Four Downs: Raiders, Rangers to collide Friday

Photo by Marlena Sloss/The Herald
Senior quarterback Chase Taylor (5) and Southridge will meet with county rival Forest Park on Friday night in pursuit of the first undefeated regular season in the history of the Raiders.

Here are the games for our local teams on Friday. 

Alices at Wildcats

Teams: Vincennes Lincoln (3-5, 3-5) at Jasper (6-2, 6-2), Jerry Brewer Alumni Stadium, 7:30 p.m.

Series: Jasper leads, 32-17

Last meeting: Jasper defeated Vincennes Lincoln, 35-19, Sept. 20, 2019

1. It’s the final game for the Wildcats before the Oct. 23 sectional opener, and it’s against the rival Alices. Coach Tony Lewis believes there is added incentive anytime there is a rivalry game involved — citing that people put more emphasis on a game like that. He anticipates the fans look forward to this game, and hopes his players will, too.

2. This is also Jasper’s annual Senior Night game, and Lewis has gotten to coach this group of seniors these past two years. Lewis praised this particular group for the camaraderie they have with the juniors and sophomores. He said this senior group will be missed, but the Wildcats aren’t looking ahead, because they want to end the season well, and play well for them Friday.

3. One person the Wildcats will look to stop on Friday is senior quarterback Eric Vickers. Vickers also has a variety of weapons he can throw the ball to, such as junior Coleton Pfoff, and senior Quinn Miller and Blake Mincey. Lewis knows the Wildcats need to put pressure on Vickers and get him antsy in the pocket.

4. “(Evansville) Memorial was able to get pressure on (Vickers) last week (Oct. 9, the Tigers won, 21-6), which was huge for Memorial, and we’ve got to figure out a way to do the same thing because he does a good job of throwing the ball on the run,” Lewis said. “And you can tell he’s played for a while and has good leadership skills.”

Raiders at Rangers (Southridge)

Teams: Southridge (8-0, 4-0) at Forest Park (6-2, 2-1), 7:30 p.m.

Series: Southridge leads, 11-1

Last Meeting: Southridge won, 42-7, Sept. 6, 2019

1. The Raiders came away with a 34-14 win Oct. 9 against Heritage Hills, but coach Scott Buening said it wasn’t one of the team’s cleaner games this season. He felt Southridge had a tough time getting in a rhythm, and added the Raiders committed more penalties than they typically do and put the ball on the ground more than they typically have when they beat the Patriots.

2. Southridge can make some history on Friday. Buening, who is also Southridge’s athletic director, told the Herald through a text message on Tuesday that there has never been an undefeated regular season in the history of the football program, despite state runner-ups and a state championship season. Buening said it was never a goal — the Raiders have just won one game eight times in 2020.

3. Southridge will have the task of trying to stop Rangers senior fullback Jake Begle. Buening said the Raiders, “better get to him and you better get him quick.” He noted Forest Park has some big and strong offensive linemen, plus a good scheme. Buening praised the Rangers for having a good scheme, knowing what they do and putting their players in a position to do well.

4. “We’re going to have play well upfront and we’re going to have to be able to use our athletic ability,” Buening said on stopping Begle. “It’s not going to be a good thing for our guys if we end up locked up on their guys. It’s not what we want to do, and we’re going to have to get him quick. Once he gets going and gets his momentum going, he’s a horse.”

Raiders at Rangers (Forest Park)

Teams: Southridge (8-0, 4-0) at Forest Park (6-2, 2-1), 7:30 p.m.

Series: Southridge leads, 11-1

Last Meeting: Southridge won, 42-7, Sept. 6, 2019

1. Friday will be Senior Night at Forest Park, and Rangers coach Ross Fuhs said this senior class has done a good job leaving their own impact on the program after the successes of the 2020 senior class. Fuhs noted there are similarities between the two, but one difference is that last year’s senior group was a “rah-rah” type of group, while this class leads more quietly.

2. Forest Park is on the verge of having its second consecutive 1,000-yard rusher in Begle after the graduated Drew Day did the same in 2019. Begle has rushed for 985 yards and 12 touchdowns on 121 carries in 2020. With Begle knocking at the doorstep, Fuhs said it’s a product of the hard work that he and Day put in during the offseason to get stronger, faster and showing leadership.

3. Fuhs knows his offensive linemen have to stay on their blocks against the Raiders, who have allowed an average of 9.8 points per game coming into this one. He’s aware that what Southridge lacks in size, it makes up for in quickness. Fuhs said Forest Park must take the games where its offensive line was aggressive, and double it. The key, he said, is staying low, and for the linemen to match Southridge’s quickness and intensity.

4. “For two hours, we want to beat up them, and they want to beat up on us, and after the game, we’ll be buddies again,” said Fuhs, a 2003 Southridge graduate who is friends with some Raider coaches. “I do think it adds maybe a little bit of fuel to the fire just because you know all of them, and I know a lot of people in the community have texted me about the game. So, yeah, I think it maybe ups the ante, so-to-speak, a little bit.”

Patriots at Tigers

Teams: Heritage Hills (3-5, 1-3) at Princeton (0-3), 8:00 p.m.

Last Meeting: Heritage Hills downed Princeton, 58-0, in the sectional semifinal, Oct. 29, 2004

1. Heritage Hills coach Todd Wilkerson said the Patriots have been just trying to get back into the flow of things. Juniors Owen Schaad and Evan Bowling are back this week, which will help improve the team’s depth. This week is about playing together as a cohesive unit, as well tackling better, blocking better and throwing the ball better.

2. Wilkerson thought the Pats played well on defense Oct. 9 against the Raiders, save for sometimes allowing the big play in the 34-14 loss. However, the offense couldn’t muster much after the defense garnered four takeaways. Wilkerson thinks if the offense and defense can both play well and put a complete game together, that they’ll take a step forward as a team.

3. The Pats will be dealing with freshman quarterback Christian Schaefer of the Tigers, and Wilkerson thinks Schaefer runs their offense well. He added it says a lot about someone if they’re playing on the varsity level as a freshman. The Tigers have multiple backs they can turn to with their ground game in senior Ben Heidenreich and sophomore Kaleb Ice. Senior Dominic Hardiman can rack up the receiving yards for them.

4. We’ve talked about the fact that, basically, after last night, we have seven practices left until we play Gibson Southern in the opening game of the sectional,” Wilkerson told the Herald on Tuesday. “And we have to make sure that we value each one of those practices, and we really make an effort to get better at each one of those practices so we can be playing the best we can when it comes opening night of the sectional.”

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