Bloomington South Football’s Surprise Season

Mateo Fuentes-Rohwer, News Writer

There were many questions entering the season for Bloomington South. With the amount of talent leaving with the senior class, including IU commit Dasan McCulloch, many were skeptical that South could even be a challenge at all, much less challenge for a conference title. Not even Senior QB Zach David knew what to expect this season. 

“We had a really good team last year, and lost a lot of talent so we were honestly thinking we were gonna have to rebuild,” said David. “So far we’ve come together and it’s been pretty good.”

After Friday’s win against Columbus North, labeling the season as being pretty good is a severe understatement. The 46-15 victory broke Columbus North’s five game winning streak in the series, and, more importantly, secured South’s first Conference Indiana title since 2016.  

Early Season Troubles

After an impressive 34-14 victory over New Albany in the first game of the season, South headed to Martinsville to take on the Artesians with the hopes of coming out with a rivalry game victory. The confidence garnered from South’s first victory was flowing, but Martinsville did not lie down and accept their fate.  

“We were excited, Martinsville were talking a lot, and we thought we were going to go out and shut them up,” said David, “but we got shut up and it was kind of a setback.”

Nothing could have prepared the Panthers for this major setback. Not only was it a loss, but it stung that much more coming at the hands of their rivals. The takeaway was simple but very important: learn. 

“[The loss] was good for us in the end because we learned a lesson,” said David. “[We] came back in practice the next week and ever since we’ve been on our ‘A’ game.”

The ‘A’ game David speaks of is more of an ‘A++’ game. Before the Columbus North game and after the Martinsville loss, South had won four straight games at a combined scoreline of 182-21. They beat their crosstown rivals North 45-7 on their own turf and held a relatively impressive Terre Haute South offense to 0 points. These dominating results weren’t just spoken into existence; they were the product of the learning that occurred after the Martinsville game.

“We study the team all week and we pretty much know exactly what they’re gonna do,” said David. “We work at each other in practice a lot and go hard at each other even though we are a team, and it helps us out and gets each other better.”

Conference Final

South’s string of dominating results led them to a matchup with Columbus North that was anything but a simple game. Columbus North’s record may have been 3-3, but a closer inspection of their schedule showed much more than just the record. Close losses to Class 3A’s #3 team Bishop Chatard and Class 4A’s #4 team Roncalli exhibited a tough challenge for South.

The Panthers made the beginning of the game seem like anything but a challenge. They finished the first half with a 24-3 lead and scored another 9 points at the start of the 3rd quarter to make it 33-3. The quick start was the most important part of South’s gameplan, according to Coach Gabe Johnson.

“Regardless of the situation, we always want the first series to say a lot,” said Johnson. 

In this case, the first drive certainly said a lot. South only needed 3 minutes and 31 seconds to get a Zach David rushing touchdown to cap off a 73-yard drive. 

Columbus North slowly worked back into the game in the 3rd quarter back to back scoring drives, one culminating in a 33-yard touchdown pass and the other in a 37-yard touchdown pass. 

All it took was these two scores to scare South, who woke up and finished the game with two of their own, one coming from a 98-yard pick-six by junior Drew Crum-Hieftje. As the final whistle blew, South had finally obtained the conference title that had eluded them for so many years. 

Moving Forward

After the conference title game, South was lucky enough to have a bye week which is quite an odd occurrence in high school football. Many teams would spend the week resting, watching film, and relaxing in the comforts of their glory. The newly crowned conference champs have other plans. 

“We’re gonna keep focusing on getting better and not be satisfied with what we’ve done,” said David. “This week we could just take it as an off week and rest up, but we’re gonna go hard at each other and get better.”

South’s final game of the season will be on October 14th against Seymour, and then preparations for the postseason will ensue. In past years, South has been upended by top teams in their division, but this year all of that could change.

“There’s been a lot of schools switching up in divisions…with [Cathedral and New Palestine] not being there I think we have a shot to make it there pretty far.”

The hopes are high for the panthers. A state championship is on their mind, and it’s clear that a conference title is a good start but only a start.