It’s rivalry week. For a 13th straight season, the traveling Boundary Rail trophy is up for grabs.
Currently in the possession of Class 5A New Palestine, the 4A Mt. Vernon Marauders look to reclaim the hardware for the first time since 2012, but they’ll need to do it inside the Dragons’ lair.
No easy task as the Dragons are riding a 39-game regular-season winning streak. They haven’t lost a Hoosier Heritage Conference game in 28 straight and also hold the HHC Helmet Trophy — a symbol of dominance they’ve possessed for 24 consecutive games.
Class 5A Greenfield-Central is coming off a momentum-building shutout of rival Mt. Vernon last week, but they have no time to rest. Facing another HHC foe in unbeaten Pendleton Heights on the road, the conference race continues to heat up.
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Eastern Hancock visits winless Broad Ripple tonight, but with rival Knightstown on deck, they are aiming to win their third straight before clashing with their neighboring foe.
Mt. Vernon (1-2, 0-1 HHC) at New Palestine (3-0, 1-0 HHC)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. at Kelso Stadium
Coaches: Neil Kazmierczak, 1-2 in 1st year at Mount Vernon (Fortville), 12-13 in 3rd year overall. Kyle Ralph, 53-3 in 5th year at New Palestine
Last Outing: Mt. Vernon lost to Greenfield-Central, 27-0. New Palestine defeated Yorktown, 43-0
Series Last 30 Years: New Palestine, 24-12
Last Meeting: New Palestine, 42-0, Sep. 9, 2016
Breakdown: There are more than conference bragging rights on the line tonight at Kelso Stadium. It’s the Battle for the Boundary Rail as the host New Palestine Dragons meet the Mt. Vernon Marauders for the 56th time in school history.
The gridiron rivalry began in 1968 with New Palestine leading the series 32-22-1 against Mt. Vernon, but the clash for the Boundary Rail dates back 13 years. The Dragons have captured the rail in 11 of the previous 12 meetings, including four straight.
Unbeaten so far this season, the Dragons intend to make it five in a row for the rail behind a high-octane offense and a stingy Red Rage defense.
In three games, New Palestine is averaging 41.0 points per game and 5.0 points allowed. They blanked Yorktown last week 43-0, a week after scoring a season-high 61 points against Richmond.
The rushing attack has been off the charts with the Dragons averaging 371.7 yards per game and 126 yards passing.
Quarterback Zach Neligh passed for a career-high 200 yards last Friday and rushed for 174, while running back Luke Canfield had four touchdowns and 169 yards rushing. Canfield has nine rushing TDs this year.
A Dragons victory tonight would push the program’s regular-season winning streak to 40 games and 29 straight contests in Hoosier Heritage Conference matchups.
The Marauders are seeking consistency after losing a tough game to rival Greenfield-Central last Friday. Without last year’s leading rusher Eric Jones, who is injured and didn’t play in Week 3, Mt. Vernon is struggling to find balance on offense.
Tyson Harley has passed for 452 yards this season with two touchdowns. The Marauders are averaging 54.0 yards rushing per game. If they can cut down on the turnovers, perhaps they can build on their 11.0 points per game average.
Greenfield-Central (2-1, 1-0 HHC) at Pendleton Heights (3-0, 1-0 HHC)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m. at Arabian Field
Coaches: Adam Sherman, 8-6 in 2nd year at Greenfield-Central. Jed Richman, 6-8 in 2nd year at Pendleton Heights, 41-38 in 8th year overall
Last Outing: Greenfield-Central defeated Mt. Vernon, 27-0. Pendleton Heights defeated New Castle, 34-31
Series Last 30 Years: Pendleton Heights, 21-11
Last Meeting: Greenfield-Central, 31-18, Sep. 9, 2016
Breakdown: The Greenfield-Central Cougars are riding high after shutting out rival Mt. Vernon 27-0 at home last week. The win ended a one-sided rivalry that stretched back to 2011.
At 2-1 for a third straight season, the Cougars would like to make it 3-1 for the third time in four years at Pendleton Heights tonight.
The host Arabians, however, are unbeaten at 3-0, turning this normally intense rivalry game into a much more crucial matchup in the HHC race.
Both programs enter the night 1-0 in the HHC with Pendleton Heights averaging 40.7 points per game, including 39, 49 and 34 scored in the past three weeks.
The Arabians like to grind it out with 269 yards rushing per game, but quarterback Christian Conkling can sling it. The junior has passed for 340 yards and six touchdowns this season.
Junior Evan Douglas is the motor in the backfield with 414 yards on 53 carries with seven touchdowns. He’s averaging 7.8 yards per carry. Eli Pancol is the team’s leading receiver with 122 yards on six receptions for five touchdowns.
The Cougars can attack from various angles, especially on the ground where they have posted 445 yards on 94 carries. Braden Brown leads the charge with 278 yards and three touchdowns.
Quarterback Andrew Leslie has thrown for 583 yards and five touchdowns as the team is averaging 194 yards passing and 148.3 yards rushing a game.
The series is tied 2-2 since 2014.
Eastern Hancock (2-1) at Indianapolis Broad Ripple (0-3)
Kickoff: 7 p.m. at Deitrich Field
Coaches: Jim O’Hara, 27-11 in 4th year at Eastern Hancock, 114-59 in 16th year overall. James Brown, 0-3 in 1st year at Indianapolis Broad Ripple, 1-22 in 3rd year overall
Last Outing: Eastern Hancock defeated Northeastern, 28-24. Indianapolis Broad Ripple lost to Noblesville HomeSchool, 38-6
Series Last 30 Years: Tied, 1-1
Last Meeting: Eastern Hancock, 51-8, Sep. 9, 2016
Breakdown: After marching back to score 22-unanswered points last week to deflate host Northeastern on the road last Friday, the Class 2A Eastern Hancock Royals deserve a breather.
But they’re not overlooking winless 3A Indianapolis Broad Ripple. While the Rockets have struggle to score, averaging 4.0 points per game, the Royals are surging with back-to-back victories.
With rival Knightstown awaiting Sept. 15, the Royals will hone their game plan on both sides of scrimmage in anticipation.
On offense, the Royals came to eat last week and built upon their balance attack. In three games, they are averaging 226.3 yards rushing and 133 yards passing.
Senior quarterback Jarret Lewis is rewriting history as he goes this year, captaining the Royals with steady composure and efficiency. He’s completed 29 of 59 pass attempts for 395 yards and six touchdowns while rushing for 121 and a touchdown.
A.J. Muegge is a playmaker, rushing for 179 yards and three touchdowns while hauling in 12 receptions for 143 yards and two scores.
The defense continues to improve week to week for the Royals. They shutdown Northeastern in the second half. The unit has six fumble recoveries and two interceptions. They could pad those stats this week if they mimic their intensity from last week.