Four Downs: 11/14

Wildcats @ Olympians

Teams: Class 4A No. 6 Jasper (11-1) at Class 4A No. 1 Columbus East (12-0), 8 p.m. Friday, Stafford Field
Series: The Olympians won the only prior meeting, 24-7 in the 2008 regional.

1. Courtland Betz (Sr., DB) grabbed his second interception in as many weeks last Friday, giving him three postseason picks over the last two years. With Jasper and Southridge dismissing Evansville powers Reitz and Mater Dei last Friday, the Dubois County schools helped ensure that the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference was shut out from sectional titles for the first time since 2002. This marks the fourth occasion that Dubois County teams have claimed multiple sectional titles in a season; the Cats and Raiders also doubled up on sectional crowns in 1982, 2002 and ’08.

Jasper’s loss in the 2008 regional ended a string of 11 victories in the Cats’ first 11 regional appearances. Jasper is 5-0 all-time in regional games on the road. Two of those have been one-point escapes: 18-17 in triple overtime at Zionsville in 2001, and 7-6 at Indianapolis Roncalli in 1976.

Columbus East’s closest games this season have been a 48-20 handling of Class 6A foe New Albany and a 49-21 drubbing of Class 5A sectional champ Bloomington North. The Olympians score 53.2 ppg and beat opponents by a margin of 41.4 ppg; only Eastern Hancock (59.8 ppg, 44.3 winning margin) outranks Columbus East statewide in both categories.

4. While Columbus East relied on a passing barrage in 2008 against Jasper — the Olympians featured Dusty Kiel, who played QB at Indiana University, and Duwyce Wilson, still a receiver at IU — they average just eight passes per game this season. Markell Jones (Jr., RB) leads an offense that nets nearly 325 rushing yards per game. Jones is 54 yards away from 2,000 on the season. He ran for five TDs against Bloomington North and six at Madison, and scored multiple TDs in all but one game this year.


Raiders @ Rams

Teams: Class 2A No. 6 Southridge (10-2) at Paoli (10-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday, Cook Field
Series: The Raiders lead 9-2.
Last meeting: Southridge clocked Paoli 57-0 in the 2004 regular-season opener.

1. Friday will be Southridge’s seventh appearance in the regional, and the Raiders have played away from home just once before in the regional, edging Providence 35-28 in 2007. Southridge has won four of the five all-time meetings with the Rams at Cook Field, the last coming in 2003, a year before the regular-season series ended between the teams.

2. Southridge has had 11 head coaches in program history, and Scott Buening is the fifth one (and first since Brett DeVault in 1984) to have a winning campaign in his first season. Buening also has the most wins by any first-year Raider coach, eclipsing the eight victories of Bob Hawkins in 1981.

3. Paoli trailed 14-0 in last week’s sectional final but didn’t allow eighth-ranked Triton Central a point over the final three quarters. Brett Balsmeyer (Jr., QB) engineered Paoli’s rally with three touchdown passes, hitting Tanner Wroblewski (Sr., WR) for strikes of 23 and 34 yards before locating Evan Jones (Sr., WR) for the tiebreaking score in the third quarter. Balsmeyer was 23-of-34 for 253 yards Friday and has passed for 1,851 yards and 28 TDs on the season. Wroblewski (56 receptions, 1,297 yards, 21 TDs) is Balsmeyer’s top target, while the threats in a balanced backfield are junior fullback Luke Becht (688 yards, six TDs), Balsmeyer (610 yards, nine TDs) and senior running backs Tanner Kameda (603 yards, seven TDs) and Garrett Strange (416 yards, six TDs).

4. Since losing to Evansville Central (55-36) and Perry Central (24-21) in the first half of the season, the Rams have won eight straight games. Paoli ranks third statewide among Class 2A programs in scoring (39.7 ppg), and the Rams have posted at least 21 points in every contest this season. Paoli is in the midst of its seventh straight winning season after going 11-59 over the seven years prior to that.

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