Four Downs: Scene set for eventful finale

Photo by Corey Stolzenbach/The Herald
A win Friday night at Vincennes Lincoln would guarantee Jasper an outright Southern Indiana Athletic Conference championship.

By Herald Staff

Here is a look ahead to the games featuring our teams in this week’s regular season finale.

Wildcats at Alices

Teams: Jasper (8-0, 8-0) at Vincennes Lincoln (1-7, 1-7), 7:30 p.m.

Series: Jasper leads, 33-17

Last Meeting: Jasper ran away with a 48-0 win, Oct. 16, 2020

1. It’s the regular season finale for Jasper, who is at its rival, Vincennes Lincoln. Oh, and just to up the ante a little bit, the Wildcats have the opportunity to win the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference outright with a win. They’ve already clinched at least a share, but taking care of business can give the title all to themselves.

2. The Wildcats are averaging 36.3 points per game this season, compared to allowing 13.9 points per game this season. The Alices, meanwhile have averaged 8.8 points per game compared to the average 31.8 points they’ve allowed. Yet, Jasper coach Tony Lewis knows Vincennes Lincoln’s offense is still capable of making some plays.

3. Lewis felt the Wildcats didn’t come out and play hard in the first half during the team’s 20-13 win Oct. 8 against Evansville North. He feels that’s something the Wildcats need to do first and foremost, and he’s hoping they’ll come out, play hard and be focused on the task at hand in playing the rival Alices.

4. “It’s a rivalry game,” Lewis said. “You can throw out the records in any type of rivalry game. Vincennes is a big rival and has always been a big rival of Jasper. So, they’re going to play their best game of the year against us, and that’s how our kids need to prepare in terms of knowing that we’re going to get their best shot.”

Rangers at Raiders (Southridge)Teams: Forest Park (3-5, 1-3) at Southridge (4-4, 3-1), Raider Field, 7:30 p.m.

Series: Southridge leads, 12-1

Last Meeting: Southridge won, 38-0, Oct. 16, 2020

1. Southridge will try end the regular season on a high note Friday and clinch at least a .500 record on the season, depending on what happens in the Sectional 32 opener Oct. 22 against Salem. The Raiders took a 20-13 loss Oct. 8 at Heritage Hills, and Southridge coach Scott Buening thought the team had some key turnovers and allowed some explosive plays.

2. He said Southridge’s consistency has got to improve. Buening noted attitude and effort need to be an all-the-time thing. However, when it comes to performance, Southridge is looking to be a most-of-the-time, but the Raiders have teetered between that and being a some-of-the-time team.

3. The Raiders will be taking on county rival Forest Park, and Buening lauded the size and strength the Rangers have that will pose problems for Southridge’s defensive line. They’ll have to try to slow down freshman Tyler Fetter and also senior Ethan Beckman out in the backfield, and Buening said the Rangers have a similar scheme with a defense that hasn’t allowed a lot of points.

4. “As you watch their film, you don’t see a bad football team,” Buening said of the Rangers. “You see a good football team that’s just, I think similar to us, struggling to find some consistency, just in their performance. And they’ll have just little stretches in games that will end up hurting them, but they’re playing 80% of the game toe-to-toe generally with whoever they’re playing.”

Rangers at Raiders (Forest Park)Teams: Forest Park (3-5, 1-3) at Southridge (4-4, 3-1), Raider Field, 7:30 p.m.

Series: Southridge leads, 12-1

Last Meeting: Southridge won, 38-0, Oct. 16, 2020

1. Forest Park broke through in a major way with a 55-0 win Oct. 8 against Pike Central. That win snapped a three-game skid the Rangers were on, with it being nearly a month to the day since the last time they won a game. Forest Park also didn’t fumble at all against the Chargers after they put the ball on the ground seven times Oct. 1 at North Posey.

2. Coach Ross Fuhs talked about some points of emphasis in the final week before sectional. He still talked about blocking to the whistle and ball security on offense, while still needing to tackle better on defense. He’s hoping to clean things up on special teams, and said things need to be better on kickoff these next couple of weeks.

3. Forest Park will try to slow down several skill position players the Raiders possess. Sophomore Hudson Allen has filled in at quarerback recently, and was 10-of-17 passing for 117 yards and a touchdown against the Pats. Senior Aidan Jochem has been key at fullback, and senior Kaden Neukam can be a dual-threat back as a runner and receiver.

4. “It’s just one of those deals where we got to find a way to try to bottle him up as close to the line of scrimmage as possible,” Fuhs said. “Once he breaks a couple of tackles and gets into the open field, he’s got a really good chance to score. But they do a great job blocking for him and their other backs — the Neukam kid and (junior Reid Schroeder) are excellent backs as well.”

Tigers at Patriots

Teams: Princeton (2-6, 1-3) at Heritage Hills (6-2, 2-2), The Jungle, 8 p.m.

Last Meeting: Heritage Hills ran away with a 42-12 win Oct. 16, 2020

1. Heritage Hills coach Todd Wilkerson thought the Patriots needed their 20-13 win Oct. 8 against Southridge. He felt they needed to establish some confidence and some momentum heading into the tournament. They needed to see how senior Luke Rickelman would lead the team in a close game in his move to quarterback, and Wilkerson thought he did an outstanding job.

2. The Pats have things they’re trying to work on each week as the tournament nears. Wilkerson talked about trying to improve pass coverage, always working on tackling and trying to become better blockers. He said the defense continues to be pretty solid, but still have things to work on. The offense has been good enough, but need to get the passing game up to speed.

3. Heritage Hills will be taking on Princeton this week. Tigers coach Jared Maners has Gibson Southern coach Nick Hart as a brother-in-law, and the Pats see similarities in the style of offense between Princeton and Gibson Southern. Both can spread things out and try to make the defense try to cover the whole field, which will be key for the Pats secondary and linebackers.

4. “They make you be sound against both the run and the pass,” Wilkerson said. “If you commit too much to the run, they’ll pull the ball and throw it behind you. So, for us, it’s about making sure we execute our defensive plan and we read our keys and understanding if we come out and have a mental lapse, they can easily rip off a long score on us.”

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