GREENFIELD — Since coming to New Palestine this winter, Dragons’ coach Kyle Ralph’s motto has been “Win the Day.”
The Dragons won the day for eight straight Friday nights, and now will have some hardware to go along with it. The Dragons clinched at least a share of the fifth Hoosier Heritage Conference championship in school history Friday with a 51-7 victory over cross-county rival Greenfield-Central.
NP, ranked No. 1 in Class 4A by the Sagarin ratings, No. 2 by the IFCA and No. 3 by the AP, improved to 8-0 with the victory and 5-0 in HHC play. A victory over Mt. Vernon next week would give them the outright conference title, while the host Marauders will be trying to forge a three-way split between themselves, NP and Yorktown.
“Next week’s obviously going to be a tough one, going against a rival and everything. (Mt. Vernon) has got a good football team. This is their chance to get a tie, so there’s a lot riding on that one,” Ralph said. “It’s nice to have at least a tie of the title, but that’s not what we want. We want it for ourselves. We’re going to get back to it this week, have some good practice, get a nice gameplan set and see what we can do next Friday.”
The Dragons’ defense provided the spark, with Nick Brickens picking off a pass on G-C’s first drive and running it back 60 yards for a TD — the team’s third defensive touchdown of the year. In the third quarter, they recorded their fourth safety when Nick Buckhorn tackled a G-C ballcarrier in the end zone. NP had four quarterback sacks and held the Cougars to 109 yards of total offense.
“That’s a big deal,” Ralph said.