For the fourth time in six years, the New Palestine football team will play at Kelso Stadium for a chance to punch a ticket to Lucas Oil Stadium. The top-ranked Dragons will host Bloomington South for the semistate championship.
The Dragons are the defending Class 5A state champions and are seeking their fourth State Finals appearance since 2014 and the fifth in school history.
Bloomington South Panthers (8-4)
at No. 1/1 New Palestine Dragons (12-0)
- Time: 7 p.m. Friday, Nov. 22
- Site: Kelso Stadium, New Palestine
- Admission: $10 (PLEASE NOTE: This is an IHSAA event. New Palestine all-sports passes, season tickets and HHC passes WILL NOT be accepted. Tickets are on sale in the NPHS office during school hours until 2:30 p.m. Friday).
SETTING THE SCENE
Two schools synonymous with success in Indiana high school football – and two coaches with multiple state championship rings – meet with a trip to Lucas Oil Stadium on the line. NP has won state titles in 2014 and 2018 under the direction of coach Kyle Ralph. Bloomington South won state titles in 1993 and 1998 under the coach Mo Moriarity.
This is the first-ever meeting between the Dragons and Panthers.
NP has won 26 consecutive games and holds the second-longest regular season winning streak (63 games, 2013-present) in state history. In Week 7, the Dragons surpassed the 60-game streak held by Bloomington South from 1967-73. Penn (89 games) holds the state record.
The Dragons are seeking their fifth State Finals appearance. NP was state champion in 2014 (4A) and 2018 (5A) and the state runner-up in 1990 (3A) and 2015 (5A). NP is 4-2 all-time in semistate games. Bloomington South is seeking its fourth State Finals appearance and first since 1998. The Panthers are 3-7 all-time in semistate games.
The winner meets either Valparaiso or Fort Wayne Dwenger in next week’s State Finals at Lucas Oil Stadium. The 5A game will kick off at 7 p.m. Nov. 29.
The Dragons used a seven-and-a-half minute blitz to rally past Cathedral 35-10 last week and win the school’s seventh regional title, and fifth in seven years. Charlie Spegal gave the Dragons a 14-10 lead with a 50-yard run with 2:51 left in the third quarter. After Aven Jones recovered a fumble on Cathedral’s second snap on the next drive, Spegal took the next play 30 yards to set up his 1-yard run with :57 left in the third. After a punt, Spegal then ran for a 64-yard TD and Maxen Hook intercepted Cathedral’s first snap after the ensuing kickoff to push the lead to 35-10. NP’s 28 points came in 7:26 of clock time.
Spegal ran for 285 yards on 30 carries last week, scoring four touchdowns. It was three yards shy of his season high. He also had 14 receiving yards, giving him 299 from scrimmage. In his last 11 carries, he tallied 188 yards and three touchdowns to help break the game open. The state’s all-time rushing leader now has 10,430 career rushing yards and 2,731 yards this season. His four TDs last week give him 50 for the season and a state-record 170 for his career.
QB Lincoln Roth was 4-for-6 passing last week and is now 18-for-22 in his last two games for 205 yards. His biggest completion was a 35-yarder to Eric Roudebush that jump-started the second-half blitz.
Jones led the Red Rage with 14 tackles last week, tying the season high for a Dragon. It marked Jones’ fourth double-digit tackes game this season, and his second in three weeks. In addition, Ryker Large nabbed his third interception of the year. Hook’s pick-6 was his second pick and first defensive score this season.
The Dragons lead the state in victory margin (42.1) and are second in the state (and lead Class 5A) in points (50.8). NP is second in Class 5A and seventh in the state in scoring defense (7.8). The Dragons also lead Class 5A in rushing offense (310.8) and total offense (443.9).
SCOUTING THE PANTHERS
Bloomington South has caught stride in the tournament, beating Evansville North, Castle and Floyd Central by an average score of 40-14 – which was also the score of the Panthers’ regional win over Floyd Central.
BHSS is led by senior RB Maveric Thiery, who is averaging 115 yards per game and has run for 16 TDs. Junior QB D.J. Bull is completing 60 percent of his passes for 90 yards per game. The Panthers average 310 yards per game offensively and are outscoring teams by an average of 29-17.
All New Palestine games are broadcast on NewPalRadio.com. NPHS Athletics is on Facebook (NewPalestineDragons), Twitter (@NPHSDragons) and online (NewPalestineAthletics.com).