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The Western Boone Stars defeat Ft. Wayne Bishop Luers Knights 36-35 in 2A state championship.

Indianapolis Star

The game clock in Lucas Oil Stadium showed 11 seconds remaining in Friday’s Class 2A state championship game. The football sat at the 21-yard-line of Fort Wayne Luers.

Coaches make hundreds of decisions during the course of any game. But this one seemed especially important for Western Boone coach Justin Pelley. His team trailed by two points, with no timeouts. He could have told quarterback Elliott Young to take one shot at the end zone, probably in the direction of 6-4 senior and leading receiver Connor Garrity. Or dialed up a trick play of some sort.

Instead, Pelley called for the field goal. Listening close by was Josiah Smith, Western Boone’s sophomore kicker and son of former Colts’ punter Hunter Smith. But to hear Pelley after the game, the decision was not much of a decision at all. Smith was in his range.

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Western Boone sophomore Josiah Smith (14) reacts after kicking the game-winning field goal during the second half against Fort Wayne Bishop Luers in the Class 2A Football State Finals, Friday. Western Boone won 36-35. (Photo: Doug McSchooler/for IndyStar)

“I’d never have forgiven myself not to give that kid a chance to kick the game-winning field goal,” Pelley said.

Did he say anything to his sophomore kicker? “‘This is a pretty big deal isn’t it?’” Pelley said of his message to Smith.

Smith left no doubt, drilling the 38-yard field goal through the middle of the uprights with 7 seconds remaining. It provided the dramatic winning points in Western Boone’s 36-35 win over Luers, the most unlikely and thrilling of the Stars’ third consecutive state championship victories.

This was a largely young and inexperienced team for Western Boone after the back-to-back title seasons. Even Pelley, especially after a 1-3 start, figured this would be a rebuilding season.

“I would have said you’re crazy,” said Western Boone senior Luke Marsh, when asked if he thought this was possible at the beginning of the season. “I knew we had a chance if we kept getting better, which we did. We got off to a rough start, but we just kept fighting. That last game represented our whole season.”

Western Boone (11-4) needed a comeback that looked unlikely, if not impossible, after Fort Wayne Luers (8-7) scored on fourth-and-goal on a 7-yard rollout pass from left-hander Carson Clark to Krashaun Menson with 3:38 left. That pass, perfectly split between two Western Boone defenders, put Luers ahead, 35-26.

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“You still have minutes on the clock,” Marsh said. “You’re going to play until those zeroes are up there on the board.”

Western Boone had success running the ball all day. Robby Taylor set a state finals record with 43 carries and rushed for 210 yards and two touchdowns. But the Stars, down by nine points and with less than four minutes remaining did not have