NORTH JUDSON — Possibly the most important player at the Sectional 41 championship game in North Judson never took the field Friday night. But although Triton’s Cameron Scarberry couldn’t play in the title game, the Trojans made sure he was well represented in spirit.
A pair of fourth quarter touchdowns lifted Triton past the host Bluejays, 29-17, and the Trojans dedicated the program’s first sectional championship in a decade to their fallen teammate.
“For me, that was the biggest thing. The trophy was secondary. I really wanted to get this win for Cameron,” said Triton coach Ron Brown. “We were able to do that. I feel like that gives us some closure, that gives us some great feelings, and I couldn’t be more proud of the kids for focusing on that. That’s a lot to put on them as young men, and they stepped up big.”
Scarberry passed away in a car accident last September midway through his junior season, and the tragedy of his loss left Triton football reeling. Among the goals the two-way lineman had made for the team was a 6-3 regular-season finish, which the Trojans were able to accomplish in 2017. Unfortunately, they came up a few plays short of Scarberry’s other goal, a sectional championship. Playing in their second straight title game Friday night, Triton finished what it started last year in what would have been Scarberry’s senior season with the squad.
“He had a goal sheet that everyone knows about; newspapers wrote about it,” explained Triton senior quarterback James Snyder of Scarberry. “That was the last goal, to win sectionals, and it’s just an awesome feeling being able to win it and say it’s for him. It’s just unbelievable.”
“He wanted to be 6-3 in the season, and he wanted to win a sectional championship by his senior year,” echoed senior slotback Delano Shumpert. “We knew that was our goal. We needed to get it done, and we got it done.”
Snyder and Shumpert played crucial roles in the decisive fourth quarter in Judson. Shumpert’s younger brother D’Angelo had a big part to play, too.
Trailing 17-14 headed into the final stanza and facing third and nine at the Trojans’ own 35, Snyder lofted a deep ball to D’Angelo, who reeled it in and ran it the remaining few yards for a 65-yard score that gave the Trojans a 21-17 advantage with Brandon Lenker’s extra point kick with 9:24 left to play.
“I was freaking out. I was about to throw to Tye (Orsund), and I saw him break open and I just launched it,” explained Snyder of the go-ahead score. “He caught it. Perfect pass, perfect run. Man, it was awesome.”
Triton’s defense held on a Bluejays fourth down conversion attempt on the ensuing drive, taking over at their own 42, and the Trojans needed just two plays to strike again, when Snyder flicked the ball to Delano, who hit the edge and ran it 58 yards up the Judson sideline for the insurance touchdown with 4:14 left to play. Snyder found Orsund at the right edge of the end zone for a two-point conversion pass that pushed the advantage out to 29-17, forcing the Jays to go into hurry-up mode with a 12-point deficit and time running out.
“The big guys were leading the way. You’ve just got to follow them,” said Delano modestly. “They’ll create your holes for you. That’s all it is.”
Delano provided a big hit on Judson’s next possession, when Jays quarterback Caden Peretti found a wide-open Chuckie Wilcox over the middle, saving a likely touchdown and jarring the ball loose from Wilcox, which Orsund happily scooped up and ran back to set Triton up at its own 29 following a holding penalty on the play. Triton used up all but the game’s last 53 seconds on the drive, and Orsund put the exclamation point on the win with an interception on the Jays’ first play of their final possession with 46 seconds to play. The Trojans wound down the clock, celebrating their first sectional title since the program won back-to-back championships in 2007-08.
“Great players make great plays. What can you say?” said Brown. “You’ve got to believe in the kids. Like I said last year, if you’re going to count on them to make plays, you take it when it doesn’t work out, but this time it worked out for us and they just made play after play.”
Friday’s back-and-forth affair echoed a regular-season win over North Judson back on Sept. 28, which the Trojans also secured by a 12-point margin. All told, Triton accumulated 333 offensive yards to Judson’s 289, including 182 passing yards and two touchdowns by Snyder and a balanced 151 rushing yards by the Trojans’ rushing corps.
Delano finished with 103 rushing yards in eight carries, caught two passes for 24 yards and made a game-high 10 tackles in the win. D’Angelo led all receivers with three catches worth 74 yards and made a big interception and ran it back 37 yards at the close of the first period to set up Triton’s first score of the night, a 24-yard pass from Snyder to Orsund at the 9:33 stop of the second period that cut the Trojans’ initial deficit to 7-6 with a failed two-point conversion run. Orsund finished with two catches totaling 71 yards himself, tallied seven tackles and recorded the late interception that put the game’s outcome beyond doubt.
Triton (9-3) advances to play unbeaten No. 1 and defending Class A state champion Pioneer — which put a 70-7 walloping on Lafayette Central Catholic in the Sectional 42 title game Friday night — in the regional contest in Bourbon next Friday.
“A lot of great kids, a lot of talent on this team. I don’t want to be done yet. I want to get a whole bunch more weeks with these guys. They do a great job,” said Brown.