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Indiana High School Football State Champs

In sports, every team, at every level, strives to be the best. This is no exception when it comes to Indiana High School Football.

Since the gridiron game began in the Hoosier state in the late 1800s, teams have tried to prove they are No. 1. However, the method for teams to prove this has changed greatly over time.

In terms of selecting the No. 1 team, AlmanacSports.com has broken down the history of Indiana high school football into five distinct time periods:

Nothing official about it (1800s to 1926)


In the early, early days of football, there were no playoffs, no polls...only teams struggling to find other teams to play. As the sport grew and programs began to excel, an undefeated season would no doubt bring with it claims for the state championship, often bolstered by the local newspaper that covered the school.

But let's not take anything away from those early teams just because there was no method of selecting the No. 1 team. There was no way to prove or disprove who was the best, so, for this era, if a team had a great season, claimed to be the state champs and was backed by a newspaper or some other worthy source, who are we to argue?

Year Champion Record Source
1895 Terre Haute ??? Unknown
1902 Marion 9-0 Unknown
1906 Brazil 8-0 Indianapolis News article
Indianapolis Shortridge ??? Unknown
1910 Brazil ??? Unknown
Brownstown ??? Unknown
Logansport 5-1 Unknown
Worthington ??? Unknown
1911 Brownsburg ??? Unknown
1912 Sheridan 3-0-1 Unknown
1913 Evansville 6-0-1 Unknown
1914 Kirklin 7-0 Unknown
1915 Gary 6-0 Unknown
1916 Gary 6-1-1 Unknown
1917 Morocco ??? Indianapolis News article
Sheridan 6-0 Indianapolis Star article
1918 Kentland 7-0 Unknown
1919 Bicknell ??? Unknown
Evansville Central 7-2 Unknown
New Albany 6-2-1 Unknown
1920 Mishawaka 7-0-2 Unknown
Wabash 8-0 Unknown
1921 Evansville Central 8-1 Unknown
Gary Emerson 7-0 Unknown
Kirklin 6-0 Unknown
1922 Gary Emerson 9-0 Unknown
1923 Gary Emerson 9-0-1 Unknown
1924 Elkhart 9-0 Unknown
1925 Mishawaka 8-0 Unknown
1926 Gary Emerson 8-0-1 Unknown
Jasonville 8-0 Unknown
Mishawaka 8-0 Unknown

The sportswriter says... (1927 to 1952)


In 1926, three different schools were dubbed state champs by various newspapers, all with a legit claim. Dick Miller, the sports editor of the Indianapolis Times, decided that something different needed to be done when it came to selecting No. 1. Beginning in 1927, he got the blessing of the Indiana High School Athletic Association to award a trophy to the best team in the state.

Given with the approval of the IHSAA board of controls, Miller himself would award the trophy, called "Triumph," to the "Most Outstanding Team" in Indiana. (The board made it clear that they did not approve any team as the official champion.)

Even after Miller left to become the Associated Press sports editor for Ohio in 1939, the champion was named by an individual. Another example was the Litkenhous Grid Ratings, developed by Edward Litkenhous, a noted mathematician. Even still, there were a few unknown selectors that our research hasn't yet been able to identify.

Year Champion Record Selector
1927 Gary Froebel 9-0 Miller
1928 Clinton 10-0 Miller
1929 Gary Mann 9-1 Miller
1930 Gary Emerson 8-1-1 Miller
1931 Indianapolis Cathedral 9-0 Unknown
South Bend Central 11-0 Miller
1932 Clinton 9-1 Miller
1933 Clinton 9-0-1 Miller
Evansville Reitz 9-0 Unknown
1934 Muncie 9-0 Miller
Terre Haute Garfield ??? Unknown
1935 Evansville Memorial 8-0-1 Miller
Terre Haute Garfield ??? Unknown
1936 Gary Mann 9-1 Miller
1937 Hammond 10-0 AP; Miller
1938 Evansville Memorial 8-1 AP; Miller
1939 South Bend Washington 9-0-1 AP
1940 Evansville Reitz 8-0-1 Unknown
Fort Wayne North 8-0 AP
1941 Gary Wallace 9-0 AP
1942 East Chicago Washington 9-0 AP
1943 South Bend Washington 10-0 AP
Terre Haute Wiley ?-0-? Unknown
1944 Muncie Central 9-0 AP
South Bend Washington 9-0-1 UP
1945 East Chicago Roosevelt 10-0 AP; UP
1946 East Chicago Roosevelt 10-0 AP; Litkenhous; UP
1947 East Chicago Roosevelt 10-0 AP; UP
1948 Evansville Reitz 10-0 AP; Litkenhous; UP
1949 East Chicago Roosevelt 10-0 Litkenhous; UP
1950 East Chicago Washington 7-1 UP
Fort Wayne Central Catholic 10-0 Litkenhous; UP
Gary Roosevelt 8-0-1 UP
Lafayette Jefferson 9-0 UP
Mishawaka 8-1 UP
1951 East Chicago Roosevelt 7-1 UP
Hammond Noll 9-0-1 UP
Linton-Stockton 10-0 UP
Richmond 9-0 UP
South Bend Central 9-1 Litkenhous; UP
1952 Richmond 10-0 Litkenhous; UP

The Polls Rule (1953 to 1972)


Though the United Press had published a "Big Ten" beginning in 1945 (a list of the top 10 teams in the state), it wasn't until 1953 that the UP decided to follow the lead of college football and poll the coaches to see which team they thought was No. 1.

The International New Service began their own poll in 1956 and the Associated Press started polling the sportswriters in 1959. Thus began the era of the polls.

Other state champion selectors were still out there, such as the Litkenhous Ratings and the Dunkel Index, but it was the AP or UPI (the merger of the UP and INS in 1958) that garnered the most attention.

Year Champion Record Selector
1953 Evansville Reitz 10-0 Unknown
South Bend Washington 10-0 UP
1954 Whiting 8-1 UP
1955 East Chicago Roosevelt 9-0 Dunkel; Litkenhous; UP
1956 Evansville Reitz 9-0-1 Litkenhous
Richmond 9-0 INS; UP
1957 East Chicago Roosevelt 8-0-1 UP
Evansville Reitz 10-0 INS; Litkenhous; UP
1958 South Bend Central 10-0 Litkenhous; UPI
1959 South Bend Central 10-0 AP; Litkenhous; UPI
1960 Evansville Reitz 9-0 AP; Litkenhous; UPI
Hammond 10-0 AP
1961 Evansville Reitz 9-0 AP; Litkenhous; UPI
1962 Hammond 10-0 AP; Litkenhous; UPI
1963 Elkhart 10-0 AP; Litkenhous; UPI
1964 Kokomo 10-0 Litkenhous
South Bend St. Joseph's 9-0-1 AP; UPI
1965 Hammond Morton 10-0 AP; UPI
1966 Indianapolis Washington 10-0 AP; UPI
1967 Richmond 10-0 AP; UPI
1968 Bloomington 10-0 AP
Elkhart 10-0 Litkenhous; UPI
1969 South Bend Washington 10-0 AP; UPI
1970 Elkhart 10-0 AP; UPI
1971 Evansville Reitz 10-0 AP; UPI
1972 Bloomington South 10-0 AP; Litkenhous; UPI

Points & Clusters (1973 to 1984)


The polls have continued to present day, but with the advent of the playoffs, their importance in determining a state champion has been eliminated.

After years of study, preparation and politics, finally, in 1973, to the excitement and joy of all high school football fans, the IHSAA began a playoff system. While it was better than nothing, players, coaches and fans soon found out that it wasn't perfect. A points system was used to qualify for the playoffs, but with only twelve schools advancing (four teams in three classes), many one-loss and even undefeated teams never got the chance to play for a state title.

Even though the playoffs were doubled to 24 teams in 1976 and again to 48 in 1981, the system still needed some tweaking. This came in the form of the clusters in 1983. Every team in the state was put into groups of four to six teams...whichever won their cluster advanced to the postseason. Now every team had a shot. It made sense. But there were some flaws to this method, also.

The major drawback was that a team could win their cluster with a 4-0 record, yet finish 4-6 overall and make the playoffs, while a team that finished second in the cluster at 3-1 could finish 9-1 overall, but be left out in the cold.

Additionally, the cluster format, had it remained, might have meant the end to several long-lasting conferences.

Year Champion Record Class
1973 South Bend Washington 12-0 3A
Greenfield-Central 12-0 2A
Mishawaka Marian 10-2 1A
1974 Indianapolis Washington 12-0 3A
Blackford 12-0 2A
Garrett 11-0 1A
1975 Valparaiso 12-0 3A
Mishawaka Marian 11-0 2A
Lawrenceburg 11-1 1A
1976 Merrillville 11-1 3A
Mishawaka Marian 12-0 2A
Lafayette Central Catholic 11-2 1A
1977 Portage 12-1 3A
Plymouth 13-0 2A
Indianapolis Ritter 11-1 1A
1978 Carmel 13-0 3A
Goshen 12-1 2A
Lawrenceburg 13-0 1A
1979 Columbus East 13-0 3A
Blackford 13-0 2A
Tippecanoe Valley 13-0 1A
1980 Carmel 13-0 3A
Franklin Central 13-0 2A
Sheridan 13-0 1A
1981 Carmel 14-0 3A
Franklin Central 12-1 2A
Hamilton Southeastern 14-0 1A
1982 Castle 14-0 3A
Franklin Central 12-2 2A
Oak Hill 13-1 1A
1983 Penn 14-0 4A
Fort Wayne Dwenger 14-0 3A
Indianapolis Chatard 14-0 2A
Fountain Central 13-1 1A
1984 Warren Central 14-0 4A
Brownsburg 14-0 3A
Indianapolis Chatard 13-1 2A
Sheridan 14-0 1A

Let 'em all in! (1985 to present)


It works in basketball and all other sports, so the powers that be decided to let every football school participate in the postseason. Now a bad start or an early injury to a key player won't kill your chances of going all the way. Indiana is the only state in the Union that does it this way.

As it stands now, there are five classes. Once the number of football playing schools goes over 320, a format change will need to be adopted, such as a mid-week play-in game or adding a sixth class. Regardless, it's safe to say that we have a pretty good system in place.

Year Champion Record Class
1985 Warren Central 14-0 5A
Brownsburg 14-0 4A
Roncalli (Indianapolis.) 13-1 3A
Fort Wayne Luers 11-3 2A
Eastern Hancock 13-1 1A
1986 Carmel 14-0 5A
DeKalb 13-1 4A
Indianapolis Cathedral 12-2 3A
Whitko 14-0 2A
South Putnam 11-3 1A
1987 Ben Davis 12-2 5A
Hobart 14-0 4A
Zionsville 14-0 3A
Rochester 12-2 2A
Sheridan 12-2 1A
1988 Ben Davis 14-0 5A
Goshen 14-0 4A
Roncalli (Indianapolis) 12-2 3A
Western Boone 13-1 2A
Sheridan 14-0 1A
1989 Carmel 13-1 5A
Hobart 13-1 4A
Hammond Noll 13-1 3A
Fort Wayne Luers 12-2 2A
Bremen 11-3 1A
1990 Ben Davis 13-1 5A
Franklin Central 14-0 4A
Fort Wayne Dwenger 14-0 3A
Indianapolis Scecina 9-5 2A
South Decatur 13-0 1A
1991 Ben Davis 14-0 5A
Hobart 13-1 4A
Fort Wayne Dwenger 13-1 3A
Indianapolis Scecina 11-3 2A
Jimtown 12-1 1A
1992 Fort Wayne Snider 14-0 5A
Harrison (West Lafayette) 13-1 4A
Indianapolis Cathedral 12-2 3A
Fort Wayne Luers 13-1 2A
Sheridan 10-4 1A
1993 Bloomington South 14-0 5A
Hobart 13-1 4A
Roncalli (Indianapolis) 14-0 3A
West Lafayette 14-0 2A
North Miami 14-0 1A
1994 Castle 12-2 5A
East Central 14-0 4A
Roncalli (Indianapolis) 12-2 3A
Bremen 12-2 2A
North White 14-0 1A
1995 Penn 14-0 5A
Fort Wayne Wayne 12-2 4A
South Bend St. Joseph's 14-0 3A
North Montgomery 13-1 2A
Carroll (Flora) 13-1 1A
1996 Penn 13-1 5A
Indianapolis Cathedral 14-0 4A
Zionsville 14-0 3A
North Montgomery 13-1 2A
Tri-West 14-0 1A
1997 Penn 14-1 5A
Griffith 14-1 4A
Indianapolis Chatard 14-1 3A
Jimtown 15-0 2A
Pioneer 15-0 1A
1998 Bloomington South 14-0 5A
Indianapolis Cathedral 13-2 4A
Indianapolis Chatard 13-2 3A
Jimtown 15-0 2A
Sheridan 14-1 1A
1999 Ben Davis 15-0 5A
Indianapolis Cathedral 13-2 4A
Roncalli (Indianapolis) 15-0 3A
Fort Wayne Luers 13-2 2A
Lafayette Central Catholic 14-0 1A
2000 Penn 14-1 5A
East Noble 14-1 4A
Heritage Hills 15-0 3A
Evansville Mater Dei 15-0 2A
Adams Central 12-3 1A
2001 Ben Davis 15-0 5A
Jasper 13-1 4A
Indianapolis Chatard 11-4 3A
Fort Wayne Luers 14-0 2A
Southern Wells 14-1 1A
2002 Ben Davis 12-3 5A
Roncalli (Indianapolis) 10-4 4A
Indianapolis Chatard 15-0 3A
Fort Wayne Luers 12-3 2A
Southwood 13-1 1A
2003 Warren Central 13-2 5A
Roncalli (Indianapolis) 12-3 4A
Indianapolis Chatard 14-1 3A
Tri-West 14-1 2A
Indianapolis Ritter 12-2 1A
2004 Warren Central 14-1 5A
Roncalli (Indianapolis) 13-2 4A
Andrean 13-2 3A
Tri-West Hendricks 15-0 2A
Seeger 15-0 1A
2005 Warren Central 14-1 5A
Lowell 11-4 4A
NorthWood 9-6 3A
Jimtown 14-1 2A
Sheridan 13-2 1A
2006 Warren Central 15-0 5A
Indianapolis Cathedral 13-2 4A
Indianapolis Chatard 14-1 3A
Harding (Fort Wayne) 12-3 2A
Sheridan 15-0 1A
2007 Carmel 13-2 5A
Evansville Reitz 15-0 4A
Indianapolis Chatard 12-3 3A
Fort Wayne Luers 11-4 2A
Sheridan 15-0 1A
2008 Center Grove 14-1 5A
Indianapolis Cathedral 12-2 4A
Bellmont 14-1 3A
Heritage Christian 14-1 2A
Indianapolis Ritter 15-0 1A
2009 Warren Central 13-2 5A
Evansville Reitz 15-0 4A
West Lafayette 15-0 3A
Fort Wayne Luers 10-5 2A
Lafayette Central Catholic 15-0 1A
2010 Fishers 14-1 5A
Indianapolis Cathedral 12-3 4A
Indianapolis Chatard 11-4 3A
Fort Wayne Luers 14-1 2A
Lafayette Central Catholic 15-0 1A
2011 Carmel 14-1 5A
Indianapolis Cathedral 12-3 4A
Indianapolis Chatard 13-2 3A
Fort Wayne Luers 13-1 2A
Lafayette Central Catholic 15-0 1A
2012 Lawrence Central 15-0 5A
Indianapolis Cathedral 10-5 4A
Indianapolis Chatard 13-2 3A
Fort Wayne Luers 11-4 2A
Lafayette Central Catholic 14-1 1A
2013 Warren Central 11-3 6A
Indianapolis Cathedral 10-5 5A
Columbus East 15-0 4A
Andrean 15-0 3A
Indianapolis Ritter 13-2 2A
Tri-Central 14-1 1A
2014 Ben Davis 12-2 6A
Indianapolis Cathedral 9-5 5A
New Palestine 15-0 4A
Tri-West 14-1 3A
Rensselaer Central 15-0 2A
North Vermillion 15-0 1A
2015 Center Grove 14-0 6A
Fort Wayne Snider 13-1 5A
Fort Wayne Dwenger 14-1 4A
Indianapolis Chatard 12-3 3A
Monrovia 14-1 2A
Lafayette Central Catholic 15-0 1A
2016 Carmel 10-4 6A
Westfield 12-2 5A
Roncalli 15-0 4A
Fort Wayne Concordia 13-2 3A
Indianapolis Ritter 11-4 2A
Linton-Stockton 15-0 1A
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