Andrean vs. Griffith 2004 Sectional Championship
“Unbelieveable/Unforgettable – Part 1”
In 2004, Griffith and Andrean capped off a series of classic matchups with the greatest battle of them all
It wasn’t exactly spontaneous. Not everything about it, at least.
Yes, Tommy Finn would be lying to you if he told you that he and his 2004 Andrean teammates had practiced this precise situation, 4th down and 26 yards to go, behind by a touchdown, 33 yards from an end zone protected by a Griffith team that had laid a savage beating on them just a few weeks before.
But desperation, more generally?
“We prepared,” Finn says today, “for situations like that.”
The score was 35-28, with about two minutes to play and the Class 3A sectional title on the line. Doing battle were perhaps the top two teams in their size class, in all of Indiana, separated by just a few minutes of LakeCounty back roads. Finn, Andrean’s dual threat quarterback and probably the Region’s best player that autumn, lined up to receive a shotgun snap, and glanced over at his primary target on the play, receiver Jake Kocal. Anticipating a throw to Kocal, Griffith had lined up with double-coverage on him.
“I thought, ‘S__, this doesn’t look good,” Finn says now.
Finn received the snap, and within moments, a Griffith defensive player broke through Andrean’s protection and bore down on him. Now it was time for a split-second decision. Now it was time for spontaneity.
The quarterback, so far as he could, considered his limited options. Finn could lead Kocal with a throw out of the defenders’ reach, but he quickly calculated that such a throw would end up out of bounds, ending his team’s season. So he improvised.
“I threw it inside,” Finn says, “and he made a hell of a play turning around. The coaches had talked to him about turning his shoulders on a bad throw. Thank God he realized what we were intending to do.”
Kocal hauled the ball in for a miracle Andrean touchdown and, suddenly, the score was 35-34. As the 59ers sent out the kicking unit for the point-after touchdown attempt, it looked like overtime was inevitable.
And what happened next?
That wasn’t exactly spontaneous, either.
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