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Muncie Central vs. #5 Kokomo (Sectional)

A defense coming in allowing 30 points per game, gave up only 20 against a team that scored 62 on them earlier in the year. No points were scored in the first quarter to a team who had scored 137 points in the first quarters of their first nine games. Did that defense’s team win? Almost. The hardest word to hear. In a thriller, #5 Kokomo squeaked by the Muncie Central Bearcats in as exciting a game as you’ll ever see 20-15. With so many positive happenings in a game the Bearcats were given no chance, almost is the word they were hoping to avoid.

Coach Adam Morris has always said if you play with emotion defensively, you play better. On this night he was correct. The defense was flying around and egnited their fans. Muncie Central controlled the line of scrimmage against Kokomo. An offense line who helped guide the Wildkats to average 49 points per game (second only to #1 New Palestine’s 66 per game) could not open up any lanes for their 1400 yard running back. If there was one side of the ball that was to shine on Friday, most would have taken the offense. Instead the defense took matters into their hands and played the game of their lives. Only a late touchdown pass would erase the memories of how great that defense actually played. They were the only team all year that did not allow a single player to rush for 100 yards. The same Muncie Central team who were down 21-0 to Kokomo before they could blink just a month earlier. The sad point other than losing? That no one will remember just how terrific the defense played.

Positives? Andre Wells, Trenton Hatfield, and Jamel Barners are all back for their final year. Defensively you return three out of four defensive lineman and three of four secondary starters. Gone will be Joe Scruggs and Vince Coleman which will hurt. However, you maybe return your most important piece in Head Coach Adam Morris. That sounds odd but hear me out. Sign #1 that this team/system is different: the opening win against Pendleton Heights on the road in runaway fashion (has historically been a lopsided series in PE favor). Sign #2: this Kokomo game. The offense opened up. The defense was prepared and played with emotion against one of the state’s best offenses. Rather than playing conservative, Coach Morris went for the win (Muncie Central led 15-14 after a successful 2-point conversion with 3 minutes to play). This has always been a basketball town but Coach Morris is doing his part in just one year to sway that fan base to pay more attention to this football team. Oh and he just might have a darkhorse Mr. Football candidate in Andre Wells. Watch out. Muncie Central is going to be special next year in football.

 

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Yorktown vs. Peru (Sectional)

Friday night was a prime example that you should never pay attention to a regular season when it comes to the IHSAA Football State Tournament. Yorktown moves on after defeating Peru in round one 35-28 to advance to play #6 in 3A Ft Wayne Bishop Luers (whom they lost to in regionals last year). The Tigers were 3-6 on the year while Peru came in 8-1. Yorktown played a prodominately 4A and 5A schedule all year. While the success wasn’t there, Coach Mike Wilhelm attributed it to playing bigger schools. For one night he was correct. For the 6th straight year, Yorktown has won at least one playoff game. To put that in perspective perennial 6A powers Center Grove, Carmel, Ben Davis, and Warren Central have lost in the opening round at least once in the last six years. Yorktown has not.

Two things stood out on Friday night. 1) Brogan Miller and Brandt Applegate were fantastic and 2) the defense is much better than what we thought. Let’s start with Brogan and Brandt. These two at times have been incredible. Not once this year were they able to display their ability for a whole game. They did so in the most important game of the year so far. Brandt had nearly 200 yards receiving while Brogan Miller had his best game of the year. Applegate has been the first read for Miller nearly all year in passing downs. He is better than just about every corner he faces. Folks, he’s just a sophomore. Oh and by the way, he sealed the game with his interception in the 4th quarter. However on offense, is where he shines. These two are going to be incredible to watch the rest of this year and into next year.

The second part was the defense. Sure, having ILB Peyton Stites back is a huge help but on Friday, they just looked more sound than they had all year long. The linebackers looked confident in their reads, the line of scrimmage was controlled, and they played with energy. The latter of those points was the biggest key and Coach Wilhelm mentioned it. Emotion is key especially on defense. You have to play with a fire and energy. For seemingly the first time all year, Yorktown did so. They had come a long way.

This Friday we have Muncie Central vs. Kokomo in their opening sectional matchup (had last week off). Kokomo is a perfect 9-0 and are one of the best teams in the state. Join us at 6:30 on Friday on 102.9 FM 1340 AM and WXFN.com!

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Delta vs. #1 New Palestine (Football)

The upset that Delta fans had hoped was not meant to be. New Palestine secured their third straight perfect regular season with a 66-29 win over Delta. Indiana Mr. Football candidate Alex Neligh continued is torrid pace with 200 yards passing 100 yards rushing and five combined touchdowns in the win. New Pal rushed for 424 yards in the game including a game high 223 from Nick Brickens in the win. Duke Blackwell had two touchdown receptions to had to his record setting total. And yet…Delta could have been in this game. What it turned out to be was just a blueprint on how to beat New Palestine. Delta couldn’t do that but they provided the formula in order to do so. Beat their secondary.

Coach Grant Zgunda mentioned they may have to pass more on first down to beat New Palestine. It didn’t result in victory but it resulted in the best game-plan for New Pal all year long. And it worked. At times it seemed as though Delta completely abandoned the run. It was the right decision. Both Tanner Lambert an Ryley Pease threw for touchdowns in the game. Oh and Mitchell Hahn was unstoppable with six catches for over 200 yards. Ok great, so what does this mean? Delta’s already powerful offense was great before but even better now. It’s clear they have one of the best running backs in the state and now they have an unstoppable receiver on the outside. Watch out.

We want to also note that in this game, Zach Mills broke the single season rushing record set by Joe Spegal just last year. Mills accomplished that in just nine games of work. Impressive by the senior. He has 1900 yards heading into the state tournament. Congratulations to Zach.

First round of sectionals this week:

Yorktown vs Peru (WXFN will carry this game on Oct. 23rd)

Delta at Greenfield Central

Muncie Central vs Kokomo (WXFN will carry this game on Oct. 30th)

 

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Muncie Central vs. McCutcheon (Football)

Muncie Central suffered defeat at home on Friday to McCutcheon 16-14. It was frustrating how they lost. Muncie Central had the ball to the take the lead with just over three minutes to play. However, misuse of the clock had them panicking after advancing the ball from their own 20 to their own 35. Then the Muncie Central pulled off a WR Jamel Barnes pass downfield that set up a field goal for the win at the end of regulation. The Bearcats missed that short field goal as time expired. It hurt because inches were the difference between 5-3 and 4-4. However, there were plenty of positives.

McCutcheon held a comfortable lead heading to the second half. They even came out of the half with a two tight end, three back set. Essentially wanted to run it down Muncie Central’s throat and shorten the game. That’s when the Bearcat offense was sparked. They were able to force a good McCutcheon team out of running the clock down. They forced a team that was 9-0 last year in the regular season to change their game plan. That would have never happened a year ago. Even when Andre Wells didn’t have a usually Andre Wells game, Muncie Central found ways to hang around. The defense led by Vince Coleman was stiffling in the second half to allow the offense more opportunities. QB Trenton Hatfield was effective in short passing. He even made some plays with his running ability. The team looked complete rather than having just a stud running back. Strides have been made with this team. They are a dangerous team to face in sectionals (8-0 Kokomo will have to travel to Muncie Central). Should be exciting to see how this season ends up for the Bearcats.

Week 9 completes the regular season. We will cover Delta vs. #1 5A defending state champion New Palestine.

https://soundcloud.com/foxsportsmuncie/muncie-central-vs-mccutcheon

https://soundcloud.com/foxsportsmuncie/muncie-central-vs-mccutcheon

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Yorktown vs Greenfield Central (Football)

It was a heartbreaking end to Friday’s game as Yorktown fell to Greenfield Central 14-13. A deflection off a Yorktown defender turned into not a pass defense but a prayer answered for Greenfield Central. A loss is a loss. No one play defines a loss. But it this case, as well as a struggling Yorktown defense played. The way the clock was controlled. How it seemed Yorktown was one step ahead the whole game, it was once again a loss on their 2015 record.

In defeat, there was positives. The Yorktown defense was fantastic. Sure the weather may have limited the Greenfield Central game plan. But what was seen was a physical defense outmatched a physical offense. Coach Mike Wilhelm saw the “nasty” (his words) that he wanted. A large part of the defensive solution was thanks to the return of ILB Peyton Stites. In his first game back from injury, he played fast and physical. The impact of his return was immediate on the first drive where he had a couple of tackles. Coach Wilhelm says he’s the leader of the defense. He played that way.

At the end of the day it was still a loss. Brogan Miller continued to look uncomfortable. The running game was spotty. Surprisingly, the offense line was controlled by the Greenfield Central defense. So what is taken away from this game? I argue the positive. For one week, you solved your defensive weakness. Anthony Todd up front will play with skill. Yorktown will recover. It’s 4 out of their last 5 ending in defeat. But Yorktown should look up. That style of defensive tenancy and a strong down hill running game CAN mean success in the tournament. The key? All three aspects have to be good at once. That’s the challenge. Will they, is the question needing answered. We will find out soon enough.

This week we have McCutcheon at Muncie Central on 102.9 FM 1340 AM and WXFN.com! Join Mark Foerster and Cliff Johnson for all the action this year.

 

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New Castle at Delta (Week 6 HS Football)

Delta improved to 4-2 on the year after an easy 55-20 win over New Castle on Friday. It was the same story as most of the season, get the ball to Zach Mills. When they do, Delta has found out he’s pretty good. Mills went over 200 yards rushing again with five touchdowns. At this pace, he will break Joe Spegal’s school record for rushing yards in a season. It was just set last year. Through six games, Mills has 1369 yards and 16 Touchdowns this year. Those numbers would be startling but Delta fans have come to get used to having a stellar feature back. Mills has been known this season to have at least one big run in every game, however, it was fullback Logan Clawson who had the most impressive run of the night for 65 yards and a touchdown. It is often forgotten that for Mills to be successful you a) have to have a great offensive line and b) a very capable fullback leading the way. Delta, for the second straight year, have a check mark next to both of those.

There was adversity early for the Eagles. After an offensive outburst in week one, Delta lost two close games. They came into their rivalry matchup with Yorktown just 1-2. When adversity strikes, you have to make adjustments. Coach Grant Zgunda’s solution? Move Ball State recruit G Kaleb Slaven to blocking Tight End. The result? Three straight wins. In moving Slaven there, Delta has been able to set the edge for Zach Mills, a problem that Delta had had early in the year. It could have gone two different ways. In desperation, Coach Zgunda’s gamble could have allowing more penetration in the middle of line. However, it proved to do the opposite. The feel around the team has been different these past three weeks. More confidence. More of an identity. This bodes well for the final three contests and, more importantly, the IHSAA Tournament.

Delta heads to Pendleton Heights this upcoming week. Fox Sports Radio Muncie will broacast Greenfield Central at Yorktown this week.

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Muncie Central vs. Arsenal Tech (Football)

On Friday night, Muncie Central showed just how far they had come. The Bearcats held a 16-0 lead at halftime only to trail 30-24 with four minutes to play to Arsenal Tech. Instead of panicking and throwing each play, they decided to give it to their work horse, Andre Wells. Maybe they didn’t expect to score as quickly as a 90 yard touchdown on the first play of the drive, but the important part was they gave the ball to their best player. Muncie Central prevailed 31-30 to improve to 3-2 on the year. It wasn’t the best game the Bearcats played all year, but it still resulted in a win.

What else did we learn? Well…Andre Wells is pretty good. On a night where he was hampered by injury, Wells still went fro 200 yards and the game winning score. Coach Adam Morris told us his vision as a running back has improved. Especially without that breakaway speed on Friday, you could see his improvement. Last year Wells was largely used as a fullback. He never saw feature back carries until this year. It doesn’t matter if he goes for 100 or 200 yards, every game there is something he does each game that makes you go wow. There are few better backs in the state this year. Bold statement, yes, but some Central Indiana schools would love to have Wells as their go to runner.

Coach Morris made a point of telling us are improved this defense is. In the waning moments of a game, they stepped up. Gerald Garret and Arsenal Tech were driving for the winning score with three minutes to play when Brent Sharp and Lorenzo Reyes spoiled a near Arsenal Tech victory. Tech was at their own 43 moving comfortably when Lorenzo Reyes had a massive tackle for loss on running back Chris Young on 1st down. After great coverage down field on 2nd down caused loss of yardage, Arsenal Tech faced a 3rd and 13 when Brent Sharp got around the edge and planted Garret to the ground for his second sack of the game. That series alone proved the proclamation from Coach Morris. Pass rush, run control, and coverage were evident on three straight plays.

Adversity. Every team goes through it. I would think coaches would prefer to go through it earlier rather than later. Muncie Central experienced it on Friday and prevailed. Sure it’s a cliché. Being battle tested helps more than a casual fan might think. With Andre Wells and an explosive offense, a much improved defense, and fan support Muncie Central will be a dangerous team come October 23rd (sectional play).

 

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Delta vs. Yorktown (Football)

When looking at the season for both teams this could be the turning point for Delta and the “where it went wrong” for Yorktown. After winning 58-28 on Friday, Delta found out one thing for sure. Zach Mills is pretty special. Mills dazzled with five rushing touchdowns on Friday en route to a historic day. It wasn’t just THAT Mills scored. It’s how he scored. Zach showed his foot speed not just in a straight line but from side to side. Time after time Mills was leaving defenders helpless in the open field. He scored three of five times from 25+ yards including a 69 yard run in the first quarter. It was incredible to watch. Ryley Pease also had an efficient day. He threw for and ran for a touchdown on the night. Mitchell Hahn caught the touchdown throw along with catching a two point conversion. All in all Delta found something on Friday night. 1) Give #1 (Mills) the ball often 2) lull the defense to sleep with the run then go over the top to 6’6 WR Mitchell Hahn. It worked to perfection for the Delta Eagles on Friday night. They are now 2-2 and snap a 3-game slide to the Yorktown in their rivalry.

On Yorktown’s side, they are searching right now. At one point in the 2nd quarter, they held a 20-6 lead. The offense was impressive along with the defense too. What happened in the second half? Well for one they ran into a great running back. However, it was on them too. There was a lack of energy. Once they were down, they looked defeated before the game was even over. Yorktown is 2-2 as well but they have many questions to answer. What is their identity going forward? That’s a question they’ll have to answer starting this Friday.

We have changed our schedule just slightly. This week we will be at Muncie Central as they host Arsenal Tech for an NCC battle. Then the following week will be Delta hosting New Castle. We look forward to Week 5!

(Listen to highlights below)

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Yorktown vs. #1 New Palestine

More depth, over matched, and outplayed. Those were the most common three words uttered about #1 in 5A New Palestine’s performance over Yorktown in a 63-7 runaway win. One word you didn’t see was outworked. Until the final whistle, Yorktown was playing hard. However hard work was not put on the scoreboard. The New Pal Dragons were clicking on all cylinders all night long. QB Alex Neligh accounted for 5 TDS (2 throwing and 3 running) while out gaining the Yorktown offense by himself. It was an absolute display by one of the state’s best teams.

From a Yorktown perspective, what does this mean? First off there is no overreaction needed. New Palestine is that good. And if they can get through Columbus East in their sectional, it wouldn’t be surprising to see them roll to another championship. One thing that was apparent was the youth of Yorktown. When down early in the 1st quarter, as most teams do, they looked shell shocked. There was certainly a lack of confidence. The coaching staff will look to that. This is going to be the best learning lesson all year for Yorktown. They started hot with two wins against two very athletic teams. Then they get blown out. Remember, the regular record does not mean a thing come tournament time. No reason Yorktown should hang their heads. For one they got beat a better team and they won’t have to see New Pal again until next year. Bottom line is Yorktown can only go up from the lesson of that performance.

This week is Delta week. Nothing needs to be said on either side to get up for this rivalry. Both schools are coming off losses which should make the match up all the more interesting.

 

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Z on the Tee September 1st (Hitting through trees)

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