Dragons use semistate loss as fuel for 2014


New Palestine, Ironman Challenge champs. Brian Harmon photo/Daily Reporter.

NEW PALESTINE — The New Palestine football team found the perfect gauge of its championship aspirations in the Class 4A semistate game late fast fall.

Unfortunately for the visiting Dragons, they came up well short of the mark in a 49-14 loss to Columbus East Nov. 22. The swift Olympians, led by junior running back Markell Jones, gave the previously 13-0 Dragons their lone setback – and a valuable lesson.

“Sometimes losing is necessary,” NP second-year coach Kyle Ralph said Saturday during the program’s Ironman Challenge weightlifting competition. “Even though I hate to lose and I don’t ever want to lose, sometimes it has to happen so that you really take a step back and say, ‘Okay, we got beat by a better team. What do we need to do to get to that level?’

“When you win …  you often don’t reevaluate things maybe as well as you probably should, just because what you’re doing is producing wins.”

The Dragons ran roughshod over conference and sectional competition in 2013 – the varsity unit allowed only two touchdowns all regular season and the squad captured three sectional games by a combined 148-40. But, after getting past Chatard 27-14 for the program’s first regional title since 1990, Columbus East educated the Dragons on what state-championship speed, strength and depth looks like. The following week, the Olympians edged Fort Wayne Dwenger 28-27 for the 4A title at Lucas Oil Stadium.

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