INDIANAPOLIS -- An incredible ride and season came to an end in a record setting game Friday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium for the New Prairie Cougars who lost to New Palestine 77-42 in the highest score game ever in an Indiana High School Football State Final game.
The Cougars could not contain the Dragons, who scored the most points of any team ever in the state finals. Their 77 points shattered the old record of 63 set by Jimtown in 1997.
"I mean it's tough," New Prairie Senior Linebacker Dan Cinal said after the game. "It sucks. I mean, it's rough."
New Palestine's James Young totaled a Class 4A-record 282 rushing yards and two touchdowns in 17 attempts. In New Palestine's fast and furious start, Young bolted to a 98-yard touchdown run, setting a record for all classes in championship game play. Quarterback Alex Neligh ran for 178 yards and three touchdowns in 14 attempts.
Neligh also passed for 211 yards and five touchdowns, breaking the 4A pass-scoring mark and tying it for all classes. Duke Blackwell caught five passes for 130 yards and three scores. The Dragons totaled 462 yards against New Prairie, breaking that mark for all classes.
Coach Kyle Ralph's Dragons, ranked second in the Associated Press poll, finished 15-0 in winning their first football championship. Their record the last two seasons is 28-1.
Coach Russ Radtke's Cougars, ranked eighth in the AP poll, completed their season at 13-2. Radtke became the first coach to lead three different schools to a football state title game. He also coached North Judson-San Pierre and Griffith to the final game.
Radtke was very proud of his 11 seniors who turned around a program that won just three games their freshmen season to reach the state finals in their final year.
"To strive for what they've been able to accomplish this season is kind of strange that you can get that done and we're proud of them," Ratke said. "I can't ask more of them, they put everything out there on the line for every play."
New Prairie's Tyler Weller rushed for 179 yards and four touchdowns on 27 attempts. He tied a single game state championship record with those four scores.
"Once you get past the losing part you look back and you're like okay, we did alright, we did a pretty good job getting down here," Weller said looking back at the accomplishments of the season.
"It's been great, proud of this season, just really glad we got down here," added senior David Walbring, who was named the Mental Attitude Award winner.
New Prairie had a great crowd in attendance who was very proud of their team for not allowing making it to the state finals but never given up in a game where the Cougars fell behind by big numbers very quickly.
"Even though this other team is extremely good, [we] just kept battling," New Prairie Principal Greg Dettinger said. "they did not quit, they're not laying down, they're not stopping, not giving up, it's just total heart, they're just incredible young men."
New Prairie will celebrate an historic season from those incredible young men Sunday at 7:30 EST at the high school.