GREENFIELD — Lee Dullaghan understands the clout his last name carries.
As the grandson of legendary Indiana Football Hall of Fame coach Dick Dullaghan, who led Ben Davis to seven state titles during 20 seasons, the Greenfield-Central senior calls his family’s gridiron legacy an encompassing shadow.
One he not only basks in proudly, but he also uses to fuel his own drive.
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“I’ve always been expected to do more because of my last name,” Dullaghan said. “When you hear Dullaghan, you hear excellence, greatness, so I’ve always striven for greatness because of my name.”
Lee’s father, Jeff, achieved prominence by winning two football state titles as a standout for the Giants while playing for his dad on Indianapolis’ west side. Yet, despite the championship success of Lee’s father, there still was something he never attained.
“(My dad) never made the all-star game,” Lee Dullaghan remarked. “He’s won state titles, and I’ve never won that, but he’s never made it there, so I really wanted to make it. It was my goal.”
This week, Dullaghan’s determination was rewarded as he and New Palestine senior David Judy were both elected to the 51st Annual North-South All-Star Football Classic scheduled to be played July 14 at North Central High School.
“He was an apple that fell off that same tree,” Greenfield-Central head coach Adam Sherman said of Lee Dullaghan. “I think he’s lived up to every single letter in his last name.”
The North-South All-Star tradition has been a mainstay destination for Hancock County football players for more than four decades, dating back to New Palestine graduate Charles Colip’s selection in 1970, according to the Indiana Football Coaches Association’s archives.
In more recent terms, the honor bestowed to both Dullaghan and Judy marks the fifth straight year at least one county representative will suit up for the South All-Stars.
“It’s great that we keep getting guys into this thing every year. I think it speaks a lot about how hard all of our kids work, and then obviously those guys that have become really special players,” New Palestine head coach Kyle Ralph said. “It’s not easy to be selected into a game like this. There are a lot of requirements, so it’s great to see another one of our guys go out there one more time on a Friday night.”
Judy is the sixth Dragon named to the yearly showcase game in four seasons since Ralph took over the program. Last year, New Palestine had two seniors participate. Record-setting quarterback Alex Neligh (University of Indianapolis) and defensive back Nick Brickens (St. Francis) both played for the South All-Stars, the second time in three years two Dragons were invited.
For Judy, an honorable mention on The Associated Press All-State team, his opportunity is a nod to those often overlooked, Ralph said.
A three-year varsity starter, Judy was a key contributor for the Dragons the past four seasons. In his career, the program rolled to a Class 4A state title in 2014, two semistate championships and a 5A state runner-up finish in 2015. The Dragons gained 453.7 yards per game toward a 9-1 record in 2016 and were 50-3 with Judy on the roster.
Judy also started on the defensive line, where he had 16 tackles and two sacks last fall for the defending Hoosier Heritage Conference champions.
“Those guys up front take a huge amount of pride in what they do. Being those unsung heroes of our program, we don’t do the things that we do without those guys up front, and we’ve had some darn good ones,” Ralph said. “David is another one of those guys in that line that have done an absolutely outstanding job.”
Signing his letter of intent to continue his career at St. Francis, Judy will join fellow senior Adam Kincaid in Fort Wayne. He also will reunite with former teammates Duke Blackwell and Brickens as a member of the defending NAIA national champions.
Dullaghan is planning to attend Wabash this fall after earning All-HHC distinctions as a senior in addition to being recognized by The Associated Press as All-State honorable mention.
“When I got here, Lee was a little immature, but I can’t say the same for him now. He’s really grown up by seeing just how good he can be,” said Sherman, who led the Cougars to a 6-5 record his first year. “He’s really worked his tail off to get to this spot. There’s not a guy you can be more proud of to get this honor.”
A two-way starter at tight end and on the defensive line as a junior, Dullaghan willingly embraced a more one-dimensional role as a senior for the Cougars. While more of a blocker on offense, he was a force on the defensive line, where the team captain had 40 tackles, eight for a loss and a sack.
“We didn’t name him captain at first, but he earned his captaincy about the third week of the season,” Sherman said. “It just goes to show if you work hard and you stick to the plan that this can happen.
“Lee is a self-made man. He obviously has some physical talents and his football pedigree, but he wasn’t really on the radar. Through his belief and commitment, he made himself into an all-star.”
The 12th all-star chosen from the city of Greenfield since 1974, Dullaghan is the ninth from Greenfield-Central, according to the IFCA, and first in three years. Jacob Mize was a South All-Star in 2014.
“My goals were to be all-conference, all-state and an all-star. I got conference, was an honorable mention all-state, so I was really hoping for the all-stars,” Dullaghan said.
Present at his grandfather’s last state championship win with Ben Davis in 2002 — though too young to remember as a then 5-year-old — Dullaghan refers to a photo taken of the two fondly as evidence.
Last summer when his grandfather, who was 312-59 in his career, coached the South All-Stars for the 50th anniversary game, Dullaghan was once again in attendance. This summer, however, he won’t be a spectator.
“I went to see what it was about last year because it’s been in the back of my mind,” Dullaghan said. “I went there for the first time, and I had a feeling after watching the game that I was going to get here. I wanted to prove everyone wrong, and I made it.”
School: New Palestine
College Future: St. Francis
Height/Weight: 6-0/290 lbs.
Position: Offensive/Defensive Lineman
2016 Accolades: The Associated Press All-State honorable mention, Hoosier Heritage Conference honorable mention, All-Hancock County First Team, South All-Star.
College Future: Wabash
Height/Weight: 6-4/210 lbs.
Position: Tight End/Defensive End
2016 Accolades: All-Hoosier Heritage Conference, The Associated Press All-State honorable mention, All-Hancock County First Team, South All-Star.
What: 51st Annual North-South All-Star Football Classic
When: Friday, July 14
Where: North Central High School
Kickoff: 7 p.m.