H.S. Football Breakdown: Dragons, Cougars set to collide

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HANCOCK COUNTY — There will be a sea of orange in the stands tonight at Greenfield-Central High School, and the Cougars student section will be donning the color for a good cause.

In honor of former Greenfield student, Quinton Batton, a senior at Morristown High School, the Cougars are conducting an “Orange Out” night.

Batton was recently diagnosed with AML Leukemia, and to show their support, the Cougars student section and community is standing behind their hometown friend.

Batton, a basketball player at Morristown, is preparing for treatments to fight the disease for the next several months. Many have contributed to his GoFundMe page, “Battle with Q,” organized by Brooke Andrus.

Donations will be used to assist the family with transportation costs and ongoing medical and food expenses.

On the field, the Cougars (3-2) will look to honor Batton with a potential third straight victory this season.

It won’t be an easy task, however, against Hoosier Heritage Conference foe New Palestine (2-3), which is currently 2-1 in the conference. The Cougars stand at 1-1 in the HHC. Kickoff has been moved from 7 to 7:30 p.m.

HHC front-runner Mt. Vernon (4-1, 3-0 HHC) is chasing down their potential fifth straight victory as they host rival Pendleton Heights (3-2, 1-2 HHC).

The Class 4A sixth-ranked Marauders have won five consecutive against the visiting Arabians, including twice in sectional play the past two years.

Meanwhile, 2A Eastern Hancock is hitting the road and busing approximately 148 miles (round trip) to face non-conference opponent Class A Milan (2-3).

The Royals (3-2) have lost two straight games and are hoping a long bus ride will mark an end to their current losing streak.

Here’s a breakdown of each match-up entering Friday night.

New Palestine (2-3, 2-1 HHC) at Greenfield-Central (3-2, 1-1 HHC)

Mt. Vernon's Keagan La Belle (32) makes a sliding tackle on Greenfield-Central's Brodie Mayberry (18) before he can get around the corner on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (Rob Baker/Daily Reporter)
Mt. Vernon’s Keagan La Belle (32) makes a sliding tackle on Greenfield-Central’s Brodie Mayberry (18) before he can get around the corner on Saturday, Sept. 4, 2021. (Rob Baker/Daily Reporter)

Game time: 7:30 p.m.

Coaches: Kyle Ralph, 98-9 in ninth year at New Palestine. Travis Nolting, 8-16 in third year at Greenfield, 68-44 in 11th year overall.

Last game: New Palestine defeated Pendleton Heights, 38-3. Greenfield defeated Fort Loramie (Ohio), 28-18.

Series info: New Palestine holds a 23-5 series lead in the past 35 years and won the last meeting, 17-14, on Sept. 25, 2020.

What we learned: Contrary to popular opinion, the 5A Dragons’ season is far from over. While no longer ranked in the state after losing to rival Mt. Vernon, 49-10, in Week 4, the Dragons unloaded on Pendleton Heights last week.

Nearly matching their largest offense output this season, the Dragons rolled past the Arabians, 38-3, to the tune of 191 yards passing and 264 yards rushing.

They scored five touchdowns, including four rushing as sophomore running back Grayson Thomas gained 125 yards and averaged 7.8 yards per carry en route to two scores.

Senior quarterback Damon Hockett completed 7 of 14 pass attempts. Isaiah Thacker posted 138 yards and a touchdown reception on three catches. His longest went for 72 yards.

Michael Thacker led the Red Rage on defense with 10 total tackles, and Eian Roudebush had two tackles for a loss, including nine total takedowns overall. Each posted one sack. Gus Walling and Isaiah Thacker added interceptions.

The Cougars ran wild against Ohio’s Fort Loramie. Greenfield-Central posted 271 yards rushing with three touchdowns to win 28-18.

Two touchdowns went to Rashawn Street and the other came from Joey Roland. The duo combined for 81 yards on 11 carries. Andrew Zellers had the steady hands, however, amassing 129 yards on 24 carries.

This game will be a battle upfront with both lines vying for the advantage. Last year’s meeting was settled by a mere three points.

Pendleton Heights (3-2, 1-2 HHC) at Mt. Vernon (4-1, 3-0 HHC)

Game time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: Jed Richman, 34-26 in sixth year at Pendleton Heights, 69-56 in 12th year overall. Vince Lidy, 4-1 in first year at Mt. Vernon.

Last game: Pendleton Heights lost to New Palestine, 38-3. Mt. Vernon defeated Delta, 56-31.

Series info: Mt. Vernon holds a 24-18 series lead in the past 35 years and won the last meeting, 32-7, on Oct. 30, 2020.

What we learned: The Marauders aren’t slowing down anytime soon.

Their Week 1 loss to Noblesville is a distant memory and the Marauders’ skill-position players are making it a point to bury the past and every opponent each week.

Balance has been the key, and the Marauders are producing plenty of it.

Last week, quarterback Gehrig Slunaker completed 9 of 12 pass attempts for 214 yards and two touchdowns. The running game hit its stride against HHC foe Delta, posting a season-best 228 yards on 29 carries with five touchdowns.

Their 56 points scored was a season high, and senior Ashden Gentry is picking it up. He had 139 yards on two receptions for two touchdowns while senior running back Keagan La Belle continues to be a force in the backfield, on defense and on special teams.

Owen Johnson and company are finding their identity on defense with each passing week. This team is gearing up for a potential third straight sectional title run, not to mention another shot at the HHC title.

Eastern Hancock (3-2) at Milan (2-3)

Game time: 7 p.m.

Coaches: Phil Morris, 3-2 in first year at Eastern Hancock, 26-39 in seventh year overall. Ryan Langferman, 96-59 in 14th year at Milan.

Last game: Eastern Hancock lost to South Putnam, 20-7. Milan defeated New Miami (Ohio), 39-6.

Series info: Eastern Hancock holds an 8-6 series advantage in the past 35 years and won the last meeting, 26-14, on Sept. 11, 2015.

What we learned: The Royals haven’t produced more than 200 yards in total offense since Week 3.

As a result, they’ve lost two straight games. This week, they’ll look to get back on track after rushing for 62 yards and passing for 108 in their 21-7 loss to South Putnam.

Their trip to Milan will be a journey, no question. But, perhaps they can leave their offensive woes in the rear view mirror following two straight weeks of only one touchdown scored in eight quarters.