Four Downs: 8/23

Tigers @ Wildcats

Teams: Jasper hosts Evansville Memorial at Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium, 7:30 p.m.

Series: Jasper leads 24-19.

Last meeting: Memorial defeated Jasper 30-7.

1. Tonight is the start of the Tony Lewis era of football in Jasper. Lewis becomes just the fifth head coach in the program’s history following the retirement of Tony Ahrens last December. Lewis steps in to help the Wildcats with 17 years of head coaching experience under his belt, and boasts an all-time win-loss record of 131-66.

2. Senior Nathan Rillo will be the starting quarterback when the Wildcats take to the field Friday night. After replacing injured starter Jacob Alhbrand, Rillo started the next eight games, and finished the season with 574 passing yards and five touchdowns.

3. The Tigers will bring in junior Colton Pence from the wideout spot to replace former four-year starter Michael Lindauer, who’s now playing ball at the University of Cincinnati. Last season, Pence had 52 receptions for 826 yards and nine endzone appearances.

4. The Wildcats have dropped the last three season openers against the Tigers, with their last win against them coming in 2015, a season in which they finished 10-2. Could the keys to a successful year lie in breaking the recent trend? Not totally, but it would certainly help.

Raiders @ Miners

Teams: Southridge will travel to Linton to take on Linton-Stockton, 7:30 p.m.

Series: Southridge leads 5-0.

Last meeting: Southridge defeated Linton 35-7.

1. Southridge will see a step up in competition this season as the Raiders move up to a 3A classification in football following two seasons of consecutive semistate appearances. This puts them in the league with some of their bigger conference rivals, such as the No. 3-ranked Gibson Southern Titans and the No. 5-ranked Heritage Hills Patriots.

2. Former dual-threat quarterback Colson Montgomery decided to step away from the football field this season, so junior Chase Taylor has been tabbed to be the Raiders’ signal caller to start the season.

3. It’s no secret that the ground game is key for Southridge’s success, as the Raiders finished with a 3:1 ratio for their rushing vs. passing attempts on offense. Seniors Cole Calvert and Brad Springer offer a bit of continuity on offense, but the team’s identity is ripe for evolution with so many players stepping into key roles.

4. Southridge has not lost an opening game since the 2007 season, where they fell to Evansville Central 14-7. That didn’t seem to slow them that season, though, as they went on to finish 10-4 with a semistate appearance.

Rangers @ Titans

Teams: Forest Park is on the road to Fort Branch to play Class 3A No. 3 Gibson Southern, 7:30 p.m.

Series: Gibson Southern leads 8-3.

Last meeting: Gibson Southern defeated Forest Park 48-0.

1. The Rangers open with the tall task of facing Titans sophomore QB Brady Allen, who went 11 of 18 for 242 yards and four touchdowns in last year’s game at Ranger Field.

2. Forest Park’s defense is wrought with players that specialize in taking their opponents to the ground. Seniors Drew Day, Gavin Knust, Garret Berg, Corbin Bell, Jake Begle and Cole Mohr all bring back starter’s experience, and each finished last season with at least 20 solo tackles.

3. The Rangers are breaking out a new offensive system that will use motion and misdirection as the Rangers depart from the old philosophy of lining up and running straight at the defense. Day led all rushers last season with 612 yards and five touchdowns.

4. Forest Park hasn’t won a season opener against Gibson Southern since the 2011 season when they defeated the Titans 21-16 under coach Terry Wagner. But there’s no time like the present to change that trend.

Patriots @ Wildcats

Teams: Class 3A No. 5 Heritage Hills will face Mt. Vernon at Mt. Vernon, 8:00 p.m.

Series: Heritage Hills leads 12-5.

Last meeting: Heritage Hills defeated Mt. Vernon 45-7.

1. Last season Heritage Hills owned the time of possession battle against Mt. Vernon (30:11 to 17:17) and beat them 30-10 in first downs gained.

2. Starting QB Cole Sigler only needed to complete five passes against the Wildcats as the Pats ball carriers averaged almost eight yards per rush in the game last season.

3. One key question the Patriots hadn’t solved going into the season was who would step up to replace Carson Leibering in the kicking game. Keep an eye out for the player that trots out for extra point opportunities during Friday’s game.

4. Heritage Hills hasn’t lost an opener in since 2013 when they fell to Evansville Mater Dei, 37-14. They finished 2-8 that year.


Herald sports editor Travis David and sports reporter Jonathan Saxon will be covering the Jasper and Southridge football games tonight. On Twitter, follow Travis at @TDavid_21 for live updates from Jasper and follow Jonathan at @TheSleepyScribe for coverage from Linton. Full stories from these games and more will be posted to late tonight and in Saturday’s Herald.

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