There was a time when you could expect fireworks to go off at Delta High School when Charlie Spegal stepped on the field. He totaled more than 4,300 yards and 50 touchdowns in an Eagle uniform.
Spegal was at it again Friday, leading his team to a 49-13 win, eclipsing the 200-yard mark for the 24th time in his career and tying the state scoring record with his three touchdowns.
Only this time, there were no fireworks. Even the fans in Delta’s stands were quiet.
Why? Spegal played for New Palestine.
“It was weird,” Spegal said. “My first two seasons were here. I know those kids from metro football league and stuff like that, so it was definitely weird.”
After suiting up for Delta (7-2) during the 2016 and 2017 seasons, Spegal transferred to New Palestine (9-0) where he picked up right where he left off. In his first game ever playing opposite the Eagles in 2018, he rushed for a Dragon-record 387 yards and seven touchdowns on just 16 carries.
Friday featured more of the same as he found the end zone on a 58-yard run not two minutes into the game.
Despite Spegal playing on the opposing side now, Delta head coach Chris Overholt said there is no bad blood.
“We’re rooting against the other team when they play us. Always. It doesn’t matter if it’s my grandma,” Overholt said. “For [Spegal] to have the season he’s had and career he’s had … we feel a part of that. He’s having a great career, and he’s going to put it way out of reach of anyone else. We’re proud to be a part of it too.”
Along with his newly-achieved scoring milestone, Spegal also holds Indiana’s record for rushing yards and touchdowns. When he broke the yardage record Sept. 6, Eagle running back Wesley Stitt said there was nothing but support from Delta’s end.
“Charlie’s a hell of an athlete — probably the greatest,” Stitt said. “I was texting him when he got the all-time state rushing record. We keep in touch. He’s a heck of a ballplayer, and he’s got big things coming in the future.”
Spegal said he's thankful his old teammates still have his back.
"That's high sportsmanship. That's really special," Spegal said. "That just shows how good of kids they are. Anybody could be mad at me, and there's a few people that were. They're my friends, they understand. They're just really cool people for that."
Spegal’s opening-drive touchdown was the only score of the first quarter. He came close to a second, but Delta’s defense made three stops in a row at the goal line, leading to a turnover on downs.
The Eagles ended the first quarter only down seven, and Overholt said it was encouraging to see, especially given that Delta hadn’t beat New Palestine since 2012.
“When they got loose on that first one, I think we kind of took a deep breath and said, ‘OK, we’re a lot better than this,’” Overholt said. “After the first quarter, we knew from a physicality standpoint we could hang with them. It was just how long and how many opportunities we were going to give them.”
Opportunities came for the Dragons in the second quarter as they took advantage of two punts and a pair of Eagle turnovers to head into halftime with a 35-0 lead.
Delta came out of the locker room hungry. The Eagles only recorded 25 passing yards in the first half, and they got more than that on one play as Brady Hunt connected with Cameron Levers for 46 yards. Hunt subsequently dumped a touchdown pass to Malachi Silmon to get their first points on the board. But with a running clock and a large deficit, Stitt said it was a case of too little too late.
“Scoring that quick—it was a good feeling,” Stitt said. “As far as I’m concerned, we tied that third quarter. They scored once, we scored once. We felt pretty confident even after that. Granted, the clock running nonstop killed us … We just didn’t have enough time.”
Both teams went on to score twice in the second half en route to a 49-13 victory for New Palestine. The Dragons have now won 23 straight games, 63 straight in the regular season and seven straight against Delta.
The Eagles’ next contest is Friday, Oct. 25 at Mississinewa for the first round of Sectionals.
Contact Zach Piatt with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @zachpiatt13.