It's taken a long time in my photography career, but Friday I was finally able to cross shooting a state championship football game off my photography bucket list of things I want to be able to photograph.

Neil Burk also covered the game as a writer. So we rode together to Lucas Oil. I navigated to get us close to the stadium. Anyone that knows me knows that is one scary thought for me to guide anyone. I seriously am the most directionally challenged person on the planet. We knew traffic would be a hassle with the football games, a home Pacer game and the lighting of the circle...Traffic was more than a hassle, it was insane. We finally got parked several blocks away and after a nice walk, we made it to the stadium just in time. I must admit even though I have been on the field before, it's always kind of cool to walk out onto the field and stand on the horseshoe in the middle.

I know normally we stick with the local teams, but since The Paper's sister paper is the Noblesville Times, they needed coverage of the 5A championship game between Cathedral and Westfield , so Neil and I helped out.

Throughout the season I have been watching Westfield's scores and actually said even way before sectionals if they make the state finals I want to shoot it. I have only paid attention to Westfield because of their local ties to Montgomery County.

Head coach Jake Gilbert played at Wabash and was also North Montgomery's head football coach for six years. Then, returned to Wabash as an assistant coach for five years before landing the Westfield position.

Since by day I work at North Montgomery, I got to know and respect Coach Gilbert. He was one of the first people to greet my husband and I when we moved to Montgomery County.

He quickly invited us to his church Woodland Heights and said it would be a great way for our son who was a third grader at the time to get to know people. Anyone that knows Gilbert at all can quickly see his life revolves around three "F" words. FAITH, FAMILY AND FOOTBALL!

I knew before every game he coached at some point in time Gilbert would kneel down and say a prayer. In fact he was doing that way before Tebowing, became a thing. I was always touched by seeing that before a game. I was hoping to see the Gilbert tradition again before the state finals. Now perhaps I missed it but I did not see him kneel privately. Instead, I saw his entire football team and staff kneel down and thank the Lord for the opportunity to play in a state finals.

Also on the staff at Westfield is Blair "BJ" Schlicher. He was a part of North's state championship years in 1995 and 1996. He still holds many records at North for games overall he is the all time passing yards leader, total yards leader, and touchdown passing leader for the Chargers. He also has been an assistant coach at North under both Gilbert and Charley German.

Just in his third year at Westfield Coach Gilbert has turned the program around from losing seasons to this year a 12-2 season and a state runner up title. Pretty impressive! There season ended with a disappointing 42-18 loss to the University of Cathedral. The Irish won their 11th state title overall.

My guess is right after the game, Gilbert thanked God for the opportunity to do what he loves, hugged his family and began planning for next season to not only find a way to return to the state finals and come away with a victory. FAITH, FAMILY AND FOOTBALL is definitely how you describe Coach Gilbert!