KOKOMO, Ind. – At 8:43 p.m. on Aug. 20, Northwestern High School Athletic Director Dan Armstrong announced that, effective immediately, Austen Robison would take over as the interim head football coach of the Tigers. Robison was in his first year as an assistant coach at Northwestern before being promoted.

Robison arrived at Northwestern from River Forest High School, where he taught and coached for 10 years and served as the schools head football coach for the past three seasons. During his tenure at River Forest, the Class 2A Ingots were 13-18, including 4-6 a  year ago.

Robison currently teaches health at Northwestern and is the Tigers strength and conditioning coach/teacher. He is a graduate of Lewis Cass High School and Taylor University.

The press release made no reference to current head coach Patrick Rosner, who was in his first season as the Tigers head coach. Northwestern lost its season opener 28-14 to Eastern Hancock last Friday evening. The Sports Journal confirmed Rosner was arrested on Sunday evening during a traffic stop, although the exact charges were still unknown as of the publication deadline.

The Sports Journal will update this story as more information is released.

Sports Journal staff report

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NEW PALESTINE, Ind. – It was not the debut to which long-time assistant coach Richard Benberry was looking for as he took over the Kokomo Wildkats football team. Twenty second into the game, New Palestine was on the scoreboard – and it was downhill from there in a 77-0 final score and third consecutive opening-week loss for Kokomo.

Eyes around the state were focused on this game as it was the WHMB TV40 Game of the Week and the first-time the two programs had met on the gridiron. The Class 5A contest featured the defending state runners-up and No. 8 Kokomo on the road at the 2014 4A state champion and current 5A No. 3-ranked New Palestine – a squad that has not lost a regular season game since Oct. 12, 2012, a streak of 45 consecutive wins. In fact, sixth-year Dragon coach Kyle Ralph entered the game with a 60-4 record – all four losses were in tournament play.

But on paper, the game was about numbers – Kokomo graduated 15 starters while New Palestine returned nearly 18 starters and had a key transfer who dominated the action. That is something Benberry noted during the WIOU Coaches Show interview on Saturday morning.

“I would say our guys played hard and showed character,” he said of the way his team handled the mismatch.

In front of nearly 2,500 fans at Kelso Stadium, Delta transfer Charlie Spegal was the star of the show for the Dragons. Before the first quarter ended, the junior carried the ball 10 times for 140 yards and five touchdowns (6, 25, 8, 12, and 10 yards) to give New Pal a comfortable 42-0 lead. In the first 12 minutes, Kokomo had one first down, 13 yards on offense and punted the ball three times with an 11.3 average against the relentless New Palestine defense.

By halftime, the score was 70-0 with Spegal gaining 221-yards and a school-record seven rushing touchdowns. New Pal had 410 offensive yards in the first half (238 rushing and 172 passing) while holding Kokomo to 54. The second half was played with a running clock and Spegal on the bench.

Kokomo quarterback Levi Hrabos, a Northwestern senior transfer, led the team with 21 rushing yards and 94 passing (7-21-2). Steven Edwards caught two passes for 53 yards.

The loss marked the first time the Wildkats were shutout since a 49-0 loss to Hamilton Southeastern on Oct. 21, 2005. It was the worst defeat for Kokomo since Muncie Central downed the Kats 68-0 on Sept. 3, 2004. Kokomo (0-1) will make its Walter Cross Field debut this Friday at 7:30 p.m. against Plymouth (0-1), a Class 4A team that lost to East Noble 16-6.

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KOKOMO, Ind. – Kokomo Municipal Stadium, outfitted with a temporary 250-foot fence, played host to the inaugural Armed Forces Home Run Derby. The event featured many active duty, along with some military veterans, in an event that culminated with a walk-off derby winning swing.

Round one featured 19 hitters who represented the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines with the top eight advancing to round two. The USAF squad consisted of members of the 434th Air Refueling Wing at Grissom (home runs in parenthesis): Kokomo native Major Timothy McBee (1), Major Joel Nickelson (5), MSgt Tim Holmgren (6), first round leader TSgt Cory Beck (8) and SrA Christopher Cockle (4). The Army team included SSG Brenton Couch (0), SFC Derek Wood (3), SFC Ryan George (0) and SSG Anthony Waters (2). In the Navy squad were PO2 Quenten Easter (1), PO1 Cris Roush (4), CPO Nick Davis (2), CPO Steven Brewer (5) and Sgt Frances Freeman (1). And the Marines included Sgt Kaleb Middleton (5), GySgt Matthew Cotterman (4), SSgt William Porter (2), GySgt Nathan BoyChuck (1) and SSgt Tyler Love (0).

Round two saw CPO Brewer lead the way with seven dingers with Major Nickelson (6) and GySgt Cotterman (5) advancing to round three. The fourth spot saw Sgt Middleton edge PO1 Roush in overtime (1-0) after both hit four during the regular round.

Round three was sensational as CPO Brewer nearly had a perfect round, hitting nine of his 10 pitches for home runs. Major Nickelson and Sgt Middleton tied at six in regulation, with Nickelson earning a spot in the finals with a 4-2 overtime total; GySgt Cotterman finished fourth after hitting four dingers.

In the finals, Major Nickelson represented the Air Force well with seven home runs to lead off the round. CPO Brewer followed by hitting seven of the first nine over the fence before walking-off with the trophy by crushing his 10th pitch for the victory. Brewer took home a two-foot tall trophy; and, maybe more importantly, bragging rights for the U.S. Navy in the win.

The Sports Journal of Central Indiana was a proud sponsor of the Armed Forces Home Run Derby, along with the Shelter Insurance-LeAnn Devine Agency and Rock 98.5. Devine and Jessica Green of Z92.5 organized the fundraising event for local military organizations.

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