Another week, another Friday night highlighted by football rivalries. With all four Hancock County schools at home tonight, each matchup carries significant weight.
Eastern Hancock welcomes neighboring rival Knightstown to Knarr Field, where the host Royals seek to extend their winning streak against the Panthers to five straight.
At Kelso Stadium in New Palestine, the Class 5A No. 2 Dragons host Hoosier Heritage Conference foe Pendleton Heights in a battle of unbeatens.
Mt. Vernon will celebrate its new turf field while hosting HHC rival Delta in a rematch of last year’s sectional championship. The visiting Eagles bring a budding star to the stage in sophomore running back Charlie Spegal, who already has eclipsed 1,000 yards rushing.
At Greenfield-Central, it’s homecoming night, with visiting HHC foe Shelbyville standing between the Cougars and a royal triumph.
Knightstown (2-2) at Eastern Hancock (3-1)
GAME TIME: 7 p.m. at Knarr Field
COACHES: Kevin Miller, 17-29 in fifth year at Knightstown. Jim O’Hara, 28-11 in fourth year at Eastern Hancock, 115-59 in 16th year overall.
PREVIOUS OUTING: Knightstown defeated Trinity Lutheran, 55-7. Eastern Hancock defeated Indianapolis Broad Ripple, 55-0.
SERIES PAST 30 YEARS: Eastern Hancock, 18-16
MOST RECENT MEETING: Eastern Hancock, 26-21, Sept. 16, 2016.
BREAKDOWN: Few games are bigger than when Eastern Hancock faces top rival Knightstown. Separated by a mere six miles, families often are divided and friendships are put on hold with bragging rights on the line.
Since 2012, the series has been one-sided, with Eastern Hancock winning four straight. If the host Royals continued their upward trend, bouncing back from an 0-1 start to 3-1, it could push the streak to five consecutive.
The Royals posted a season-best 55 points last week against a hapless Broad Ripple team, and they are now averaging a solid 37.5 points per game. On defense, they’ve limited the opposition to 14.8 points a night.
Eastern Hancock is bulldozing the competition with 226 rushing yards per game, with A.J. Muegee (203 yards, four TDs), and Spencer Maxwell (245 yards, two TDs) leading the charge.
Jarett Lewis has passed for 571 yards, completing 37 of 71 attempts for 10 touchdowns to keep the offense balanced.
While the Panthers will provided a much tougher test against the Royals offense, Eastern Hancock is at home and in this series that is a big advantage.
The key will be slowing down Knightstown’s Tyler Burton, who has rolled to 336 yards rushing and four touchdowns this season. The Panthers are averaging 253.5 yards rushing with Burton under center. He also has 317 yards passing and six touchdowns.
Pendleton Heights (4-0, 2-0 HHC) at New Palestine (4-0, 2-0 HHC)
GAME TIME: 7:30 p.m. at Kelso Stadium
COACHES: Jed Richman, 7-8 in second year at Pendleton Heights, 42-38 in eight year overall. Kyle Ralph, 54-3 in fifth year at New Palestine.
PREVIOUS OUTING: Pendleton Heights defeated Greenfield-Central, 34-28. New Palestine defeated Mt. Vernon, 47-3.
SERIES PAST 30 YEARS: New Palestine, 16-10
MOST RECENT MEETING: New Palestine, 63-9, Sept. 16, 2016
BREAKDOWN: It’s a battle of unbeatens tonight at Kelso Stadium. While the talk of the night will be about Class 5A No. 2 New Palestine’s offense (42.5 points per game) and Pendleton Heights’ star receiver Eli Pancol, the deciding factor will be defense.
So far this season, the Dragons have been a suffocating Red Rage. Through four games, New Palestine has held the opposition to 4.5 points per game. They shut out Hoosier Heritage Conference foe Yorktown and only gave up a field goal against HHC rival Mt. Vernon last week.
Pancol and quarterback Christian Conkling can do some damage, however. Pancol has 321 yards receiving and nine touchdowns, while Conkling has passed for 569 yards and 10 touchdowns.
The Arabians can run the ball effectively as well, with Evan Douglas posting 480 yards on 68 carries with seven touchdowns. But the Arabians haven’t seen a team a fierce as conference foe New Palestine and barely escaped Greenfield-Central last week.
The Dragons posted four sacks last week, forced two turnovers and held Mt. Vernon to negative rushing yards and less than 100 yards of total offense.
Delta (3-1, 1-1 HHC) at Mt. Vernon (1-3, 0-2 HHC)
GAME TIME: 7:30 p.m. at Mt. Vernon
COACHES: Chris Overholt, 11-6 in second year at Delta. Neil Kazmierczak, 1-3 in first year at Mt. Vernon, 12-14 in third year overall
PREVIOUS OUTING: Delta defeated Yorktown, 42-12. Mt. Vernon lost to New Palestine, 47-3.
SERIES PAST 30 YEARS: Delta, 19-13
MOST RECENT MEETING: Delta, 12-6, Nov. 4, 2016, sectional
BREAKDOWN: In a rematch of last year’s sectional championship game, the host Mt. Vernon Marauders would like to score some revenge on a night they officially highlight their new turf field.
Traction, however, has been an issue for the Marauders, especially on offense. Averaging just 166 yards passing, 29 yards rushing and scoring three offensive touchdowns, Mt. Vernon is posting 11.0 points per game.
Tyson Harley has passed for 613 yards on 53 completions, but the offense has only two touchdowns to show for it and doesn’t have a single rusher with more than 81 yards.
Meanwhile, Delta’s offense is producing 32.5 points per game, and in its lone loss narrowly fell to HHC foe Shelbyville 28-21 in Week 3. Their workhorse is sophomore Charlie Spegal, who has compiled 1,141 yards rushing (not a typo) on 128 carries and 15 touchdowns.
In the past two weeks, Spegal has carried the ball 37 and 36 times for 286 and 340 yards, respectively. He’s scored no fewer than three touchdowns a night and hasn’t fallen below 200 yards rushing in any of the past four games.
Shelbyville (3-1) at Greenfield-Central (2-2)
GAME TIME: 7:30 p.m. at Cougar Stadium.
COACHES: Patrick Parks, 122-118 in 23rd year at Shelbyville. Adam Sherman, 8-7 in second year at Greenfield-Central
PREVIOUS OUTING: Shelbyville lost to New Castle, 44-21. Greenfield-Central lost to Pendleton Heights, 34-28.
SERIES PAST 30 YEARS: Shelbyville, 19-11
MOST RECENT MEETING: Shelbyville, 52-31, Sept. 16, 2016
BREAKDOWN: The Greenfield-Central Cougars almost knocked off unbeaten Pendleton Heights last week despite trailing early and finding little love from the officials.
Not to say the Arabians didn’t earn the win, but it was close, and the Cougars know they can do better if they take care of the controllable.
With it being homecoming night, the host Cougars will undoubtedly bring their A-game under the lights, and a win could shake up the HHC standings.
Both Shelbyville and Greenfield-Central are 1-1 in a four-team tie for third behind Pendleton Heights and New Palestine.
Shelbyville can do a little bit of everything on offense with Landon Watson passing for 356 yards and four touchdowns. Damon Lux has rushed for 567 yards and seven touchdowns.
The Cougars have thrived on the ground and through the air this season. Momentarily without quarterback Andrew Leslie last week, who went down with a minor injury only to return, the Cougars are averaging 202.5 yards passing per game.
Leslie has thrown for 779 yards and eight touchdowns. Braden Brown has been strong between the tackles with 388 yards on 54 carries for three touchdowns.
Meanwhile, do-it-all playmaker Orlando Mojica (264 receiving yards, two TDs) and Mike Hoskins (402 yards receiving, six TDs) can stretch the field.