Four Downs: One-third down, two-thirds to go

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
Jasper's play early on is earning some recognition. The Indiana Football Coaches Association ranked the Wildcats No. 5 in Class 4A this week, while the Associated Press has them at No. 4. 

By Herald Staff

Here's a look ahead to our teams and their games this week.

Wildcats at Bulldogs

Teams: Jasper (3-0, 3-0) at Evansville Bosse (2-1, 2-1), 7:30 p.m.

1. Jasper's play is getting some recognition in the early going of the season. The Indiana Football Coaches Association has ranked the Wildcats No. 5 in Class 4A, while the Associated Press has put them at No. 4. Jasper coach Tony Lewis noted the team isn't focusing too much on that, but it's nice his players are getting recognition.

2. Lewis is pleased with the senior group the Wildcats have and how they're leading the younger players. He believes the leaders are buying into their roles, and are leading both vocally and with their actions. He likes how they're trying to improve each week, and the team had a better week of practice last week compared to two weeks ago.

3. Jasper will be taking on an Evansville Bosse team that got off to its first 2-0 start since 1994, only to drop a 49-0 loss Sept. 10 against Castle. Lewis noted, though, that Castle is a very good team. He thought Bulldogs got down early and struggled to get anything going. Lewis' counterpart Friday night will be Stephan Mullen, a former player of his at Evansville Reitz.

4. "I think Coach Mullen knows that offensively, we're doing some things differently now than what we did his senior year," Lewis said. "We had a really good quarterback (Matt McIntosh) that was an all-state quarterback that went to Northern Illinois. We spread people out a little bit more and threw it more. So, we like to base what we do on our personnel."

Chargers at Raiders

Teams: Pike Central (0-1, 0-1) at Southridge (1-2, 0-1), Raider Field, 7:30 p.m.

Series: Southridge leads, 43-4.

Last Meeting: Southridge defeated Pike Central, 58-0, Sept. 11, 2020.

1. Southridge coach Scott Buening knows a lot has happened, good and bad, through the first third of the regular season. The ninth-year coach noted that the Raiders have played a challenging first three games on their schedule against some experienced teams. He believes Southridge is continuing to improve and get better as the season goes along.

2. The Raiders fell, 40-28, Sept. 3 at North Posey, which was the first time they've seen an opponent who can push the ball down the field and throw the ball as much as the Vikings do. He credited North Posey for making some tough plays, but also felt his team never made the Vikings uncomfortable in the scoreboard, as the Raiders never led in the game.

3. On the schedule for the Raiders this week is Pike Central, a team that last won on Sept. 8, 2018. The Chargers have since lost 25 games in a row, and lost their season opener this past week to Pocket Athletic Conference Small School foe South Spencer, 55-0. Buening knows that no matter who the opponent is, though, the Raiders have a lot they need to focus on.

4. "They've got a new coach (Kelly Brashear), new system," Buening said of the Chargers. "I know they're trying like crazy to change the perception of their program, the culture in their program. Coach Brashear has been head coach before and had some success. And I know that's what they're trying to do."

Braves at Rangers

Teams: Tecumseh (1-1) at Forest Park (1-2), 7:30 p.m.

Series: Tied, 3-3

Last Meeting: Forest Park topped Tecumseh, 13-0, Sept. 11, 2020.

1. Forest Park is under .500 for the first time since starting 1-2 in the 2019 season, but the Rangers would rebound, take care of business and finish with a winning record at 6-5. Coach Ross Fuhs believes his players are close - they're not playing terrible football, the effort is there. It's all about cleaning up the little things in games.

2. One player from Tecumseh who stands out to Fuhs is junior fullback Chase Jones. Fuhs noted that the Braves run a similar offense to what Tell City runs, but out of the shotgun formation. He also knows the Braves blitz a lot on defense, and it's going to be important for the offense to pick up on those blitzes.

3. He thought the defense played well in the 14-10 loss Sept. 3 at Tell City. He pointed to the Rangers allowing just five passing yards on defense, and thought the linebackers did a better job coming downhill. One thing that stood out, though, was the field position Forest Park yielded on special teams. So, special teams coverage will be emphasized this week.

4. "There's offense, there's defense, there's special teams - and special teams can win or lose you a game," Fuhs said. "I thought the other night their punt returns gave them great field position and they did have a nice score off one of those - definitely an emphasis. I mean, it's an emphasis every week, but have to start putting a little more on it."

Patriots at Rebels

Teams: Heritage Hills (2-1) at South Spencer (1-2), 8 p.m.

Last Meeting: Heritage Hills bested South Spencer, 36-7, Sept. 11, 2020.

Series: Heritage Hills leads, 38-12.

1. Heritage Hills is above .500 for the first time since going to state in 2019. The Patriots lost the opener at Mt. Vernon, but have since won two in a row. They may be having success, and coach Todd Wilkerson is pleased, but he thinks they still have a long way to go. He believes there are too many turnovers, and this team can be pretty good if they correct the turnovers.

2. The Pats have turned the ball over nine teams through the first three games, and Wilkerson believes a lack of focus is contributing to these turnovers. Yet, they're still winning, and the loss to Mt. Vernon was by single digits despite five turnovers. Wilkerson thinks his defense has played well, and the running game has been pretty good.

3. Heritage Hills will be getting a look at freshman quarterback Ty Brown of the Rebels. Brown can be a dual-threat quarterback - he rushed for 84 yards and three touchdowns in the win against the Chargers. The Pats will also have to contend with a Rebels team with size, which includes senior offensive linemen Jed Ambs and John Brown.

4. "I think their short passing game is effective," Wilkerson said. "I think we got to do a nice job covering guys in the flats and hook zones, matching up to people and not allowing them to get that short passing game going - because when they do that, I think they can sprinkle in the run a little bit more effectively.

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