Preview: Football opens home season against 5A No. 1 New Pal tonight


Gracie Marsh

Running back Connor Delp splits the Warren Central defense during the season opener on Friday, Aug. 23.

Mya Jones, Staff Writer

Tonight at 7 the Trojans face New Palestine, a team with a 55-game, regular-season winning streak, a team that gave the Trojans a 31-9 loss the last time they met on the fi. 

“They’re on a 55-0 win streak right now, so to give them their first loss at our home would be huge for us,” senior middle linebacker Gabe Boyd said. 

New Pal’s threat, running back Charlie Spegal, is 228 yards away from breaking the state rushing record. However junior safety Brayton Spetter is confident in the defensive work the team has put in this week at practice.

“What we’re trying to do is we’re putting in different coverages to stop him, and we’ve been working on tackling a lot this week,” Spetter said. “We’ve got to really be physical on Friday to stop him. Coach Moore’s been big about ‘don’t let this happen at our place.’ Charlie Spegal is a physical guy, so we just have to be more physical and make the big plays.” 

While the focus seems to be on Spegal, and the Trojans’ defense is aware of the beast they’ll be facing tonight, offensive line coach Troy Dice hasn’t forgotten about the Dragons’ defensive abilities.

“Their defense is very solid,” Dice said. “They’ve got a defensive end that’s committed to play at Michigan State. They have a safety, last name Hook, who’s an outstanding player. New Pal’s defense is very confident in what they do, and they play very fast and aggressively. Our job is to match that aggression and confidence with our physicality.” 

While New Pal is a strong team, winning at Kokomo last weekend 63-13, the Trojans’ task is to exploit their weaknesses.

“Our goal is to take advantage of their aggression… we’re going to attack them with downhill physical football and opportunistic play-action pass,” Dice said. 

Another weakness the 6A Trojans hope to exploit is that their 5A opponent typically faces weaker competition. Last season, the Dragons did not face any other MIC team except the Trojans.

Senior wide receiver Harrison Luck said, “I think one of their weaknesses is their strength of schedule. They don’t play as good of teams as we do all the time, and they have a lot of players that play on both sides of the ball, so they should tire easily.”

After opening the season with a 21-14 fourth quarter loss to Warren Central that saw the Trojans turn the ball over three times, the Trojans have also taken a hard look at improving their own weaknesses.

“Last week was a wake up call. We have a new mentality; we never want to feel that again, especially after losing last year’s semi-state game. We’re ready for a win. We want that feeling again,” Gabe Boyd said. 

While snapping New Pal’s 55-game winning streak would be a big accomplishment for the team, they also know that it’s just one of a 9-game regular season.

“A win would simply mean a win,” Dice said. “We take it one week at a time. Our focus is on New Pal until then, and then our focus is on correcting the mistakes we make for next week’s opponent. Our opponent is faceless, and we’re about getting better. It’s a process; it’s a long season. So, win or lose, our focus is the same. We aren’t going to get too high or too low.”