Full 2022 East Central Indiana high school football schedule, big games to watch

·10 min read

MUNCIE, Ind. — Less than three weeks away from starting the 2022 Indiana high school football season, teams enter practices with excitement and a clean slate.

East Central Indiana teams had mixed success in 2021, with Delta and Monroe Central, which went 9-0 in the regular season, being the lone squads to win a postseason game before falling in their sectional semifinals.

There are also two new head coaches joining the area: Muncie Central's Kyle Padgett, who's coming off an undefeated regular season at Centerville, and first-time head coach Matt Nuckols for Wes-Del. Both look to turn around struggling programs.

But the beauty of the preseason is that there's optimism everywhere, so here's a complete look at the East Central Indiana high school football schedule with a game or two to watch for each week:

Week 1: Aug. 19

Schedule: Winchester at Monroe Central, 7:30 p.m.; Shenandoah at Elwood, 7 p.m.; Jay County at Blackford, 7 p.m.; Clinton Prarie at Wes-Del, 7 p.m.; Delta at Muncie Central, 7:30 p.m.; New Castle at Franklin County, 7 p.m.; Yorktown at Anderson, 7 p.m.

Game to watch: Delta at Muncie Central. The Eagles and Bearcats have opened the season against each other three of the last four years with Delta dominating each time, so this matchup is less about the winner and more about how each team looks to start its schedule. Delta's senior quarterback Palmer Samuels returns "100% healthy," according to head coach Chris Overholt, after missing all of the 2021 season with a knee injury, and his performance will be key in the Eagles' postseason aspirations. For the Bearcats, how will the squad debut now under Padgett's leadership? Additionally, can the team adjust to losing all-time leading rusher and current Ball State running back Shoka Griffin? It's just one week, but this should be an illuminating outing for both sides.

Game to watch: Jay County at Blackford. These two schools last year restarted their streak of playing each other early every season, but the 2021 matchup wasn't competitive as the Patriots dominated 33-6. Jay County's running back Quinn Faulkner ran for 185 yards and three touchdowns that game, but he and the Patriots' quarterback graduated last spring. Although the Bruins have lost this matchup 11 consecutive times and last won in 2008, Faulkner's absence should make this a closer contest.

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Week 2: Aug. 26

Schedule: Winchester at Knightstown, 7 p.m.; Heritage Christian at Shenandoah, 7 p.m.; Huntington North at Jay County, 7 p.m.; Wes-Del at Tri-Central, 7 p.m.; Columbia City at Delta, 7:30 p.m.; Muncie Central at Yorktown, 7:30 p.m.; Monroe Central at Union City, 7 p.m.; Blackford at Fremont, 7 p.m.; Triton Central at New Castle, 7 p.m.

Game to watch: Wes-Del at Tri-Central. Similarly to Muncie Central, it'll be interesting to see how Wes-Del begins its season under the new leadership of Nuckols and without its star player, in this case last year's quarterback and leading rusher Evan Whitesell. The Warriors endured an 0-8 2021 season, which included a 50-26 loss to Tri-Central after twice playing them close in 2020, so this contest should be a good measuring stick for where the program is at initially.

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Week 3: Sept. 2

Schedule: Northeastern at Winchester, 7 p.m.; Lapel at Shenandoah, 7 p.m.; Southern Wells at Jay County, 7 p.m.; Wes-Del at Eastern Hancock, 7 p.m.; Shelbyville at Delta, 7:30 p.m.; Muncie Central at McCutcheon, 7 p.m.; North Decatur at Monroe Central, 7:30 p.m.; Blackford at Alexandria, 7 p.m.; Pendleton Heights at New Castle, 7 p.m.; New Palestine at Yorktown, 7:30 p.m.

Game to watch: Lapel at Shenandoah. This has been an annual matchup for decades, and the Raiders are 21-9 in the teams' last 30 meetings. Yet Shenandoah has lost the last two meetings, with 2021's 40-21 defeat being the worst since 2007. The Raiders should enter this contest motivated to right the ship after returning most of their top players.

Game to watch: North Decatur at Monroe Central. In these teams' first-ever Mid-Eastern Conference matchup last season, the Golden Bears edged the Chargers 19-18 in what ended up being the closest game of Monroe Central's undefeated 2021 regular season. Although the Golden Bears are the hosts this year, they'll be without four of their five All-State players from last season. This will be a good test for Monroe Central's new core, especially senior Luke Jones, who moves to quarterback after an All-State season at wide receiver.

Week 4: Sept. 9

Schedule: Winchester at Centerville, 7 p.m.; Shenandoah at North Decatur, 7 p.m.; Jay County at Adams Central, 7 p.m.; Tri at Wes-Del, 7 p.m.; Delta at Yorktown, 7 p.m.; Kokomo at Muncie Central, 7 p.m.; Madison-Grant at Blackford, 7 p.m.; New Castle at Shelbyville, 7 p.m.

Game to watch: Delta at Yorktown, as always. The Eagles won this cross-town rivalry matchup six straight times before the Tigers' 28-27 comeback victory in overtime last season, so this year's rematch should have some extra intensity to it. The atmosphere when Delta and Yorktown play is always lively, and Sept. 9 should be no different. Overall, the Eagles hold a 20-10 advantage in these programs' last 30 meetings.

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Week 5: Sept. 16

Schedule: Union County at Winchester, 7 p.m.; Wes-Del at Shenandoah, 7 p.m.; Jay County at Bluffton, 7 p.m.; Mt. Vernon at Delta, 7:30 p.m.; Lafayette Jefferson at Muncie Central, 7 p.m.; Monroe Central at South Adams, 7 p.m.; Elwood at Blackford, 7 p.m.; Yorktown at New Castle, 7 p.m.

Game to watch: Monroe Central at South Adams. The Golden Bears have been eliminated in the postseason by South Adams for the last three years, with 2021 being the most heartbreaking when, after Monroe Central won 23-0 in the regular season, a mud-riddled contest cost John Hochstetler's boys a shot at a sectional title. Both squads graduated key pieces, but don't think the players aren't anxiously awaiting this meeting.

Game to watch: Yorktown at New Castle. The Trojans hold a 5-3 advantage overall in this series, winning the most recent meeting 28-21. These games are almost always close and seem to bring out the best in each unit. Both squads also return most of their key contributors, so it'll be interesting to see if another year of experience and training changes the outcome, particularly for the now-junior quarterback matchup.

Week 6: Sept. 23

Schedule: Tri at Winchester, 7 p.m.; Shenandoah at Hagerstown, 7 p.m.; Woodlan at Jay County, 7:30 p.m.; Monroe Central at Wes-Del, 7 p.m.; Delta at New Castle, 7 p.m.; Muncie Central at Richmond, 7 p.m.; Blackford at Eastbrook, 7 p.m.; Shelbyville at Yorktown, 7:30 p.m.

Game to watch: Tri at Winchester. While the Golden Falcons have historically dominated this matchup, these squads have split their last six meetings. Winchester lost last year 35-34 in overtime, perhaps each team's most memorable game of the season, so the players are likely looking forward to the rematch. Both sides also graduated key pieces, which should make for a compelling contest once again.

Game to watch: Muncie Central at Richmond. More often than not, these two teams have played competitive contests over the past 20-plus years. Their last four meetings have been decided by one possession, with the Bearcats going 3-1, but both programs are now led by new head coaches. Will dominance lean more significantly to one side, or will the closely-fought trend continue?

Week 7: Sept. 30

Schedule: Winchester at Hagerstown, 7 p.m.; Northeastern at Shenandoah, 7 p.m.; South Adams at Jay County, 7 p.m.; Indianapolis Tindley at Wes-Del, 7:30 p.m.; Pendleton Heights at Delta, 7:30 p.m.; Marian at Muncie Central, 7 p.m.; Eastern Hancock at Monroe Central, 7:30 p.m.; Blackford at Mississewa, 7 p.m.; New Castle at Mt. Vernon, 7 p.m.; Yorktown at Greenfield-Central, 7:30 p.m.

Game to watch: Winchester at Hagerstown. Oddly, in these team's last 12 meetings, the squads have flipped going on three-game winning streaks against each other. Winchester has enjoyed the latest victory trifecta and most recently won 40-24, but history is not on the Golden Falcons' side. It'll be curious if the Tigers can secure a victory and keep the trend alive.

Game to watch: Northeastern at Shenandoah. Although the Raiders are 8-0 historically in this matchup, Northeastern is an up-and-coming team and poised for another solid season. Last year's contest, 35-28, was the closest game in this series since 1996. 2022 should be just as entertaining, if not more.

Week 8: Oct. 7

Schedule: Shenandoah at Eastern Hancock, 7 p.m.; Lapel at Jay County, 7 p.m.; Wes-Del at Union County, 7 p.m.; Greenfield-Central at Delta, 7:30 p.m.; Anderson at Muncie Central, 7 p.m.; Monroe Central at Traders Point Christian, 7 p.m.; Oak Hill at Blackford, 7 p.m.; New Palestine at New Castle, 7 p.m.; Yorktown at Pendleton Heights, 7:30 p.m.

Game to watch: Yorktown at Pendleton Heights. The Tigers won this matchup 14-10 in 2021, but these two teams have gone back and forth in their last four meetings and generally played close contests in recent years. This matchup even featured a 78-49 Yorktown victory in 2013, something you don't see every Friday night. Although it'll be difficult for a local team to win the Hoosier Heritage Conference with the way Mt. Vernon and New Palestine have played in recent seasons, this game should be a good test for the Tigers as the postseason approaches. Yorktown lost its sectional first round game 6-0 in double overtime, so the Tigers will hope to be playing their best football come October.

Game to watch: Greenfield-Central at Delta. The Eagles lost 28-14 in this matchup last season, ending their 28-0 streak against the Cougars. Delta will surely look to right the ship in this year's meeting, but Greenfield-Central does return two strong running backs, so it won't come easy. This should be a good late-season contest to start preparing for the postseason.

Week 9: Oct. 14

Schedule: Union City at Winchester, 7 p.m.; Shenandoah at Monroe Central, 7:30 p.m.; Jay County at Heritage, 7 p.m.; Wes-Del at North Decatur, 7 p.m.; Delta at New Palestine, 7:30 p.m.; Muncie Central at Indianapolis Arsenal Tech, 7 p.m.; Blackford at Frankton, 7 p.m.; New Castle at Greenfield-Central, 7 p.m.; Mt. Vernon at Yorktown, 7:30 p.m.

Game to watch: Shenandoah at Monroe Central. Eastern Hancock should be in contention for the MEC crown, but the victor also could be determined in the final week of the season. The Raiders, who finished in third place in 2021, have many returning players at key positions, while the Royals and Golden Bears graduated several key contributors. If the conference comes down to this contest, it'll certainly be a thrilling event to watch.

Game to watch: New Castle at Greenfield-Central. These teams had the unusual circumstance of playing each other in back-to-back weeks last year. The Trojans fell 27-26 at home to end the regular season, only to get blown out 43-0 in the rematch during sectional play. That loss certainly stuck with New Castle, so this regular season finale should featured some added motivation.

Gus Martin is a sports reporter at The Star Press. Follow him on Twitter @GusMartin_SP, and contact him at gmartin@gannett.com.

This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: IHSAA football: Full 2022 ECI high school schedule, big games to watch

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