The Dragons open tournament play as they travel to No. 7 Zionsville for a sectional semifinal showdown.
Class 5A Sectional 12 semifinal
No. 1/1 New Palestine Dragons (9-0, 7-0 Hoosier Heritage)
at No. 7/7 Zionsville Eagles (6-4, 4-3 Hoosier Crossroads)
Date: 7 p.m. Friday, Oct. 26
Site: Zionsville High School, 1000 Mulberry Street, Zionsville (directions) Fans are encouraged to LEAVE EARLY and enter the Zionsville campus from the north via Mulberry Street.
Admission: $6 (pre-sale tickets available at NPHS through noon Friday. Fans are STRONGLY encouraged to purchase presale tickets).
- New Pal Radio (link to listen or click the embedded link below). Coverage begins at 6 p.m.
SETTING THE SCENE
For the third time in four years, the Dragons and Eagles meet in the IHSAA tournament. This time, it will be for a spot in the sectional championship game against either Greenfield-Central or Anderson. While NP had a bye week last week, Zionsville beat Muncie Central 52-0 in the opening round.
New Palestine won its sixth straight HHC title against Delta. It was the 10th HHC title and 20th overall conference title won by a Dragon football team, including the eighth in the last nine years.
The Dragons enter the tourney having finished their sixth straight unbeaten regular season. The 54-game winning streak is the fifth-longest in Indiana history.
The game features NP’s 2,164-yard rusher in Charlie Spegal and a 2,014-yard passer in Zionsville senior Josh Wagner.
The Dragons had one of their most offensively efficient days in school history in their regular season finale against Delta, an 84-13 victory. NP scored 12 TDs in 39 offensive snaps, including seven by junior RB Charlie Spegal. Spegal ran for 387 yards, breaking Chris Grider’s 16-year-old school record of 336. The Dragons rushed for a school-record 574 yards and tied a school record with 84 points. The 704 total yards were fifth-most in school history. Luke Ely and Zach Neligh had rushing TDs. Neligh also threw for 127 yards, including TDs to Maxen Hook and Brody Luker. Chris Guhl also threw a TD pass to Nick Payton.
At 65.33 points per game, the Dragons sport the state’s top scoring offense. NP is second to Pioneer with a 56-point victory margin. The Dragons’ 588 points are third-most in school history, second only to the 2015 state runner-up team (854 in 14 games, state record) and 2014 championship team (851 in 15 games).
Spegal leads the nation in scoring (49 TDs, 296 points) and is sixth in total rushing yards (2,164). He is currently 16th in IHSAA history in single-season scoring, 19th in career scoring (596) and 14th in career rushing yards (6,507).
Neligh needs 34 yards of total offense to reach 5,000 for his career. He has thrown for 2,935 career yards and rushed for 2,031. This season, he has accounted for 24 total touchdowns and thrown for 1,045 yards. He has rushed for 718.
NP has had great balance all year. Thirteen different players have scored an offensive touchdown, including seven receivers. Thirteen different players have caught at least two passes.
Senior WR Colby Jenkins needs 52 receiving yards to reach 1,500 for his career. He is third all-time in NP history in receiving yards. He needs one TD reception to tie Josh Penley for third all-time with 20.
SCOUTING THE EAGLES
Zionsville enters this week having won three straight, including a 32-29 victory over then-6A No. 3 Avon on Oct. 5. The Eagles then beat Fishers 13-12 before last weeks’s win over Muncie Central.
Wagner completed 17-of-18 for 157 yards and three TDs in last week’s win. Zionsville rushed for 232 yards, led by 87 from freshman Colin Price and 79 from junior Gus Baumgartner.
Wagner has completed 64 percent of his passes for 2,014 yards, completing 67 for 941 yards to Tommy Fossett and 49 for 936 yards to tight end Jordan Hull. Zionsville averages 397.7 yards per game of offense, with 261.9 coming through the air. Baumgartner leads the running game with 645 yards, while Price has rushed for 396.
Tonight’s winner plays either Greenfield-Central or Anderson next week. If the Dragons win, they would would visit Greenfield-Central but host Anderson.