Dragons lead selections on All-HHC football team


New Palestine’s head coach Kyle Ralph reacts after a long touchdown run by New Palestine’s Grayson Thomas to start the second half of their game against Pendleton Heights.

The Daily Reporter File Photo

Hoosier Heritage Conference champion New Palestine had a Hancock County-high seven selections and head coach Kyle Ralph was named HHC Coach of the Year for the 2023 HHC All-Conference Football Team.

The league named 32 players, 16 on offense and 16 on defense, to the team.

The Dragons won the conference with a perfect 7-0 record and were sectional and regional champions. They finished 11-3 overall.

Senior offensive lineman Ian Moore, senior wide receiver Kyler Kropp and senior running back Grayson Thomas were chosen for the offensive unit.

Moore, who signed with Ohio State Wednesday, was named the Indiana Football Coaches Association Mr. Football for offensive linemen. Kropp led the HHC in receiving yards with 784. He had 40 catches, nine for touchdowns. Thomas, a Dayton signee, was the HHC’s top rusher with 2,304 yards and top scorer with 198 points on 33 touchdowns.

Sophomore defensive lineman Abe Walling, sophomore linebacker Garrett Ranes and senior defensive back Mason Hiatt were named to the defense. Junior Jake Wells was the team’s punter.

Walling had six tackles for loss, two sacks and eight hurries. Ranes ranked fourth in the league in total tackles with 113, averaging 8.1 per game. Hiatt was 15th in tackles (76) and tied for seventh in interceptions (3). Wells averaged 33.4 yards per punt, fourth in the HHC.

Greenfield-Central, runner-up in the HHC with a 6-1 record and 9-2 overall mark, had six players make the team.

The Cougars had four on offense and two on defense.

Senior linemen Brayden Flener and Reese Hill, senior wide receiver Kirk Knecht and junior quarterback Dallas Freeman were selections for the offense.

Junior defensive lineman Payton Foley and senior linebacker Jake Hinton were chosen to the defensive team.

Both Flener and Hill were named to the IFCA Class 4A All-State team, too. Knecht was second in the conference in total receiving yards with 705. He had 41 receptions, 10 for touchdowns. Freeman completed a conference-best 62.1 percent of his passes and tossed a league-high 19 touchdowns. He ranked sixth in the league in passing yards with 1,444.

Foley had 19 tackles for loss, 4.5 sacks and 73 total tackles. Hinton was fifth in the HHC in total tackles with 98. He averaged 8.9 per game and had 20 tackles for loss.

Mt. Vernon placed fourth in the conference and had a 4-3 league mark and 7-5 overall record.

Three Marauders made the team, senior wide receiver Tre Jones, junior running back Joliba Brogan and junior defensive back DJ Johnson.

Jones had a conference-best 827 return yards to go with 683 receiving yards, third in the HHC. He had 40 receptions, eight went for touchdowns. Brogan was second in the conference in both rushing yards (1,733) and scoring (132 points, 22 touchdowns). Johnson was eighth in the conference in tackles with 88.

Other selections to the all league team included: Pendleton Heights (5-2, 7-3) – Caden Sims (WR), Dominic Apo (K), Nick Trout (LB), Nolan Souders (DB), and Clint Miller (DB); Delta (3-4, 8-4) – Jay Crawford (OL), D’Amare Hood (WR), Braxton Russell (DL), Landon Brooks (LB); Yorktown (2-5, 5-6) – Mason Moulton (QB), Ayden Ewing (RB), Jayce Key (LB); Shelbyville (1-6, 3-7) – Jacob Harker (OL), Axel Connover (DB); New Castle (0-7, 1-9) – Brenndon Thompson (DL), Tylin Thrine (DB).