Football Week 9 Breakdown

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New Palestine (8-0, 6-0) at Delta (7-1, 5-1)

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Coaches: Kyle Ralph, 82-4 in 7th year at New Palestine. Chris Overholt, 27-15 in 4th year at Delta.

Recent history: Delta leads the all-time series, 15-11. The Dragons have won six straight against the Eagles, though, including last year’s game, an 84-13 New Palestine win.

Sagarin ratings: New Palestine, 98.92, 4th overall, 2nd in 5A. Delta, 81.98, 25th overall, 2nd in 4A.

Players to watch: New Palestine — QB Lincoln Roth, RB Charlie Spegal, DL Kyle King, LB Aven Jones, LB Richard Clevenger, WR Blake Austin, WR/DB Maxen Hook, DB Brody Luker; Delta — QB Brady Hunt, WR Wesley Stitt, RB Javaughn Whitfield, WR/FS Cameron Levers, OLB Conner Bedwell

What to look for: With the conference title on the line, the Dragons blew out the Eagles a year ago, winning by 71 points and definitively taking the HHC title for themselves. The setup is the same this year – if the Eagles win, they share the conference title – but don’t expect the Dragons to let that happen. Charlie Spegal had a record day against his former team last year, rushing for just shy of 400 yards and seven touchdowns, and this will be his first game back in Muncie. Expect another big day from the state’s all-time leading rusher, who should also become the state’s all-time leading scorer in this one. The Eagles will be heavily focused on slowing Spegal down, but it didn’t work last year and isn’t likely to work again tonight. It probably won’t be a 70-plus point win again, but New Palestine should win big and a running clock in the second half wouldn’t be a surprise.

Yorktown (6-2, 4-2) at Mt. Vernon (6-2, 4-2)

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Coaches: Mike Wilhelm, 82-79 in 15th year at Yorktown. Mike Kirschner, 13-6 in 2nd year at Mt. Vernon, 122-68 in 17th year overall.

Recent history: Mt. Vernon leads the series the past 35 years, 22-11. The Marauders won last year’s season finale, 41-33.

Sagarin ratings: Mt. Vernon, 64.51, 75th overall, 18th in 4A. Yorktown, 60.66, 91st overall, 11th in 3A.

Players to watch: Mt. Vernon — QB Gehrig Slunaker, RB/FS Rylan Cole, OL/LB Charlie Moore, WR Ashden Gentry, WR Dawan Langston, RB/DB Keagan LaBelle; Yorktown — QB Reid Neal, RB Jamarius Evans, WR/FS Austin Hill, T/DE Caleb Howell, WR Walker Moore

What to look for: This should be another good game, but unlike last year, the defenses should have stronger outings. The winner will be a runner-up in the HHC, and the hosts should have a slight edge. Yorktown’s defense has been playing well since back-to-back losses to Delta and New Palestine, allowing just 25 total points in the past four games, including an impressive 15-6 win against Pendleton Heights a week ago. Mt. Vernon should be slightly favored here, but the Marauders will need to avoid the penalties and turnovers that have plagued them through parts of this season. This one could be close, but Mt. Vernon should be able to grind out their second straight second-place finish in the HHC.

Greenfield-Central (1-7, 1-5) at New Castle (2-6, 1-5)

Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.

Coaches: Travis Nolting, 1-7 in 1st year at Greenfield, 61-35 in 9th year overall. Kyle York, 13-16 in 3rd year at New Castle.

Recent history: Greenfield-Central leads the series, 16-6. New Castle won last year’s game, 28-0.

Sagarin ratings: New Castle, 39.09, 184th overall, 44th in 4A. Greenfield, 32.44, 211th overall, 48th in 4A.

Players to watch: Greenfield-Central — QB Brodie Mayberry, FB/LB Bradon Nelson, TE/LB Tyler Antic, DB Chris O’Connor, RB/LB Brayden Herrell; New Castle — QB William Grieser, WR Tytus Ragle, WR/DE Brandon Matney, WR Dakota Durick, LB JaMorion Taylor

What to look for: The Cougars have a realistic shot at getting a second win this season and a sixth-place HHC finish, which would be a big momentum boost heading into sectional play. The Cougars have backslid since their win against Shelbyville, scoring just six points the past three weeks while allowing an average of 62 points per game in that stretch. That was against the teams sitting in first through third in the conference, though, and the Trojans have struggled mightily this season. New Castle has allowed just shy of 1,000 yards rushing against them since their last win, a four-game losing streak. That bodes well for the Cougars’ wishbone offense. Greenfield-Central should find plenty of room to run tonight, while the Trojans offense will likely have more success than it has had recently. Whoever wins the turnover battle should come out on top, and with the Cougars’ struggles holding onto the ball this season, that gives New Castle the edge in this one.

Eastern Hancock (7-1) at Lapel (5-3)

Kickoff: 7 p.m.

Coaches: Doug Armstrong, 10-8 in 2nd year at Eastern Hancock, 107-87 in 18th year overall. Tim Miller, 45-45 in 8th year at Lapel.

Recent history: Eastern Hancock holds a 22-11 edge over the past 35 years. Lapel won last year’s game, 27-12.

Sagarin ratings: Eastern Hancock, 44.82, 158th overall, 20th in 2A. Lapel, 41.66, 174th overall, 26th in 2A.

Players to watch: Eastern Hancock — QB Houston Swan, RB/DB Victor Olivo, WR/FS Cole Rainbolt, RB/LB Garrett Friesen, DL Tyler Vandervliet, WR/DB Zach Arnold, WR/DB Cayden Sotelo, WR J.P. Fuchs, WR/LB Landon O’Neal; Lapel — QB Cole Jax Alexander, RB Josiah Scott, WR/SS Charlie Prough, WR/CB Tanner Mroz

What to look for: This is a huge game for both teams heading into the tournament, as neither wants to go into their respective highly-competitive sectionals on a loss. The Royals have enjoyed a huge turnaround from 2018 with a high-powered passing offense, but they proved a week ago they can win with the ground game and defense. When the Royals take care of the football, they’ve rolled this season. The lone loss was turnover-laden, and last week’s narrow win against Shenandoah nearly went the other way due to turnovers. Expect the Royals passing game to get back on track – weather permitting – tonight, and if they limit turnovers, there is no reason they shouldn’t get past Lapel and head into sectional play with an 8-1 record.