They will face Indianapolis Bishop Chatard in the sectional final, the same foe that knocked the Tiger Cubs out of last year's tournament. However, this incarnation of the Greencastle football program has something to prove and has its sights set past Nov. 2.
"It's a great win for this team, this school and this community. I've been welcomed here with open arms. It's nice to be able to give this school and this community a product they can be proud of," GHS head coach Josh Buis said.
Greencastle experienced both an exhilarating high and a crushing low in the first two plays of Friday's game against the Bruins.
On the first play of the game, Tri-West quarterback Jake Hendershot dropped back to pass, but was leveled by a hard-charging Brett Gierke for a 10-yard loss. But on the next play, Hendershot found Nick Phelps for about a 12-yard completion that turned into a 76-yard touchdown as the senior zigzagged his way through the Greencastle defense.
Following a quick three and out by the Tiger Cubs' offense, their defense stepped up to get the sideline pumped once again. On the second play of the Bruins' possession, running back Mitch Alexander was hit and fumbled the ball.
On its next possession, Greencastle marched down the field on 11 rushing plays, and one pass play, before senior Nate Christy powered his way into the endzone from eight yards out to tie the game at seven-all.
Buis commented after the game that his team's resilience was nice to see since they haven't be put in that position much this season.
"These kids haven't faced a lot of adversity this year," he said. "We faced some early on against Monrovia, we faced some adversity against North Putnam in the first quarter and these kids rose to the occasion tonight.
"We played a very good football team in Tri-West. They're young, they're going to be very talented and I can assure you they're going to be back probably in the sectional final, with us hopefully, next year."
The next Greencastle score came from the back of the playbook, the place reserved for those non-typical plays that a coach dials up when the time is right.
The time in this case was 7:02 left in the second quarter and called on a trio of Tiger Cub players to pull it off. Senior quarterback Nick Gilliam went under center and took the ball and then proceeded to toss the ball to junior Tyler Scott,t who looked to be coming around the edge for a gain. However, Scott looked down field and found Tanner Nicholson wide open for a 39-yard scoring strike to the put the Tiger Cubs on top 14-7 going into halftime.
The third quarter saw both teams' offenses stall and it looked as if the teams would go into the fourth quarter with the halftime score.
But just before the end of the third quarter, Hendershot found Alexander on a quick slant for a 33-yard touchdown to tie the game 14-all going into the final period.
Greencastle's defense once again stepped up to stop a long drive by Tri-West when Scott intercepted Hendershot.
The Tiger Cubs then began to move downfield themselves with a Gilliam/Mac Shuee connection for 36-yards, sustaining the drive.
But a tipped pass at the line was intercepted by the Bruins to end the drive.
With 3:33 left in the contest, Hendershot dropped back to pass and was lit up by a pair of Greencastle defenders, causing the ball to pop loose and spin in the mud for what seemed like an eternity for those watching. GHS lineman T.J. Bollman jumped on the ball to give possession back to the Tiger Cubs and they wouldn't squander their opportunity to score.
Facing a third and goal at the three-yard line, Greencastle called a time out and Buis called on his lineman who recovered the fumble to lead the charge into the endzone.
"When coach (David) Stephens called timeout on that last drive, I looked at our senior offensive lineman T.J. Bollman and said, 'This is on you. This is on you and your four brothers there up front' and they did a good job punching it in," Buis said.
On the next play, Gilliam took the snap and followed his line forward for a three-yard touchdown with 1:16 remaining to take a 20-14 lead.
"We scored on a quarterback sneak from the three-yard line. If that doesn't tell you the offensive line was doing something, I don't know what does."
Tri-West had one final chance to keep its season alive, but a strong defensive effort by the Tiger Cubs made sure that didn't happen. With four seconds left, Hendershot heaved a throw that was knocked down short of the endzone to preserve the win for Greencastle.
The GHS defense came up big against a high-powered offense and Buis was pleased with what they brought to the table.
"We tried to mix up and change some coverage, bring some heat and really be dynamic defensively tonight. I thought Hendershot did a good job against us, but like I said, I think our front four on the defensive and offensive line took the game over and really affected the outcome of the game," he said.
While most team would be looking ahead to their sectional final matchup and trying to gain an edge as quickly as possible, Buis said his team was doing something a little different.
Instead of heading to the film or weight room, Buis' squad will gather and head off to participate in something that holds a greater significance that a sectional title.
The team will attend and participate at the PINK Halloween Fun Run at Robe-Ann Park for breast cancer awareness today.
"The whole team is going to go out there to give back to the community with the support we've had all year and right now that's more important than practicing tomorrow. We want to make sure we do the right thing and give back to those who have given to us," Buis said.
Greencastle will travel to Indianapolis Bishop Chatard Friday at 7 p.m.
Sectional No. 21
Tri-West 7 0 7 0 -- 14
Greencastle 7 7 0 6 -- 20
TW -- Hendershot 76-yard pass to Phelps, kick good 10:56
GHS -- Christy 8-yard run, Weinschenk kick 1:59
GHS -- Scott 39-yard pass to Nicholson, Weinschenk kick 7:02
TW -- Hendershot 33-yard pass to Alexander, kick good
GHS -- Gilliam 2-yard run, conversion failed 1:16
Rushing -- Hendershot 13-31, Alexander 5-(-2)
Passing -- Hendershot 18-38 307 yard 2TD, INT
Receiving -- Phelps 4-135 TD, Lazaro 6-79, Alexander 5-70 TD, Staton 1-12, Riehle 2-11
Rushing -- Christy 15-45 TD, Gilliam 11-41 TD, Pettit. 9-29, Nicholson 2-2
Passing -- Gilliam 10-16 145 yard 2 INT, Scott 1-1 39 yards TD
Receiving -- Shuee 4-57, Nicholson 2-54 TD, Pettit 2-25, Brown 2-24, Robinson 1-24