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Lawrence Central Football - On the Mend or On the Brink?


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Guest DT
HHF Commentary : Lawrence Central Football - On the Mend or On the Brink?
 
Since that glorious 2012 5A state championship and subsequent 2013 entry into the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference, its been a steady downhill ride for the Lawrence Central football program.
 
What went wrong? Perhaps Jayson West saw this coming when he stepped off the LC train after smoking Fort Wayne Snider 39-14 in that 2012 5A title game to cap a 15-0 season ,jumping across the township border on the east side to take over at Warren Central.
 
Since that time, LC has been thru 4 head coaches, and the program hit rock bottom in 2020, going 0-10 and suffering thru a series of humiliating blowouts, culminating in a 52-14 first round sectional loss to a program they used to dominate, Lawrence North.
 
When John Rodenberg, a state championship level coach from Ohio, stepped down from the Lawrence Central job after just two seasons, alarm bells should have been going off everywhere, but they where, nobody heard them.
 
Former LC Bears star linebacker Will Patterson took over the program following Rodenberg's exit, and he is 2-18 in his two full seasons running the show. Rodenberg went over to Roncalli and won a state championship in his first season, and his team is heavily favored to repeat this year.
 
So how did the State Champion Bears become the Bad News Bears so quickly?
 
Unfortunately, it likely all comes down to numbers.
 
When LC joined the MIC, it was on the bottom end in the league in total 9-12 enrollment. In 2013-14 school year, LC posted enrollment of 2510 for purposes of football classification.
In 2019-20, LC reported enrollment of 2290, a 9% drop over the 7 year period. Every other MIC school saw enrollment increase or remain stagnant during that time period.
Coach West mentioned in our interview earlier that the drastic numbers variance between LC and the big MIC schools has overwhelmed the Bears, to the point that they are struggling to compete. Add in the fact that you have a rising Lawrence North program in an open enrollment township, and you have a perfect storm brewing for the destruction of Lawrence Central football.
 
Frankly, Im not sure its such a good idea to have sister schools like LN and LC playing in the same conference, competiting against each other for the same pot of gold. One is sure to thrive at the expense of the other. Its why the Columbus schools play in separate conferences. Its why Perry Meridian, Southport and Franklin Central all went their separate ways. Its possibly why HSE and Fishers may experience any success at the expense of the other.
 
Lawrence Central is now too small to compete regularly in The MIC. It might have a generational team every now and then when a Tre Roberson type player comes around, but year to year, the Bears simply do not have the depth to compete against the mammoth mega schools in The MIC.
 
I'd love to see LC quickly reverse that 0-10 record from last season, but I fear this may be the new norm for the program.
 
LC should cut its losses, and immediately search out a new home. There are many options. A return to Conference Indiana, where they enjoyed good relationships, had great success, and their kids enjoyed a wonderful football experience rather than enduring the drudgery of winlessness.
 
How about the Circle City Conference? Perhaps hook up with Southport and continue on with the long positive competitive relationship they have had with Indy's top private schools.
Or maybe the HCC? Many say the HCC is closing the gap on The MIC. But are they really that close?
 
Perhaps the Mid State. The MSC just added 6A Perry Meridian. Why not 6A Lawrence Central and continue to enhance your competitive profile? There might be a small 4A school in the MSC that could soon be looking for a better fit.
 
Maybe even the Hoosier Heritage. They play high level football in that conference at several of the schools. Doubt they would be intimidated by LCs presence.
 
Or the longest of long shots - independence. Never say never.
 
Bottom line, LC is enduring a miserable experience right now ,entrenched in the MIC basement. How do they get out? Can they get out? Or does someone step up and throw them a lifeline? I certainly hope for the sake of the program and the student athletes affected that they soon find some light at the end of the tunnel.
 
 
Tim Phillips
Hoosier High School Football

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44 minutes ago, DT said:
HHF Commentary : Lawrence Central Football - On the Mend or On the Brink?
 
Since that glorious 2012 5A state championship and subsequent 2013 entry into the Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference, its been a steady downhill ride for the Lawrence Central football program.
 
What went wrong? Perhaps Jayson West saw this coming when he stepped off the LC train after smoking Fort Wayne Snider 39-14 in that 2012 5A title game to cap a 15-0 season ,jumping across the township border on the east side to take over at Warren Central.
 
Since that time, LC has been thru 4 head coaches, and the program hit rock bottom in 2020, going 0-10 and suffering thru a series of humiliating blowouts, culminating in a 52-14 first round sectional loss to a program they used to dominate, Lawrence North.
 
When John Rodenberg, a state championship level coach from Ohio, stepped down from the Lawrence Central job after just two seasons, alarm bells should have been going off everywhere, but they where, nobody heard them.
 
Former LC Bears star linebacker Will Patterson took over the program following Rodenberg's exit, and he is 2-18 in his two full seasons running the show. Rodenberg went over to Roncalli and won a state championship in his first season, and his team is heavily favored to repeat this year.
 
So how did the State Champion Bears become the Bad News Bears so quickly?
 
Unfortunately, it likely all comes down to numbers.
 
When LC joined the MIC, it was on the bottom end in the league in total 9-12 enrollment. In 2013-14 school year, LC posted enrollment of 2510 for purposes of football classification.
In 2019-20, LC reported enrollment of 2290, a 9% drop over the 7 year period. Every other MIC school saw enrollment increase or remain stagnant during that time period.
Coach West mentioned in our interview earlier that the drastic numbers variance between LC and the big MIC schools has overwhelmed the Bears, to the point that they are struggling to compete. Add in the fact that you have a rising Lawrence North program in an open enrollment township, and you have a perfect storm brewing for the destruction of Lawrence Central football.
 
Frankly, Im not sure its such a good idea to have sister schools like LN and LC playing in the same conference, competiting against each other for the same pot of gold. One is sure to thrive at the expense of the other. Its why the Columbus schools play in separate conferences. Its why Perry Meridian, Southport and Franklin Central all went their separate ways. Its possibly why HSE and Fishers may experience any success at the expense of the other.
 
Lawrence Central is now too small to compete regularly in The MIC. It might have a generational team every now and then when a Tre Roberson type player comes around, but year to year, the Bears simply do not have the depth to compete against the mammoth mega schools in The MIC.
 
I'd love to see LC quickly reverse that 0-10 record from last season, but I fear this may be the new norm for the program.
 
LC should cut its losses, and immediately search out a new home. There are many options. A return to Conference Indiana, where they enjoyed good relationships, had great success, and their kids enjoyed a wonderful football experience rather than enduring the drudgery of winlessness.
 
How about the Circle City Conference? Perhaps hook up with Southport and continue on with the long positive competitive relationship they have had with Indy's top private schools.
Or maybe the HCC? Many say the HCC is closing the gap on The MIC. But are they really that close?
 
Perhaps the Mid State. The MSC just added 6A Perry Meridian. Why not 6A Lawrence Central and continue to enhance your competitive profile? There might be a small 4A school in the MSC that could soon be looking for a better fit.
 
Maybe even the Hoosier Heritage. They play high level football in that conference at several of the schools. Doubt they would be intimidated by LCs presence.
 
Or the longest of long shots - independence. Never say never.
 
Bottom line, LC is enduring a miserable experience right now ,entrenched in the MIC basement. How do they get out? Can they get out? Or does someone step up and throw them a lifeline? I certainly hope for the sake of the program and the student athletes affected that they soon find some light at the end of the tunnel.
 
 
Tim Phillips
Hoosier High School Football

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Facts.

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Lawrence Central has become the casualty of a two school district. Open enrollment has allowed many of the athletes to attend Lawrence North who traditionally has been the better athletic school in Lawrence Twp and many of the families on the Geist side of Marion County are either moving north of Carroll Rd into either Hamilton or Hancock County or simply sending their kids to Cathedral or Chatard. I foresee LC's enrollment to continue to dip and think somewhere down the road LC and LN will consolidate into a single high school. 

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1 hour ago, Footballking16 said:

Lawrence Central has become the casualty of a two school district. Open enrollment has allowed many of the athletes to attend Lawrence North who traditionally has been the better athletic school in Lawrence Twp and many of the families on the Geist side of Marion County are either moving north of Carroll Rd into either Hamilton or Hancock County or simply sending their kids to Cathedral or Chatard. I foresee LC's enrollment to continue to dip and think somewhere down the road LC and LN will consolidate into a single high school. 

Man, I hate agreeing with you.

To this point, is there some sort of directory you can provide showing where most Cathedral/Chatard kids “would” go to school were they to use their address as their home district?

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15 minutes ago, temptation said:

Man, I hate agreeing with you.

Sad but true. There's a pocket on the very far NE side of Lawrence Twp that in my opinion produces some of the best football talent in the state on a year in and year out basis. Unfortunately for LC and by extension LN, a lot of those kids go to the CYO feeder schools and subsequently Cathedral or Chatard. You have Heritage Christian sitting right there also in the heart of Lawrence Twp. Property value on houses in that Geist pocket, absent the lakeside homes, aren't what they used to be and in turn a ton of families are moving to Fortville and McCordsville and into the Mt. Vernon and HSE school districts. 

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4 minutes ago, Footballking16 said:

Sad but true. There's a pocket on the very far NE side of Lawrence Twp that in my opinion produces some of the best football talent in the state on a year in and year out basis. Unfortunately for LC and by extension LN, a lot of those kids go to the CYO feeder schools and subsequently Cathedral or Chatard. You have Heritage Christian sitting right there also in the heart of Lawrence Twp. Property value on houses in that Geist pocket, absent the lakeside homes, aren't what they used to be and in turn a ton of families are moving to Fortville and McCordsville and into the Mt. Vernon and HSE school districts. 

An LN/LC consolidation (even if only for athletic purposes) would serve the district well from a competitive standpoint but is it best for ALL students?  Probably not.

Has this idea ever been seriously tossed around?

Perry/Southport also.

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22 minutes ago, temptation said:

To this point, is there some sort of directory you can provide showing where most Cathedral/Chatard kids “would” go to school were they to use their address as their home district?

There's three parishes where Lawrence Twp kids predominantly reside; St. Simon, St. Matthew, and St. Lawrence. St. Simon by far has the best athletic program of any of the CYO schools and is also the biggest. St. Simon serves the majority of the Geist neighborhoods on the Marion County side although some come from Fishers and Mt Vernon districts. Large majority of those kids attend either Cathedral or Chatard but otherwise would have attended Lawrence Central before the district became open enrollment. St. Matthews is at 56th and Binford right on the border of Lawrence/Washington Twp but many of those kids live in the neighborhoods to the east which again predominantly serve LC. St. Lawrence at 46th and Shadeland would serve a mixture of Lawrence Twp and IPS as it is right down the street from Arlington.

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18 minutes ago, temptation said:

An LN/LC consolidation (even if only for athletic purposes) would serve the district well from a competitive standpoint but is it best for ALL students?  Probably not.

Has this idea ever been seriously tossed around?

Perry/Southport also.

Probably not, as it stands now you'd have well over 4500 kids attending one high school and I don't think that's good for anybody. But Mt. Vernon has been exploding and the majority of those families are coming from Lawrence Twp. I do foresee a continued decline of Lawrence Twp students but it may only be marginal. Cathedral/Chatard are capped at their enrollments as is.

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Guest DT
18 minutes ago, Footballking16 said:

Probably not, as it stands now you'd have well over 4500 kids attending one high school and I don't think that's good for anybody. But Mt. Vernon has been exploding and the majority of those families are coming from Lawrence Twp. I do foresee a continued decline of Lawrence Twp students but it may only be marginal. Cathedral/Chatard are capped at their enrollments as is.

LC would likely be a large 5A if the IHSAA would do the right thing and reduce 6A to top 24 schools in enrollment.  But that still does not fix their MIC problem.  If LN continues to improve, things will only get more difficult for LC.  I think they should leave the conference.  

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27 minutes ago, Footballking16 said:

There's three parishes where Lawrence Twp kids predominantly reside; St. Simon, St. Matthew, and St. Lawrence. St. Simon by far has the best athletic program of any of the CYO schools and is also the biggest. St. Simon serves the majority of the Geist neighborhoods on the Marion County side although some come from Fishers and Mt Vernon districts. Large majority of those kids attend either Cathedral or Chatard but otherwise would have attended Lawrence Central before the district became open enrollment. St. Matthews is at 56th and Binford right on the border of Lawrence/Washington Twp but many of those kids live in the neighborhoods to the east which again predominantly serve LC. St. Lawrence at 46th and Shadeland would serve a mixture of Lawrence Twp and IPS as it is right down the street from Arlington.

Good info.

23 minutes ago, Footballking16 said:

Probably not, as it stands now you'd have well over 4500 kids attending one high school and I don't think that's good for anybody. But Mt. Vernon has been exploding and the majority of those families are coming from Lawrence Twp. I do foresee a continued decline of Lawrence Twp students but it may only be marginal. Cathedral/Chatard are capped at their enrollments as is.

I tend to agree but Carmel and Ben David seem to make it work.

What if it were solely for athletic purposes?

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8 minutes ago, DT said:

LC would likely be a large 5A if the IHSAA would do the right thing and reduce 6A to top 24 schools in enrollment.  But that still does not fix their MIC problem.  If LN continues to improve, things will only get more difficult for LC.  I think they should leave the conference.  

Bold prediction:  Carmel and CG are out of the MIC sometime before the turn of the decade.

Thinking more so in terms of ALL sports, their athletic domination is more of an issue than LC’s non-competitiveness.  If I’m not mistaken, CG or Carmel took home 17 of the 20 conference titles across the board this past academic year.

With the changing demographics, I still say replace Carmel and CG with Avon and Franklin Central.

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2 minutes ago, temptation said:

Good info.

I tend to agree but Carmel and Ben David seem to make it work.

What if it were solely for athletic purposes?

Consolidated Lawrence High School at 4500 enrollment fits perfectly into the MIC.  I like it.  Would they have to build a new school or could they use one of the current campuses for the consolidated entity?

Elkhart Memorial + Elkhart Central = Elkhart High School = new football powerhouse

 

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18 minutes ago, temptation said:

I tend to agree but Carmel and Ben David seem to make it work.

What if it were solely for athletic purposes?

It could work and would definitely propel their athletic prowess, just not a huge fan of mega-sized high schools. 

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16 hours ago, DT said:

Frankly, Im not sure its such a good idea to have sister schools like LN and LC playing in the same conference, competiting against each other for the same pot of gold. One is sure to thrive at the expense of the other. Its why the Columbus schools play in separate conferences. Its why Perry Meridian, Southport and Franklin Central all went their separate ways. Its possibly why HSE and Fishers may experience any success at the expense of the other.

Are you sure the Columbus schools are in separate conferences for that reason?

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1 minute ago, DT said:

Consolidated Lawrence High School at 4500 enrollment fits perfectly into the MIC.  I like it.  Would they have to build a new school or could they use one of the current campuses for the consolidated entity?

Elkhart Memorial + Elkhart Central = Elkhart High School = new football powerhouse

 

Yep.

1 minute ago, Footballking16 said:

It could work and would definitely propel their athletic prowess, just not a huge fan of mega-sized high schools. 

Nor am I but it could work.

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18 minutes ago, DT said:

Consolidated Lawrence High School at 4500 enrollment fits perfectly into the MIC.  I like it.  Would they have to build a new school or could they use one of the current campuses for the consolidated entity?

Elkhart Memorial + Elkhart Central = Elkhart High School = new football powerhouse

I would guess one of the schools (LC) would be used a freshman campus and the other (LN) grades 10-12. 

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39 minutes ago, temptation said:

An LN/LC consolidation (even if only for athletic purposes) would serve the district well from a competitive standpoint but is it best for ALL students?  Probably not.

Has this idea ever been seriously tossed around?

Perry/Southport also.

I said this on here years ago, that these two splitting are what lead to other area schools becoming so big. I am convinced that splitting the districts into two schools was taken off the table because these two districts did split. Like it or not, athletics play a factor in those decisions. Success in any program, athletic, musical, theatrical, whatever it may be, amounts to more publicity for a given school; which means more people will attend, maybe even move into the district to attend. 

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Guest DT
9 minutes ago, temptation said:

Yep.

Nor am I but it could work.

Can you imagine a consolidated HSE-Fishers with 6500 students?  

They do this in Dallas and Houston

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2 minutes ago, DT said:

Can you imagine a consolidated HSE-Fishers with 6500 students?  

They do this in Dallas and Houston

I don’t think they do unless you are referring to athletics only.  I can’t speak to that.

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17 minutes ago, DT said:

Can you imagine a consolidated HSE-Fishers with 6500 students?  

They do this in Dallas and Houston

Allen High School (the one with the mega stadium) is the largest high school in Texas and only has 4800 students. 

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23 minutes ago, Irishman said:

I said this on here years ago, that these two splitting are what lead to other area schools becoming so big. I am convinced that splitting the districts into two schools was taken off the table because these two districts did split. Like it or not, athletics play a factor in those decisions. Success in any program, athletic, musical, theatrical, whatever it may be, amounts to more publicity for a given school; which means more people will attend, maybe even move into the district to attend. 

But at what point does it reach a point of diminishing returns?  You can have 4000+ students and have amazing programs in the areas you mentioned but can also do that with two schools of 2000 (tougher in football as I’ve repeatedly stated however).

Football aside, how many kids are falling through the cracks/missing out on opportunities at schools of 3500+?

Lets take sports like golf, swimming, and cross country for example.

Only a dozen or so of athletes in those sports get to compete at a varsity level and at a place like Carmel, these “no cut” type sports have HUNDREDS of athletes participating.  
 

I know for a fact that fringe varsity/high level JV athletes in swimming and cross country at Carmel participate at the next level, which is ludicrous when you think about it.

Splitting into 2500/2500 is best from both an athletic and participation standpoint in my opinion.

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1 hour ago, temptation said:

But at what point does it reach a point of diminishing returns?  You can have 4000+ students and have amazing programs in the areas you mentioned but can also do that with two schools of 2000 (tougher in football as I’ve repeatedly stated however).

Football aside, how many kids are falling through the cracks/missing out on opportunities at schools of 3500+?

Lets take sports like golf, swimming, and cross country for example.

Only a dozen or so of athletes in those sports get to compete at a varsity level and at a place like Carmel, these “no cut” type sports have HUNDREDS of athletes participating.  
 

I know for a fact that fringe varsity/high level JV athletes in swimming and cross country at Carmel participate at the next level, which is ludicrous when you think about it.

Splitting into 2500/2500 is best from both an athletic and participation standpoint in my opinion.

Not disagreeing with anything you said, just stating that other schools saw the split and decided against doing the same. 
Fair questions to ask….not sure if they have been asked in those districts or not. 

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25 minutes ago, Irishman said:

Not disagreeing with anything you said, just stating that other schools saw the split and decided against doing the same. 
Fair questions to ask….not sure if they have been asked in those districts or not. 

I get it.  I just have a hard time believing anyone at Carmel (the easiest target in this argument) could look at me with a straight face and tell me they are doing what’s best for their students in a school of 5200.

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15 minutes ago, temptation said:

I get it.  I just have a hard time believing anyone at Carmel (the easiest target in this argument) could look at me with a straight face and tell me they are doing what’s best for their students in a school of 5200.

Maybe…..but they do a lot of things very well. They do keep the number of students per teacher really low…..at about 18 students per teacher. With that many students in one building, there are some advantages. They are consistently in the high 90’s for graduation rate percentage. They are able to offer a wider variety of courses. 
 

But Carmel is unique. If there were an IPS school with the limited resources it has, it’s likely to have the opposite effect. I even remember in college in the late 80’s doing observations, and they had PE classes with 100 kids. The teacher said it was a common thing. 

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