NEW PALESTINE, Indiana — “Luckily, we got it out of the way early.”
New Palestine (Indiana) coach Kyle Ralph knew the headlines for his team’s game against Yorktown wouldn’t center around who won and who lost — well, maybe if Yorktown sprung the upset. But the Dragons cruised to their 57th straight regular-season game win 55-19, And that meant the headlines belonged to No. 32.
Charlie Spegal was the man on everyone’s mind. Spegal entered the game needing only 13 yards to break the Indiana state career rushing yardage record after racking up 218 yards on 28 carries against Center Grove last week. It took him two carries to make history Friday.
The game was paused as the previous IHSAA record holder — Elwood’s Sammy Mireles, who set the record at 8,110 yards in 2011 — awarded Spegal the game ball. While it was a tremendous achievement and something to be proud of, there was still a football game to be played. And Spegal didn’t stop there. He bulldozed his way to four touchdowns as New Palestine romped. He finished with 184 yards to push his career mark to 8,283.
“We never really talked about the record this week,” Ralph said. “It wasn’t a focus of ours. It was more of a background joke. We joked that we would throw it to him and not let him carry it. But, he got it, we were able to move on and play the rest of the game after that.”
Inspired by Spegal’s milestone, the rest of the New Palestine (3-0) team played lights out to start the game. The Dragons scored on their first four possessions to jump out to a quick 27-0 lead in the first quarter. One of the early scores came from Spegal, who went right back to his unstoppable ways once the festivities were over. He took a dive up the middle from the 4 yard-line and sent defenders flying as he found the end zone.