Monday Night Features

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MATTHEW VANTRYON | BUTLER UNIVERSITY

Now that the holiday break has come to a close and the work grind is back in full force, here are three articles to read during the commercial breaks of the Dolphins vs. Jets game tonight.

1. “Excuse me,” I say to the usher whose nameplate identifies him as ‘Cleveland.’ “Did you play basketball?” Cleveland Harp peers down at me. He smiles. Then he puts a finger to his throat and tells me a story.

He’s an imposing figure, who doesn’t say much–not by choice, but because he can’t. People have asked him whether he has hit the hardwood before, and he’s lied. Until Indianapolis Star columnist Gregg Doyel got the real answer out of him. This poignant, fascinating is well worth the read. Doyel’s ability to get perspective out of this man who can barely speak, as well as those who pass by him on a daily basis, makes this piece one of the best I’ve read in a long time.

2. “We don’t do this for the money. We do this because the very first time we got on a bull—the first time we got bucked off and hit the ground and got up—right there we knew that this is what we were meant to be doing.”

This is what a trainer told a group of eight-year-old boys before they got on top of a raging, fierce animal that could kill them at any second. This piece from the New Yorker tells the fascinating tale of a group of children who are embarking on the journey of a lifetime—or, maybe more aptly put, the thrill of a lifetime. That journey? Bullfighting. This piece is lengthy, but eye-opening and thought provoking.

3. “A disaster. A miracle. The face in the window, the falling star. In Gordo, still awash in condolences, Anthony Pruitt sees his team lose the Iron Bowl on a fourth missed field goal and a 109-yard return with no time on the clock.”

On the week anniversary of one of the most memorable Iron Bowls in history, Sports Illustrated writer Thomas Lake takes a look at the game from a unique perspective–that is, through the eyes of Anthony Pruitt. Pruitt is a lifelong Alabama fan. Pruitt suffers a myriad of losses on this day, the greatest of which do not come close to the turf and pylon. A touching, albeit grave reminder, that life is more than sports.

Monday Morning Coffee: 3 sports articles to read

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Matthew VanTryon | Butler University

Here are three sports pieces to read this morning…

1. Sports executives often shy away from the media. So, the notion that NBA Commissioner Adam Silver would write an op-ed piece for the New York Times–about the controversial topic of legalizing sports betting, nonetheless–is nearly unheard of. That is what Silver did, and he makes some very intriguing and compelling points.

2. Was it really 10 years ago that Ron Artest went into the stands after being hit with a beverage? Was it really 10 years ago that the Pacers began a downward spiral into the laughingstock of the NBA, for discord on and off the court? Indianapolis Star reporter Candace Buckner takes a fascinating look back at the “Malice at the Palace” on its 10-year anniversary.

3. In the aftermath of the Colts being thrashed by their long-time nemesis New England Patriots on national television last night, Indianapolis Star columnist Greg Doyel asks a question: are the Colts a playoff team that strikes fear in the players on the other sideline? His answer might be frightening for Colts fans.

Five sports articles to read this week

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MATTHEW VANTRYON | BUTLER UNIVERSITY

Here’s five sports articles to read this week:

1. Indiana Pacers radio play-by-play announcer Mark Boyle reflects on his brother dying. A very poignant piece. Boyle is stoic and poised behind the mic, and it is considerate of him to let the veil down and let readers see his human side. Of course, best wishes to Mark, his family, and everyone affected by that situation.

2. A-Rod had managed to stay out of line of fire from New York columnists as he served his suspension. With new information concerning the steroid allegations surrounding the third baseman comes a new opportunity to look into what propels one of the highest profile athletes of our time. This New York Post column by Joe Sherman does a poignant job of saying what we already know: For Rodriguez, it’s all about the cash.

3. This piece by Zak Keefer of the Indianapolis Star takes a look at the polarizing figure of Rob Gronkowski. While ‘Gronk’ may not be in the spotlight as bright as he once was, Keefer says that he will be force to be reckoned for the Indianapolis Colts come Sunday night.

4. Speaking of profiles about ex-superstars, this profile on Brett Favre provides an interesting insight into one of football’s all-time greats. For all there is to be said of Favre and his retirement antics…just kidding…maybe not…it is interesting to get a look behind the scenes at someone who, at the end of the day, is just another guy.

5. Now that a few years have passed, what is the lasting legacy of Randy Moss? This Grantland piece puts his career is perspective.

Giants look ahead to familiar foe, Warriors reflect on season

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MATTHEW VANTRYON | BUTLER UNIVERSITY

Ben Davis achieved a milestone it had not accomplished in some time with its 40-36 win over Warren Central Friday night—it claimed it’s first regional title since 2008.

The opponent Friday night will look similar to the contest in 2008, when they line up against Center Grove. However, the Giants are hoping for a different outcome this time around.

The Trojans beat Ben Davis 49-21 in their semi-state meeting six years ago.

But that was then, and this is now. The Giants blanked Center Grove 28-0 in the team’s regular season meeting in mid-September, but the teams have split the six games since the title game in 2008.

The bottom is line is this: expect another nail-biter if you are a Giants fan.

The Trojans are winners of eight straight after dropping two of three games to start the season, and they have outscored their opponents 392-124 over that span.

To say they are hot is an understatement.

Nevertheless, the Giants will be riding high after their thrilling win Friday night. Frankly, the Giants were one Warren Central penalty away from seeing their season come to an end. As it is, they live to see another day.

Warren Central, meanwhile, will not return to the turf until next season.

The Warriors finished their 2014 campaign 9-3.

Warren Central opened its season with seven straight wins before dropping its first contest of the season to Carmel. A second straight loss came the following week to St. Xavier.

The Warriors won the first two games of the state tournament by a combined score of 59-0 before their season-ending loss.

Leading the way for the team on offense was senior quarterback Jordan Leach. Leach finished the season with 869 yards passing and six touchdowns through the air.

Leach also rushed for 10 touchdowns.

Tirone Young added nine scores on the ground.

The team’s defense that allowed only 176 points was lead by a pair of seniors.

Mykelti Williams led the team with 51 tackles and five interceptions. Antonio Williams chipped in 50 tackles and two fumble recoveries.

The Warriors will have plenty of holes to fill, with 45 seniors graduating. However, with a pair of state titles in the last four years, the foundation has been set for a successful future.

Giants dethrone reigning state champions in thriller

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MATTHEW VANTRYON | BUTLER UNIVERSITY

Down three points. Under two minutes to play. Season on the line—and the defending state champions standing in the way.

Ben Davis was up to the challenge, and came away with a 40-36 win in the Class 6A regional championship over Warren Central.

When Giants quarterback Kyle Castner found Trew Smith in the end zone with 12 seconds to play, it was the final touch to a back-and-forth affair against the Warriors.

In what was the latest chapter of his record-setting season, Castner threw for 196 yards and four touchdowns.

The second half alone featured four lead changes and a tie. The Warriors had the game all but wrapped up with under two minutes to go after Schulyer Nehrig hit a 45-yard field goal to cap a 13-play, 57-yard drive, but Ben Davis had the last word.

Ben Davis tailback Chris Evans did his part to lead the Giants. Evans finished with 155 rushing yards and 43 receiving yards with four touchdowns—two through the air and two on the ground.

The Warriors took a 27-24 lead to open the second half, as Tirone Young took the opening play from scrimmage 64 yards for the score.

Evans rushed for his fourth touchdown of the game to regain the lead for the Giants, but the Warriors tied the game with under 11 minutes to play. Mykelti Williams took the ball seven yards for the score.

Williams also had a 39-yard touchdown run in the first half, and had 137 yards in the game.

The Giants took a 20-17 lead into the break, despite three turnovers.

Castner found the end zone three times in the opening half.

Ben Davis and Warren Central meet in heavyweight battle

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Matthew VanTryon | BUTLER UNIVERSITY

Ben Davis enters its regional title matchup with Warren Central on a four-game winning streak. However, a high-powered Ben Davis offense will face a staunch Warriors defense.

If defense wins championships…

If defense wins championships, the Warriors will have the edge in this contest. Warren Central is ranked No. 2 in the latest Sagarin ratings, thanks in large part to a defense that has allowed only 136 points this season, good for 12 points per game.

By comparison, Ben Davis has allowed 268 points.

The defense has shut out North Central and Lawrence Central in its last two contests.

A large part of the defense’s success is due to a potent defensive line. The Warriors are average two sacks per game.

Senior Jaylon Berry leads the way with six sacks on the year. He also has rushed the quarterback seven times.

Not so fast

Ben Davis quarterback Kyle Castner would like a word with the skeptics.

Castner has rewritten the program record books this season in a Giant way.

The numbers are eye-popping. 2818 passing yards. 24 TDs. 256 yards per game. All this season.

Need more be said?

Castner is taking it all in stride.

“It’s a blessing to be here, third year starting,” Castner said. “To be up with those guys is unbelievable. I couldn’t be happier with guys around me and my coaches.”

And, oh yeah, Ben Davis has a running back…or two.

Senior Dorian Tate has rushed for 1185 yards this season with 18 touchdowns.

Junior Chris Evans has rushed for 68 yards with 12 scores.

Tate has been offered by Indiana State.

Who wins out?

This will likely be a game to remember. It has all the makings of a wire-to-wire contest. If the Warriors can find a way to get to Castner, they might have the edge. If Castner utilizes his receivers and mixes in the running game, Warren Central might be headed home.

Ben Davis rolls past Wildcats

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By Matthew VanTryon / Sept. 27

Kyle Castner secured his place among Ben Davis football legends on Friday night as the Giants crushed Lawrence North 56-6 to celebrate Homecoming.

With 295 yards passing against the Wildcats, Castner now has a school-record 5,307 career yards and is 218 yards away from the season passing record of 2,052 yards set by Matt Brock in 2011.

“It’s a blessing to be here, third year starting,” Castner said. “To be up with those guys is unbelievable. I couldn’t be happier with guys around me and my coaches.”

Castner surpassed Brock in 18 fewer games — Brock finished his career with 44 games played. Castner has played 26.

Castner ran an offensive clinic in the first half. The Giants scored touchdowns on each of their six possessions.

Dorian Tate began the scoring with a 24-yard touchdown run on the first play from the line of scrimmage. Castner found Chris Evans on a 75-yard strike on the opening play of the next drive.

Tate found the end zone again on the ground before the quarter came to a close.

Ben Davis coach Mike Kirschner praised Castner’s leadership and his team’s efficiency

“He came out and took control early, he made some nice plays, and receivers did a nice job of catching the ball,” he said.

The Giants continued to roll in the second quarter.

Evans found the end zone on two consecutive plays for the Giants midway through the second quarter. He wrapped up a nine-play drive with a 9-yard touchdown run, and began the next drive with a 43-yard dash.

Ben Davis went into the half with a commanding 42-0 lead.

Castner finished the half 10 of 14 with 214 passing yards.

Ben Davis picked up the second half where it left off. Stori Emerson scored on a 29-yard pass reception to start the quarter, and added a 19-yard reception a drive later.

Ben Davis used the remainder of the game to get a look at a fresh group of players. Kirschner was pleased with what he saw.

“It’s what you hope for a few times a season, to get your young guys varsity experience on a Friday night,” he said. “Those same guys have got to be your varsity players next year on a Friday night. You get a game or two like this during the season, it only helps you down the road.”

Lawrence North got on the board with a rushing touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The Giants travel to Carmel next Friday night. The Greyhounds are undefeated and sit atop the 6A rankings with the Giants.

Castner said beating Carmel starts Saturday at practice.

“We’ve got to have a great week of practice,” he said. “We’ve got to come out strong like we did today, we’ve got to play fast. We can’t stoop down to their level.”