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'Our team is back': Yorktown, New Castle football encouraged after another memorable matchup

By Gus Martin, Muncie Star Press,


YORKTOWN, Ind. — Mike Wilhelm was reminded of a similar situation two years earlier, when New Castle football had the final possession with a chance to win the game.

In 2021, the visiting Trojans came up clutch and prevailed 28-21. It was the first of now three consecutive close Week 5 games between the programs, with Friday's latest chapter marking the 10th annual meeting.

The stage was set for another nail-biting drive, one both sides wanted to win desperately in order to end their respective losing streaks. Yorktown also didn't want to spoil its homecoming festivities, which garnered a capacity crowd.

But this time, the Tigers (3-2) prevailed 34-28, thwarting a last-second New Castle (1-4) heave to the end zone. It was both a celebration and sigh of relief for Yorktown, as well as another disappointing but encouraging outing for the struggling Trojans.

The teams are now 5-5 in their matchups since 2014.

"We actually (had) one of the best weeks of practices we've had this year, and we had to because last week's Delta week — worst practices we've had in a couple years, and it showed in that game," Wilhelm said. "The seniors and the juniors responded with a great week, and that's what we needed because there's no doubt we hit a little dip.

"It's going to take some time for us to crawl out and get back to being that team that played against Anderson and played against Muncie Central, just a team flying around, a team having fun. We didn't have fun last week."

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Wilhelm cited a lack of inter-squad support as a reason for Yorktown's diminished enthusiasm. Whereas they were excited and complimentary of one another to start the season, he said they stopped doing the little things to build morale and might've let the pressure of wanting another championship season get to them.

Senior running back Ayden Ewing felt that shift, too, and knew that the Tigers needed a feel-good victory quickly to stop the downturn before it spiraled.

"Just not having fun. We were letting too many things get to us," Ewing said. "So now we're just rolling with the punches and just gonna keep playing no matter what."

He put the team on his back to do so, rushing 16 times for a career-high 205 yards and two touchdowns on a night when typically-prolific senior quarterback Mason Moulton (5-for-13, 104 yards) and his receivers weren't quite clicking.

"I just refused to go down. I had to get those runs. I had to make a play," Ewing said. "Playmakers make plays, so that was one thing going through my mind."

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His performance also served as a personal bounce-back effort after Yorktown totaled just 22 rushing yards in its 22-13 loss at rival Delta the previous week.

The Tigers are most effective when they balance their ground and air attacks, and Wilhelm said getting back to that formula was an emphasis during practices.

"That's what Yorktown needs to do," Wilhelm said. "We need to run the ball so we can pass the ball and we need to pass the ball so we can run the ball."

For New Castle, 2023 thus far has been the program's third consecutive rough campaign in the win-loss column.

After a season-opening 26-21 victory over Franklin County, the Trojans entered Friday night having been outscored 112-21 over their following three contests. So while another defeat continued that frustration, maintaining its competitive spirit, especially after trailing 20-6 in the first quarter, was a positive sign to head coach Kyle York.

"We've just struggled to find consistency. We'll play well at times on different sides of the ball, but we've not been able to put it together and had a complete game offense and defense," York said. "Today was probably our most complete game and just came up a little short. I'm proud of my guys, thought they fought hard."

York is also encouraged by the play of his youngsters. Junior running back Caleb Clapp (12 carries, 91 yards) was a force, and sophomore Cade Logston ignited the offense in the first half with a kickoff return TD.

Senior quarterback Tyson Lewis was effective as well, notching 262 total yards and three scores.

Sophomore Tylin Thrine, though, put on a show, tallying five catches for 88 yards and two TD's, rushing four times for 41 yards and tying for the team lead with nine total tackles.

"He's a relentless competitor. He never gives up. He never stops thinking about ways to win," York said. "Led our team and film watching this week. Obviously, stuff like that shows how much it means and how much it matters (to him). Just so thankful he's on my side and I'm glad he's a young kid, too, because we've got a lot to build off there."

Both sides left the field with respect for the other. It was the latest in what's developed into an always interesting matchup, regardless of records coming in.

They also each hope they can build on the positives moving forward. There's plenty of season left.

"Energy's back. Our team is back," Wilhelm said. "It's gonna take a week or two before we get back to that team. Probably lost some confidence in the process, but it's a long season. And for us to come out with a win tonight is big. It's huge for us to, as we say, 'Get back on the train tracks.'"

Gus Martin is a sports reporter at The Star Press. Follow him on X (platform formerly known as Twitter) @GusMartin_SP , and contact him at .

This article originally appeared on Muncie Star Press: 'Our team is back': Yorktown, New Castle football encouraged after another memorable matchup

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