It’s a night of celebration in New Palestine. Not only is it homecoming night, but the Class 5A No. 2 Dragons are commemorating their gridiron history as well, which spans 50 years.
The Dragons’ football program began in 1968 under Hall of Fame inductee Marvin Shepler, who coached the team for 34 seasons. Since the launch, New Palestine has stockpiled nine sectional, five regional, three semistate and one state championship.
They’ve won their conference 16 times, and a win against the visiting Shelbyville Golden Bears (5-1, 3-1 HHC) on the Dragons’ golden anniversary could put them in position to secure No. 17.
Story continues below gallery
In Charlottesville, the surging 2A Eastern Hancock Royals welcome Class A No. 3 Monroe Central tonight, who stand unbeaten at 6-0 on the year. A late-season test, the Royals finish the regular-season against three strong foes in Monroe Central, Shenandoah and Lapel.
The Greenfield-Central Cougars are in need of a victory after dropping three straight. Traveling to Yorktown, who has lost four consecutive, the opportunity is there.
Mt. Vernon is observing daylight savings time this week, playing at HHC foe New Castle on Saturday at 1 p.m.
Shelbyville (5-1) at New Palestine (6-0)
GAME TIME: 7:30 p.m. at Kelso Stadium.
COACHES: Patrick Parks, 124-118 in 23rd year at Shelbyville. Kyle Ralph, 56-3 in 5th year at New Palestine.
LAST OUTING: Shelbyville defeated Yorktown, 29-28. New Palestine defeated Greenfield-Central, 59-3.
SERIES LAST 30 YEARS: New Palestine, 12-9.
LAST MEETING: New Palestine, 70-20, Sep. 30, 2016.
BREAKDOWN: It will be a golden night at Kelso Stadium this week as the Class 5A No. 2 New Palestine Dragons celebrate 50-years of high school football on homecoming night.
Coincidentally, they host the Golden Bears of Shelbyville, who are a respectable 5-1 on the season and 3-1 in the Hoosier Heritage Conference.
The Dragons, however, are unbeaten at 6-0 and 4-0 in the conference with 42 consecutive regular-season victories piled up since 2013. In addition to their traditional regular-season dominance, the Dragons have won a remarkable league-record 31 straight HHC games.
Nothing less than a 32nd will be acceptable for a group that is averaging 45.0 points per game and allowing 7.0. New Palestine is the third-best scoring offense in Class 5A behind Columbus East (49.5) and Decatur Central (49.3).
Shelbyville is second in the HHC, which adds emphasis to the matchup as a Dragons win and a Delta victory over Pendleton Heights will secure a share of the league title for New Palestine, two weeks ahead of schedule.
The Dragons have won five straight HHC championships and seven in the past nine years. They haven’t lost to the Golden Bears since 2012.
Luke Canfield leads the Dragons with 1,050 yards rushing on 142 carries at 7.4 yards per carry. His longest run measured 75 yards this season and he has 17 touchdowns. In Week 5, Canfield ran for 305 yards against Pendleton Heights, the second 300-yard game in New Palestine history.
Quarterback Zach Neligh has 783 yards passing with eight touchdowns, and he has racked up 707 yards rushing and another eight touchdowns.
Greenfield-Central (2-4) at Yorktown (2-4)
GAME TIME: 7:30 p.m. at Tiger Stadium.
COACHES: Adam Sherman, 8-9 in 2nd year at Greenfield-Central. Mike Wilhelm, 70-68 in 13th year at Yorktown.
LAST OUTING: Greenfield-Central lost to New Palestine, 59-3. Yorktown lost to Shelbyville, 29-28.
SERIES LAST 30 YEARS: Yorktown, 12-6.
LAST MEETING: Greenfield-Central, 28-27, OT, Sep. 30, 2016.
BREAKDOWN: The Greenfield-Central Cougars are searching for a win this week. After opening the year 2-1, the Cougars have dropped three straight with three more Hoosier Heritage Conference left before the postseason.
At 1-3 in the HHC, the Cougars will look to keep the host Yorktown Tigers (0-4) winless in conference games this season. Yorktown kicked off the year 2-0 before losing four straight.
Something will have to give this week for one of these two programs, but if history holds true, the Cougars could spring back into the win column. Greenfield-Central has won consecutive meetings with Yorktown, but each has been by one points (14-13 in 2015 and 28-27 in overtime last year).
Andrew Leslie enters tonight with 1,037 yards passing for the Cougars along with eight touchdowns. Braden Brown leads the rushing attack with 490 yards and six touchdowns with an average 6.2 yards per carry.
Mike Hoskins has accumulated 548 yards on 33 receptions for six touchdowns to give the Cougars 91.3 yards per game. Orlando Mojica is always dangerous with the ball in his grasp, compiling 296 yards on 23 receptions and two touchdowns. He has 568 all-purpose yards, which ranks first on the team.
Monroe Central (6-0) at Eastern Hancock (5-1)
GAME TIME: 7 p.m. at Knarr Field.
COACHES: John Hochstetler, 40-22 in 6th year at Monroe Central, 127-105 in 21st year overall. Jim O’Hara, 30-11 in 4th year at Eastern Hancock, 117-59 in 16th year overall.
LAST OUTING: Monroe Central defeated Wes-Del, 29-0. Eastern Hancock defeated North Decatur, 38-21.
SERIES LAST 30 YEARS: Tied, 1-1.
LAST MEETING: Monroe Central, 34-13, Sep. 30, 2016.
BREAKDOWN: Much like a perfect game in baseball, when a football team is on a hot streak, you don’t mention it. But it’s difficult to ignore the gridiron proficiency coming out of Charlottesville.
Since losing an emotional season opener on the road to Greenfield-Central 28-14 on Aug. 18, the Class 2A Eastern Hancock Royals have taken off. They are averaging 36.0 points per game and allowing 15.7.
They posted a season-high 55 points against Broad Ripple in Week 4 and 53 against South Decatur in Week 2. They’ve reached 28 points or more each game since Week 1 and now face a Monroe Central team that has been equally, if not more, prolific.
At 6-0, the Class A No. 3 Golden Bears are averaging 40.2 points per game, but more significantly, they are limiting the opposition to 3.0 points a night.
They have pitched four shutouts so far and went 11-0 in 2016 before losing in the sectional finals. In their wake last fall, Monroe Central defeated Eastern Hancock 34-13.
This year, the game is in Royals country, which could play into Eastern Hancock’s favor as they try to stymie the Golden Bears offense.
A group that does everything well, the Golden Bears are led by quarterback Casey Conatser with 1,064 yards and 15 touchdowns. Wyatt Snyder leads a group four rushers with 140 yards or more with 435 on 44 carries and eight touchdowns.
Mt. Vernon (2-4) at New Castle (3-3)
GAME TIME: Saturday, 1 p.m. at Huffman Field.
COACHES: Neil Kazmierczak, 2-4 in 1st year at Mount Vernon (Fortville), 13-15 in 3rd year overall. Kyle York, 3-3 in 1st year at New Castle.
LAST OUTING: Mount Vernon (Fortville) lost to Pendleton Heights, 23-21. New Castle lost to Delta, 56-49.
SERIES LAST 30 YEARS: Mount Vernon (Fortville), 4-0.
LAST MEETING: Mount Vernon (Fortville), 42-13, Sep. 30, 2016.
BREAKDOWN: It’s football Saturday in Henry County. Trading out Friday night’s light for some afternoon, the Mt. Vernon Marauders carry a three-game winning streak against the host New Castle Trojans into their Hoosier Heritage Conference matinee matchup.
Mt. Vernon is coming off a heartbreaking 23-21 loss in the final seconds against Pendleton Heights last week. In consecutive weeks, the Marauders offense and defense has played at a higher level. It appears three in a row isn’t far fetched.
Since producing a total of 36 points in four weeks to open the season, the Marauders have turned the corner with 52 points in two games and have won one of their last three.
Quarterback Tyson Harley has been a big part of the turnaround, passing for 387 yards with 26 completions and four touchdowns the last two games. He has two interceptions in that span compared to nine in the first four weeks, which has opened up the rushing attack more.
Brian Robinson and Justice Hill, among others, have teamed to balance out the Marauders game plan, while the defense and special teams have been opportunistic. Last week, Max Burhenn blocked a punt and returned it for a 65-yard touchdown, which netted him HHC player of the week honors.
Defense and clock management will be key this week against New Castle, who likes to air it out behind quarterback Niah Williamson. In six games, Williamson has 2,402 yards passing and 31 touchdowns.
The Trojans are averaging 44.0 points per game, but they are also surrendering 41.0.