DANVILLE — The host Warriors had every intention of christening their new field in style Friday night, but New Palestine had other ideas.
New Pal mauled Danville’s offense and torched its defense in a 64-8 trouncing on the opening night of Hendricks Regional Health Field at Warrior Stadium.
With a rash of injuries, a handful of suspensions and transfer eligibility issues, Danville was without 15 players, many of them starters.
“It was a crazy week, but that’s no excuse for playing like we did,” Danville coach Russ Sumner said. “We still have to come out and fight, and at times I saw us laying down.”
Playing without starting quarterback Ben Jones, Danville replacement QBs Logan Knotts and Christian Schabel had 14 plays for negative yards.
Meanwhile, New Pal quarterback Blake Luker accounted for 321 yards and six total touchdowns as the Dragons’ no-huddle offense overwhelmed the Warriors
“Our kids have been hungry for this for nine months,” first-year New Pal coach Kyle Ralph said. “From the time I got here, we increased the intensity of the workouts and they really came out focused tonight.”
The first half was as thorough a beating as they come.
In the first quarter, New Pal outgained Danville 198 yards to minus-2. Luker had an 18-yard TD pass and an 8-yard scoring run, and a 2-yard score by Austin Hart gave the Dragons a 21-0 lead.
The second quarter wasn’t any better for Danville, as Lukens had TD throws of 19 and 26 yards, and an 8-yard keeper for a score to put New Pal up 41-0 at halftime.
Lukens finished the half 17 of 25 through the air for 202 yards, and added 91 yards on the ground.
New Pal had 401 yards in the opening half. Danville, with 10 of its 26 plays going for negative yards, had minus-30 rushing and 11 passing.
“We didn’t help our defense out tonight,” Sumner said. “We couldn’t sustain drives, and when your defense is out there as much as ours was, you’re in a bad spot.”
Danville opened the second half with two safeties and fumble on its first three possessions, while its defense yielded two more New Pal TDs and a field goal to up the Warriors’ deficit to 61-0 in the third quarter.
On the first play of the fourth, Autry Pickens ran up the middle for a 65-yard TD for one of the few Danville highlights on the night. Pickens finished with 18 carries for 82 yards.
After the game, Sumner’s message was a simple one, telling his team, “How you will respond to this will show a lot about your character.”