Four Downs: Locals hope to keep wins going

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Jasper, along with the other three local schools, will hope to keep the winning ways going this week.

By Herald Staff

Here is a look at the games featuring our teams this week.

Wildcats at Wildcats

Teams: Jasper (4-0, 4-0) at Evansville Mater Dei (3-1, 3-1), Reitz Bowl, 7:30 p.m.

Last Meeting: Jasper won, 28-14, Sept. 18, 2020.

1. Jasper won big, 56-14, Sept. 10 at Evansville Bosse, but didn’t get off to the greatest start. Bulldogs junior Jaiden Thomas had a 68-yard rushing touchdown at the 11:44 point of the first quarter to make it 6-0. Coach Tony Lewis knows they’ve had slow starts, and said they have to have a sense of urgency and play ready to play at 7:30.

2. Junior Grant Young played quarterback against Bosse. Senior Will Weinzapfel is dealing with an injury. Young was 2-of-6 passing for 38 yards, and had 66 rushing yards and a touchdown. Lewis thought Young had nerves, but worked through them. He said Young, like Weinzapfel, is smart, cerebral, does what he’s supposed to do and what he’s told.

3. Jasper will have to account for some key juniors on Mater Dei’s offense. Dual-threat running back Joey Pierre can make an impact running or catching the ball. They also must account for quarterback Mason Wunderlich, who took over during last year, and helped them to a regional championship.

4. “We’ve got to get pressure,” Lewis said. “Whether it’s stunting with our defensive linemen, whether it’s blitzing our linebackers, we’ve got to be able to get our hands on their receivers and disrupt some of their routes. That will be key in allowing our defensive line and linebackers to get there.”

Raiders at Titans

Teams: Southridge (2-2) at Gibson Southern (3-1), 7:30 p.m.

Series: Southridge leads, 22-14

Last Meeting: Southridge won, 30-27, Oct. 30, 2020.

1. Southridge knows what it’s getting into Friday at Class 3A-No. 4 Gibson Southern. Raiders coach Scott Buening knows the Titans are one of the best teams south of Indianapolis, but he noted that it really is the same approach every week of how well Southridge can play on Friday. This includes applying what it learned in the 40-28 loss Sept. 3 at North Posey.

2. In that loss, the Raiders had a hard time with their pass defense and pass rush, as senior quarterback Harold Bender was 20-of-21 passing on the night. Buening noted Southridge hadn’t been tested in that area prior to the game against the Vikings. Making the Titans go at quarterback is senior Brady Allen, who is set to continue his career at Purdue University.

3. Allen is surrounded with many different options on the offensive end. He can throw to fellow senior Rory Heltsley, who also has gotten some attention at the NCAA Division I level, but the ground game features different options in sophomore Sean DeLong and junior Devan Roberts. He told of the Titans’ zone-oriented run game, which differs from Southridge’s other opponents.

4. “If you want to play man coverage, they have answers to that and things they can do to take advantage to take advantage of that,” Buening said. “If you play zone coverage, they got things they can do. Then they’ve got good players to go do it. So, it’s not just playing in a specific coverage, but being able to, again, defend their kids.”

Rangers at Wildcats

Teams: Forest Park (2-2) at Mt. Vernon (4-0)

Series: Mt. Vernon leads, 1-0.

Last Meeting: Mt. Vernon won, 29-20, Sept. 18, 2020.

1. Forest Park finally got back in the win column on Sept. 10 with a 29-12 win against Tecumseh that snapped a two-game skid in the process. Rangers coach Ross Fuhs has been wanting his offensive linemen to block to the whistle, which he thought they did a better job of. Senior Ethan Beckman and freshman Tyler Fetter each had more than 100 rushing yards.

2. He thought the defense still gave up some big plays, as Braves junior Chase Jones ripped off 175 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Fuhs noted there were some little things the Rangers didn’t do and didn’t follow the keys, but he thinks they’re going in the right direction and are getting better.

3. Fuhs knows the quality of opponent Forest Park will see in Class 3A-No. 6 Mt. Vernon on Friday. The Wildcats have multiple running options of their own in seniors Brady Hook and River Snodgrass. The 10th-year coach said the Rangers must play disciplined football and bottle Hook and Snodgrass up at the line of scrimmage.

4. “I know we’re definitely the underdog coming in, but I think our guys will play well,” Fuhs said. “It will be good to see how they fight through adversity because they’ll have some big plays. They do it every game, but it’s going to be one of those deals how we respond to those big plays and how we deal with it that will kind of make or break the game for us, I think.”

Vikings at Patriots

Teams: North Posey (4-0) at Heritage Hills (3-1), The Jungle, 8 p.m.

Series: Heritage Hills leads, 38-11.

Last Meeting: Heritage Hills won, 35-34, in overtime, Sept. 18, 2020.

1. Something’s got to give. North Posey is undefeated, while Heritage Hills has won three games in a row since starting 0-1. The Patriots put their win streak on the line, even as they had another two turnovers in their Sept. 10 win at South Spencer, giving them 11 through their first four games of the season.

2. The Pats are bound to be tested defensively on Friday night. Freshman running back Jed Galvin has had multiple 100-yard games this season, but if Heritage Hills slows him down, North Posey can always turn to senior quarterback Harold Bender — who has a knack for accuracy. Pats coach Todd Wilkerson said they know what to do scheme-wise, but the team must execute.

3. Heritage Hills is starting to get recognition for its play in 2021. The Pats underwent a tough season last year when they went 4-6, but one more victory matches that total from last year. They’ve pitched two shutouts in the last three weeks, and they received some votes in Class 3A in the Associated Press poll this week.

4. “We’ve been around here long enough that we understand those polls don’t win us games,” Wilkerson said. “It’s nice for our community to see that and our kids to see that who are coming through, but we as coaches know that those polls don’t win us any games at the end of the year.”

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