By: Sam Sherman

It was a cloudy day over Muncie Central High School. It was the Bearcats, hoping to rebound after a 2015 season ending in a (5-­5) record. Their starting quarterback, Trenton Hatfield, is listed as a “hard commit” to Illinois State. Then it was the Arabians. Coming off a (5-­7) 2015 season ending in a loss in the Sectional Championship to Delta. The obvious theme of the 2016 season for Pendleton Heights was change. With several new changes to their team, the biggest by far is new head coach Jed Richman. Richman has a long career history, from a coordinator position at Carmel to a head coaching position at both Western Boone and Lawrence Central. Other changes include a new starting quarterback, senior Bryce Riggs, two new starting wide receivers, and a new starting running­back. Both the Arabians and Bearcats were eager to get back on the field and ready for new beginnings. The Bearcats set the tone of the game right from the start with their intense introduction, the whole team running out of a cloud of smoke with Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” blaring from the stadium speakers. Muncie Central received the ball first and took complete control of the game from just the second play. On a shotgun formation, Hatfield launched the ball down the right side of the field for a nearly 60­yard touchdown pass. On the first Arabian offensive set of the season, quarterback Bryce Riggs threw an interception to Central’s Jamel Barnes. The Muncie Central Bearcats then proceeded to run the game on offense by scoring another passing touchdown and a 2­point conversion. The next Arabian drive ended in another interception thrown by Riggs, this one being taken all the way to the house and making it a 20-­0 Muncie Central lead. The second quarter began slowly for both teams. Eventually, Muncie Central found another way to score on the Pendleton Heights defense. Then came hope for the Arabians when sophomore Tristen Spinks returned a kickoff to the Bearcat 30 yard line. However, the Arabian offense failed to make any progress out of the drive. The Arabians then intercepted Central’s Trent Hatfield, but Muncie Central again stopped the Arabian offense. The Bearcats drove down the field to score again. Muncie Central went into halftime with a 34-­0 lead over Pendleton Heights. The third quarter was slow for both teams, the only highlight being Muncie Central scoring another touchdown on the Arabians. The Bearcat receiver leaped over three Arabian defenders to catch the touchdown in the back corner of the endzone, putting Muncie Central at a 41-­0 lead. In the fourth quarter, the realization that Muncie Central had locked the game down set in for them. Their offense and defense both let up on Pendleton Heights, allowing the Arabians to drive the field twice and put 14 points on the board. Muncie Central won the game with a final score of 41-­14. The Arabians avoided a shutout, but the loss was definitely the last thing they had in mind. Coach Richman said after the game that Muncie Central was “easily the better team on game night.” This was abundantly clear. Starting with quarterback Trent Hatfield, the Muncie Central squad picked apart the Arabian defense. Their quickness and power seemed to be a bit much for Pendleton’s coverage. However, their interception of Hatfield shows their zone coverage definitely has potential. The Arabian offensive situation looks set for the season. A strong running game combined with good receivers shows that Pendleton’s skill is there, but that they just need to pack a real punch on their drives and play with toughness. This game will be remembered simply as a hiccup early in a season of change. Adjustments will be made, and we should all expect the Arabians to come out fired up in their home opener against the Anderson Indians next week.