Mount Vernon (9-2) defeated New Castle (4-7) earlier in the year in a high-scoring finish, 61-20. The two Hoosier Heritage Conference rivals met again Friday night in the second round of Sectionals. The Sectional finish ended in favor of the Marauders, 45-8.
New Castle took the ball first, led by junior quarterback William Grieser, who is in the top 20 in the state in passing yards. The Trojans were forced to punt less than three minutes later. A blocked punt led to a Mount Vernon score by junior Rylan Cole on a 1-yard run, giving the Marauders a 7-0 lead. New Castle head coach Kyle York said the early turnovers derailed the Trojans' momentum.
“It was self-inflicted wounds,” York said. “Turning the football over, interceptions, got a punt blocked and dropped the second snap of the game. It was really that first quarter was kind of on us not taking care of the football.”
The Marauder parade continued throughout the first half. By halftime, Mount Vernon had built a 31-0 lead, and Cole had found his way to the end zone three times — twice rushing and once on a pick six.
New Castle showed signs of life, first scoring on a safety after a sack by junior Dylan Beck and again on a 17-yard touchdown pass from Grieser to senior Tytus Ragle.
A fourth touchdown by Cole ended any hopes of a comeback, as Mt. Vernon coasted to the win.
“They are such a physical football team that they were able to convert on some really long down and distances,” York said. “We weren’t able to tackle well, and at the end, they were able to wear us down.”
The Trojans' season comes to an end in the second round of Sectionals for the second time in three years under York. In just his third season, York has become the winningest coach at New Castle in the past 20 years, leading the team to its first winning season since 1985. York said he credits the outgoing seniors for changing the perception of New Castle football.
“I want them to focus on where they’ve taken our football team," York said. “To me, it’s not always about wins and losses. It's about culture. I think there is an expectation that comes with our football program now that they are responsible for.”
The Trojans will retain their entire offensive line, starting quarterback and leading tackler from this season, leading to optimism about the team going forward.
“For our team, we just need to remember what the losing feeling feels like and let it drive us and motivate us,” junior offensive lineman Landon Hutson said. “We have a lot of people coming back next year, and we can make it a great year.”
Mount Vernon advances to the Sectional 21 Championship game where it will face No.16 Pendleton Heights (7-4). This will be a rematch of an earlier contest that saw the Marauders take the win, 18-14.