Shorthanded Arabians overpower Shelbyville on gridiron


PENDLETON — Arabians football coach Jed Richman had one of his proudest moments as a coach in the Pendleton Heights 42-0 win against the visiting Shelbyville Golden Bears.
It wasn’t so much that the Arabians controlled the time of possession or put up 382 yards of total offense, or that quarterback Luke Candiano scored two rushing touchdowns or even that three sophomores made it to the end zone.
It was all of those things, and the collective effort of a team missing almost 50 players because of COVID-19 protocols.
In fact, Richman wasn’t even coaching.
He and two other coaches were also out.
“It was the most impressive thing I’ve ever seen,” Richman said. “They played their hearts out.”
Despite the score, Richman said the Golden Bears are an improving program, and they never turned the ball over once during the game.
“Our kids were resilient and their perseverance showed,” he said.
In addition to Candiano’s two rushing TDs, he connected with sophomore Caden Sims for a 21-yard pass to the end zone. Sophomores Eli Arthur and Nick Trout scored rushing touchdowns, and junior quarterback Tyce Tomey made an appearance taking the ball in for a score. Kicker Dom Apo was 6-6 with the PATs.
When the news came Oct. 14 that half of the team and coaches would not be participating in the game, the plan never wavered.
“I’m so proud of last Friday. They didn’t blink. I didn’t coach,” Richman said.
Richman is a firm believer anything in life is a lesson.
“What if?”s aren’t part of his equation.
“It’s a day-by-day thing. You trust the process and control what you can control.”
With new protocols for COVID-19, players who have negative tests will be able to practice, and the Arabians should get more players back as the week continues.
However, some decisions will have to be made game day.
“This is quite a task,” Richman said.
The Arabians are slated to face Mt. Vernon in the opening round of sectional play Oct. 22. Pendleton Heights, Mt. Vernon and the IHSAA have discussed possibly moving the game to Saturday, Oct. 23.
Regardless of the game date, the Arabians have to meet once again the Marauders team that defeated them 43-0 in September.
“We’re a different team now than we were 20-plus practices ago,” Richman said.
“In all phases, we play better, but you can’t trick Mt. Vernon. We have to play as best as we can and do it quicker and better.”
According to Richman, the Arabians have a good core of players and are developing talent, but they are missing a few starters and their normal depth.
The defense will have to contend with Marauders quarterback Gehrig Slunaker, who is averaging almost 200 yards passing a game and is at nearly 1,800 yards for the season.
Another player to watch is Marauders running back Keagan La Belle, considered one of the best in the Hoosier Heritage Conference with close to 800 yards rushing this season and 10 touchdowns.