to Cathedral’s head football coach, Bill Peebles.

“It’s not normal to have 40 seniors,” Peebles says. “Usually when kids don’t play, they move on to other things. It’s what makes this group special. They love each other.

“We had a bunch of seniors who never started a game. Some of them didn’t play a lot. Some were on special teams, and some didn’t play at all, but they helped us in practice. They accepted their role. They’re a really tight-knit group, which obviously has a lot to do with so many kids sticking it out.”

Most of all, their coach says, the seniors embraced the motto of their team.

“We say, ‘It’s not what you get. It’s what you become from Cathedral.’ It’s how you grow as a person—to become a better man and a better football player, of course. We had a lot of people who bought into that.”

One of the Cathedral seniors who embraced that attitude is Cooper Koers who was honored as the Phil N. Eskew Mental Attitude Award winner for Class 5A football. The award is presented to a senior who has “demonstrated excellence in mental attitude, scholarship, leadership and athletic ability during his four years of high school.”

While he is grateful for the honor, Cooper’s thoughts focus on his senior teammates and their role in leading Cathedral to the state championship.

“It means the world to me and this senior group,” he says. “We dreamed of this since freshman year and being able to make it a reality is amazing. These boys have become my best friends through the last four years. We have been able to motivate each other and keep each other focused on the main goal, which we were able to achieve.”

Peebles also credits his assistant coaches for helping to create an atmosphere for the team to succeed—and for so many seniors to continue wanting to be part of their team.

“You have to have an incredibly supportive staff who understands what our priority is—to make sure the kids feel wanted and appreciated even if they’re not great players,” Peebles says. “The assistant coaches have that philosophy. If my staff didn’t treat the kids the right way, we wouldn’t have that impact.”

The head coach then returned his thoughts to the seniors and the impact they’ve had.

“We have a tradition every year—a senior meal on Thursday night. This year it was at the house of Michael Page, a senior and a captain. The entire senior class would go to their house every Thursday, and they never missed it.

“This will be a group, 30 years from now, where they’ll all come back for reunions because they’ll want to see each other. That’s how they are. They are a very special group.” †

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