For The Daily Reporter
YORKTOWN — After an hourlong lightning delay Friday night, the Class 5A top-ranked New Palestine Dragons finally started their 2015 Hoosier Heritage Conference campaign.
First stop, the Class 3A No. 7 Yorktown Tigers, where the Dragons (3-0, 1-0 HHC) came away with a convincing 63-7 win against a talented conference rival.
It’s the third straight victory for the Dragons against the Tigers (2-1, 0-1 HHC) and the second straight game in which they’ve scored more than 60 points. New Palestine scored 72 last week against Richmond.
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New Palestine head coach Kyle Ralph isn’t taking any of the credit for his team’s amazing ability to score points but is instead praising the drive of his players.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to our kids. They’ve been tremendous since the moment I got here” Ralph said.
“We try to make things fun for our kids, and they’ve bought in.”
Senior quarterback Alex Neligh stole the show with his third straight game with at least 100 yards passing and 100 yards rushing. He finished with 191 yards in the air and 164 on the ground. He also had three rushing touchdowns on the night and two scoring.
One of those touchdown throws was to fellow senior Logan Greene who caught a 76-yard heave from Neligh for the fourth score of the night. Greene finished the game with his second 100-plus yard receiving night and had a 76-yard kickoff return to start the second half.
The Dragons also clinched their 21st straight regular-season victory which ties a school record for most regular-season wins. They are also tied with Class A No. 1 North Vermilion for most consecutive wins at 18 straight.
Coach Ralph, however, is not concerned with breaking records or even with winning ball games but is instead looking to see how his players mature.
“I could really care less,” Ralph said of his team’s unbeaten streaks. “At the end of the day, it’s all about teaching young men how to be good people, and I think the game of football teaches them that more than anything.”
Ralph continued to say that the hard work his players put in during the year and during the offseason is what turns them into great young adults.
“We push our kids to the limit and they bought into that,” he said. “Going through what we put them through makes you an elite young man, and they have a lot of confidence because of that.”
Coming into this season, the Dragons felt most confident at the offensive line where they returned all five starters from last year’s state championship team.
On Friday night, the Dragons were without starting right tackle Michael Woodall, who suffered a season-ending injury last week. They now might be without left tackle Nick Derheimer who went down in the first half with a leg injury.
Still, the Dragons looked deep on the line as they plugged in players and moved the ball with ease against the Tiger front seven.
“At the start of the season I definitely did not want to find out what our depth was this year (at offensive line),” Ralph said. “As long as we’ve got kids that buy in, sacrifice and step up into tough situations though, we’re going to be fine.”
Running behind the big offensive line of was senior tailback Nick Breckins who mowed down Tiger tacklers for two scores on the night.
The Dragons will need his strong running Friday as they host Hancock County rival the Mt. Vernon Marauders.
New Palestine 63, Yorktown 7
NP (3-0, 1-0 HHC) 14 21 21 7 — 63
YT (2-1, 0-1 HHC) 0 7 0 0 — 7
NP — Alex Neligh 3-yard run(Spencer Corey kick), 8:35.
NP — Neligh 40-yard run (Corey kick), 4:54.
NP — Nick Brickens 48-yard run(Corey kick), 10:54.
NP — Logan Greene 76-yard pass from Neligh (Corey kick) , 7:13.
YT — Jordan Spangler 3-yard run (Brandt Applegate kick), 2:24.
NP — Neligh 2-yard run (Corey kick), 0:38.
NP — Greene 76-yard kickoff return(Corey kick), 11:45.
NP — Brickens 73-yard punt return (Corey kick), 10:05.
NP — Duke Blackwell 33-yard pass from Neligh (Corey kick), 2:18.
NP — Gunnar Large 5-yard run (Kyle Barton kick), 7:50.