PENDLETON — John Broughton knew this day was coming sooner or later.
He would have preferred later.
But if the Pendleton Heights football coach has learned anything in his 38 years on the sideline, it’s that you can’t always get what you want. And there’s no use complaining about it.
The Arabians (4-5) received one of the toughest sectional draws in the state and will host Class 4A No. 2 New Palestine (9-0) in the first round Friday night.
“The only thing I can tell you is to win that sectional you’re going to have to beat the No. 2 team in the state at some point,” Broughton said. “We’ve just gotta play ‘em right off the bat.”
Pendleton Heights has been down this road before, losing 46-7 at New Palestine on Sept. 6.
The Dragons have earned all the frightening comparisons their nickname inspires. They average 42.4 points per game and allow 6.9. The 20-0 victory against rival Mount Vernon last week that clinched the Hoosier Heritage Conference championship was their tightest contest of the season.
New Palestine’s other “close” games include a 35-14 win at Yorktown and a 35-10 decision against Whiteland. The Dragons have scored at least 41 points in every other contest and haven’t allowed more than 14 all season.
In Blake Luker, New Palestine has a duel-threat quarterback who is as dangerous with his arm as he is with his legs. Luker completed 22 of 29 pass attempts for 334 yards and four touchdowns and ran 12 times for 70 yards and another score in the first meeting against Pendleton Heights.
Wide receiver Tyler Walden caught 14 of those passes for a school-record 212 yards and two scores against the Arabians.
For the season, Luker has completed 72 percent of his throws for 1,854 yards and 23 touchdowns. He’s also the Dragons’ leading rusher with 814 yards and 15 scores on 103 carries. Walden has 59 catches for 874 yards and nine touchdowns.