Dragons vs. Marauders: It's Boundary Rail time
October 9, 2012By Andrew Smith of Hancock County Sports
One of our favorite weeks of the year is this week -- Mt. Vernon vs. New Palestine. Both schools began playing football in 1968, and they ended up on each other's schedule with a game for the ages. MV ended up winning 27-24, but the lead changed hands three times in the final 2:15, with the Marauders finally winning on a pass from MV's Gary Newman to Jim Howard with eight seconds left, shortly after NP took the lead with 1:13 left when Dennis Haynes ran for a 16-yard TD.
It was a memorable start to what has become a memorable rivalry. Games, like that one, have been talked about in their communities for years. A win over the other team can make one's season. A loss can sit for a year -- or more. More than bragging rights are at statkie. Upsets and close games and big comebacks were the norm, rather than the exception. In 1968, the two schools were tiny and just starting football. Now, they're solidly both 4A schools. They were in different conferences then, they've both been in the HHC now for 19 seasons. But they've always stayed pretty close to each other in enrollment and competitiveness, and that's shown on the field.
This Friday night's game will be the 49th meeting between Mt. Vernon and New Palestine. Next week, they'll meet again for the 50th time.
Several years ago, the thought came into several peoples' minds -- "why doesn't this game have a traveling trophy?" Those thoughts coalesced on The Gridiron Digest, and the Boundary Rail was born. The rail is a small piece of the interurban track that once ran along U.S. 40 -- the rough boundary between the MV and NP school districts. It was donated by former Marauder Josh Short, who took the old piece of metal, sanded it down and painted it -- half black for MV, half red for NP. The rail is about 15 inches long, but it weighs a ton, and its meaning is great.
The Rail was presented to the Dragons after their 20-0 victory at Mt. Vernon Stadium in 2005. NP has retained the trophy in the three meetings since. A neat tradition has emerged, as the Rail has been placed at midfield during warmups, and then is kept on the sideline of the team in possession during the game.
In addition to the 1968 game, there have been many other great games during the years. Among them (in chronological order):
1970: New Palestine 8, Mt. Vernon 8. The only tie in series history. Tim Leonard scored for New Palestine.
1982: Mt. Vernon 12-6, OT. One of two OT games in series history. Keith Neylon scored the game-winning TD for the Marauders.
1983: New Palestine 27-24. Brad Ehle's 54-yard reception late in the game set up Tom Tucker's game-winning field goal with three seconds left. With it, New Palestine took the cluster championship (which carried with it tourney qualification).
1984: New Palestine 8-6. Gary Greene threw a late TD pass to tie the game, but the snap on the PAT went awry. Greene picked up the loose ball and ran it in for the winning conversion, clinching another cluster title and tournament spot.
1986: Mt. Vernon 6-0. One of three games in the series' history where only one touchdown was scored (the other were 7-0 New Palestine wins in 2006 and 2010). Mike Hanes scored on a 4-yard run in the first quarter for the only points of the night.
1990: Mt. Vernon 21-20. Probably the most talked-about game in the history of this series. Played in the Hoosier Dome, MV's Reggie Johnson caps an 88-yard drive with a late TD pass to Mark Barnett, and then the Marauders run a halfback pass on the 2-point conversion to seal the win. It was the only regular-season defeat for the Dragons, who would go on to the State Finals. However, in the sectional, MV took an early 7-0 lead -- it was the first TD given up by the Dragons in more than a month. NP rallied and won 19-7 and went on to be the 3A runner-up.
2003: Mt. Vernon 38-6: The first game in this rivalry played in the new Mt. Vernon Stadium, and one in which the Marauders dominated to clinch the Hoosier Heritage Conference championship outright. MV's defensive front suffocated the Dragons' usually-strong power toss running game and MV went unbeaten through the HHC.
2004 sectional: New Palestine 20-6: One of the more controversial games between the two teams. Mt. Vernon led this one 6-0 going into the fourth quarter and had the Dragons stopped on fourth down. But a late hit call on the play gave NP an automatic first down and new life. Greg Davis scored shortly thereafter, and the Dragons added two more TDs in the fourth quarter to seal the win.
2006: NP 21-20, OT (regular season); MV 17-14 (sectional final): Two great games between two very evenly-matched teams. NP won the HHC title with the regular-season victory, going for 2 in overtime and quarterback J.D. Hill barely getting in. The Dragons led 14-0 in the sectional, but the Marauders rallied with three second-half scores and some big special-teams play.
2009: New Palestine 28-14. Mt. Vernon led early 14-0, but New Palestine found Austin Cahoy. The Dragons changed their plan of attack, lined up in a power formation and started feeding Cahoy in the third quarter. He ended up with 98 rushing yards and two TDs, and would become the focal point of the Dragons' offense the following year.
2011: New Palestine 27-0. A night that began with a tremendous display of sportsmanship ended with a pretty solid effort from the Dragons, who clinched the HHC title, the fourth unbeaten regular season in school history and the No. 1 ranking in Class 4A for the season with the win. NP recovered a pooch kick on the opening kickoff and scored on the first play -- a 22-yard TD pass from Connor Simmons to Josh Penley. Simmons threw for two TDs and Matt Siergiej ran for two, and Penley blocked a punt, scored a TD, had an interception and stopped a fake punt.
The New Palestine-Mt. Vernon series
All-time: New Palestine 27, Mt. Vernon 20, 1 tie
Regular-season: New Palestine 24, Mt. Vernon 19, 1 tie
Postseason: New Palestine 3, Mt. Vernon 1
At New Palestine: New Palestine 14, Mt. Vernon 9, 1 tie
At Mt. Vernon: New Palestine 13, Mt. Vernon 10
At neutral sites: Mt. Vernon 1, New Palestine 0
Oct. 14, 2011: NP 27-0 (at MV)
Oct 15, 2010: NP 7-0 (at NP)
Oct. 16, 2009: NP 28-14 (at MV)
Oct. 17, 2008: NP 21-7 (at NP)
Oct. 12, 2007: NP 20-13 (at MV)
Nov. 3, 2006: MV 17-14 (at NP, sectional final)
Oct. 13, 2006: NP 21-20, OT (at NP)
Nov. 4, 2005: NP 31-14 (at MV, sectional final)
Oct. 14, 2005: NP 20-0 (at MV) First Boundary Rail game
Oct. 22, 2004: NP 20-6 (at NP, sectional 1st round)
Oct. 15, 2004: NP 21-10 (at NP)
Oct. 17, 2003: MV 38-6 (at MV)
Oct. 18, 2002: NP 12-7 (at NP)
Oct. 12, 2001: MV 23-0 (at NP)
Oct. 13, 2000: MV 42-7 (at NP)
Oct. 15, 1999: MV 36-28 (at MV)
Oct. 16, 1998: MV 38-21 (at NP)
Oct. 17, 1997: MV 48-21 (at MV)
Sept. 20, 1996: NP 7-0 (at MV)
Sept. 22, 1995: NP 36-22 (at NP)
Sept. 23, 1994: MV 10-0 (at MV)
Sept. 24, 1993: NP 61-13 (at MV)
Sept. 25, 1992: NP 48-19 (at NP)
Sept. 27, 1991: MV 15-7 (at MV)
Oct. 19, 1990: NP 19-7 (at NP, sectional 1st round)
Aug. 31, 1990: MV 21-20 (at Hoosier Dome)
Sept. 1, 1989: NP 40-6 (at NP)
Sept. 2, 1988: NP 34-13 (at MV)
Sept. 4, 1987: NP 24-8 (at NP)
Sept. 5, 1986: MV 6-0 (at MV)
Sept. 6, 1985: MV 12-6 (at NP)
Oct. 12, 1984: NP 8-6 (at MV)
Oct. 14, 1983: NP 27-24 (at NP)
Sept. 24, 1982: MV 12-6, OT (at NP)
Sept. 25, 1981: MV 17-6 (at MV)
Sept. 19, 1980: MV 19-14 (at NP)
Sept. 21, 1979: MV 20-0 (at MV)
Sept. 22, 1978: NP 20-14 (at NP)
Oct. 21, 1977: NP 34-13 (at MV)
Oct. 22, 1976: NP 36-18 (at NP)
Oct. 24, 1975: NP 20-12 (at MV)
Oct. 25, 1974: MV 14-3 (at NP)
Oct. 26, 1973: NP 44-0 (at MV)
Oct. 20, 1972: MV 12-6 (at NP)
Oct. 22, 1971: MV 22-7 (at MV)
Oct. 21, 1970: T 8-8 (at NP)
Oct. 22, 1969: NP 22-14 (at MV)
Oct. 23, 1968: MV 27-24 (at NP)
Winningest coaches: Marvin Shepler, New Palestine 1968-2001. (16 wins); Doug Armstrong, New Palestine 2002-08, Mt. Vernon 2011-present (8 wins); Doug Peacock, Mt. Vernon 1994-2010 (8 wins).
Longest New Palestine streak: 5 games (2007-11; 2004-06). Regular season: 8 games (2004-11)
Longest Mt. Vernon streak: 5 games (1997-2001).
Biggest victory margin: New Palestine 61, Mt. Vernon 13 (1993). Mt. Vernon 38, New Palestine 6 (2003)
Overtime games: 1982 (MV 12-6); 2006 (NP 21-20). The 1970 game ended in an 8-8 tie prior to the introduction of overtime in high school football.
Shutouts: New Palestine 5 (2011, 2010, 2005, 1996, 1973), Mt. Vernon 4 (2001, 1994, 1986, 1979).