NEW PALESTINE — New Palestine obviously took a 35-point defeat Mt. Vernon laid on it a week ago to heart Friday night when the teams met again in the opener of Class 4A-Sectional 13.
The Dragons adjusted to the vaunted run game of the Class 4A-No. 4 Marauders, while offensively NP pounded its north-county rival through the air.
But aspiring great teams usually find ways to win, and that’s exactly what MV was able to do late in the game.
After a first half of back-and-forth football that ended even at 21, the Marauders pulled away from the undermanned Dragons and posted a 40-21 win, their ninth in succession.
MV (9-1) won its first postseason game in three years and will host Pendleton Heights (8-2) next Friday in the second round of the sectional.
The Dragons finished a tumultuous season 3-7, their worst mark since the 2001 squad went 1-9 in original NP coach Marvin Shepler’s final year.
“We had a scheme that was better than last week’s game and the kids bought into it,” said NP coach Charlie Hill, who took over in July after Tim Able resigned. “We put a lot of pressure on kids that have been through a lot of struggles, and they responded very well.”
That in part involved jamming the interior to try to slow MV’s backs, such as 1,000-yard runners Tyler Dicks and Anthony Burnett, and it worked for stretches.