Four Downs: Week 1

Here's a rundown of our area football teams and their Week 1 matchups.

Click here to read more about the upcoming season in our Fall Football Guide.


Wildcats @ Tigers

Teams: Jasper (8-3 last season) at Class 3A No. 1 Evansville Memorial (14-1 last season en route to a state championship), 7:30 p.m. Friday at Enlow Stadium.
Series: Jasper leads 24-18.
Last meeting: Evansville Memorial defeated the Cats 18-7 in Jasper’s home opener last year.
1.) Jasper arguably may have the toughest opening two weeks in the entire state, as the Wildcats will do battle with the reigning Class 3A state champ Tigers in Week 1 and then the defending Class 2A champs at Southridge in Week 2.
2.) Reece Milligan (Sr., WR/RB) returns as one of the top offensive threats for the Wildcats, as he amassed nearly 800 total yards (441 receiving, 180 rushing, 171 kick returns) and totaled five touchdowns for Jasper in 2017.
3.) Zach Rydberg (Sr., LB), Carson Park (Jr., LB), Zach Flynn (Sr., LB) and Kyle Hedinger (Sr., LB) return as four of the top run-stuffers from a year ago, as each of the four had more than six tackles for loss, with Rydberg leading the way with 14.
4.) Evansville Memorial ended its 2017 season with an eight-game winning streak, and they’ll return top stars Michael Lindauer (Sr., QB) and Branson Combs (Sr., WR), who will play college football at Southern Illinois.

Miners @ Raiders

Teams: Linton (7-4 last season) at Class 2A No. 1 Southridge (13-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday, Raider Field.
Series: Southridge leads 4-0.
Last meeting: The Raiders shutout the Miners 20-0 in the sectional semifinal last year after both teams were held scoreless in the first half.
1.) Southridge will open its season at home with a new look, not only with the Raiders’ new starting QB (Colson Montgomery, Soph.), but also with their new bleachers (home fans now sit on west side) and press box.
2.) The Raiders return nearly their entire special teams unit from 2017, including Jeovany Dubon (Sr., K), Chase Taylor (Soph., P) and Tucker Schank (Sr., KR/PR). Dubon led the area with 21 touchbacks on kickoffs while Taylor averaged 30 yards a punt and had a season-long 53 yards in the sectional win over Linton.
3.) Southridge has always been known for its tenacious defense, and this year’s group will be led by Cole Calvert (Jr., LB), who led the area with 111 total tackles and also added three fumble recoveries.
4.) While the Miners did graduate Keaton Cox, they return Lance Dyer (Jr., QB/FS), who led the Miners with a total of 1,210 all-purpose yards last season (904 rushing, 169 receiving, 137 kick/punt returns).

Titans @ Rangers

Teams: Class 3A No. 7 Gibson Southern (11-1 last season) at Forest Park (4-7), 7:30 p.m. Friday, Ranger Field.
Series: Gibson Southern leads 7-3.
Last meeting: Dylan Stefanich and the Titans ran all over the Rangers in Fort Branch last year en route to a 62-0 shutout.
1.) While the Rangers have some tough games on their schedule, arguably the three toughest teams they’ll face this season — Gibson Southern, Southridge and North Posey — will all travel to Ranger Field.
2.) Losing players such as Sam Englert, Braydon Voegerl and Noah Fleck will be tough at first, but Forest Park does return a few offensive weapons from last year’s squad, such as Gavin Pierce (Sr., RB), who rushed for 70 yards in limited action due to injuries, and Jared Schipp (Jr., WR/DB), who finished with 107 receiving yards and two touchdowns last season.
3.) Forest Park’s defense will look to swarm opposing offense and force fumbles as they return three players who knocked footballs loose last year — Gavin Knust (Jr., TE/DE), Reese Verkamp (Jr., TE/LB) and Nick Werner (Sr., OL/DL)
4.) Andrew Smith (Sr., CB/WR) returns as the Titans’ leading player in the secondary, as he finished with a team-high four interceptions.

Wildcats @ Patriots

Teams: Mount Vernon (2-8 last season) at Heritage Hills (5-5), 8 p.m. Friday, The Jungle.
Series: Heritage Hills leads 11-5.
Last meeting: The Pats cruised to a 42-26 road victory thanks to four passing TDs from Cade Jones.
1.) Southridge isn’t the only team playing in an upgraded stadium this year — the Patriots made major renovations to Patriot Field that included new lights being installed, more bleachers and an expanded press box.
2.) Cole Sigler (Jr., QB/DB) takes over the role as starting quarterback this year, as Cade Jones (Sr., RB/LB) will take more snaps at the running back position. In limited playing time at QB last year, Sigler was 15 of 27 with 157 passing yards, one touchdown and one interception.
3.) Carson Leibering (Sr., K) will return for Heritage Hills, as he converted 90 percent of his PATs last season (35 of 37), and made the only two field goals he attempted all year.
4.) The Wildcats have won just two games in the past two seasons (a 28-22 victory at Mount Carmel and a 27-24 victory in their first meeting against Scottsburg), and have lost six games by 30 or more points during the two-year span.

More on