Four Downs: Week 3

Wildcats @ Pioneers

Teams: Jasper (0-2) travels to Boonville (2-0), 7:30 p.m.

Series: Jasper leads 54-12.

Last meeting: Boonville defeated Jasper 17-6 in sectional semifinal.

1. Last season, the Boonville ground game proved to be the dominant factor in its regular-season win over Jasper. The Pioneers’ 276 rushing yards eclipsed the Wildcats’ 259 total yards, and featured former running back Luke Conner, who finished with 200 yards and three touchdowns on 16 carries.

2. Friday’s game will bring it full circle for senior quarterback Nathan Rillo. Former Wildcats quarterback Jacob Ahlbrand sustained a calf injury in the fourth quarter of last year’s meeting, which sidelined him for the remainder of season and opened the door for Rillo to step in and take over the offense.

3. Boonville has plenty of size across its offensive and defensive lines, so Jasper coach Tony Lewis wants to focus on using the Wildcats’ speed to even the odds. Stunts, creating angles, sustaining drives and discipline in terms of minimal penalties are the formula for the best chance for success.

4. Lewis also believes special teams will play a key role in determining the outcome of Friday’s game. Pinning the Pioneers deep in their own territory to start drives will be big for the Wildcats, and on the flip side, they want to use their kick returns to create as many short-field scenarios as possible.


Rangers @ Raiders

Teams: Class 3A No. 9 Southridge (2-0) hosts Forest Park (1-1) at Raider Stadium, 7:30 p.m.

Series: Southridge leads 10-1.

Last meeting: Southridge defeated Forest Park 48-7.

1. Takeaways were a key ingredient for Southridge, as the Raiders intercepted two passes and were able to take both picks to the house for scores in last year’s win over Forest Park. Forcing turnovers was critical in the Raiders’ opening win against Linton-Stockton, while the Rangers were able to survive two first-half turnovers in last week’s win over Perry Central.

2. Forest Park coach Ross Fuhs said the big points of emphasis this week have been sound tackling and knowing responsibilities on the defensive end to limit big plays. He believes poor takedown efforts or guys being out of positions on a given play is what allows offenses to get loose on them, so cleaning those up will go a long way for the Rangers this week.

3. Southridge has had to come from behind in both of its wins so far, and Coach Scott Buening complimented Forest Park on how the Rangers responded to adversity in their win last week over Perry Central. Both teams aren’t strangers to playing in slugfest-type games, so Buening believes being able to issue responses will be the key in determining Friday’s final result.

4. The Raiders have won eight straight going into Friday’s meeting, with the only Rangers victory coming in 2010, the third season of the football program. Forest Park went on to win eight games that season and made it to the sectional semifinals, while Southridge finished with seven wins and advanced to the sectional title game.


Chargers @ Patriots

Teams: Class 3A No. 3 Heritage Hills (2-0) welcomes Pike Central (0-2) to the Jungle, 8 p.m.

Series: Heritage Hills leads 46-1.

Last meeting: Heritage Hills defeated Pike Central 62-2.

1. Heritage Hills was able to get the benefit of a multitude of explosive plays last season. Three of the Patriot scores on offense went for more than 40 yards, and a third-quarter punt return touchdown by senior running back Gavin Vaal covered 60 yards. Senior fullback Jacob Wetzel also finished with an 18-yard rushing touchdown.

2. The Patriots were also able to throw a straight jacket over the Chargers’ offense, limiting their gains to 2.7 yards per play in last year’s game. Defensively, the Pats have allowed an average of 4.2 yards per play and surrendered a single score in their first two games.

3. Heritage Hills coach Todd Wilkerson called this game a chance for his team to sharpen up on some of its details. Reading defensive keys, shoring up blocking protections and hustling on the backside of plays have been the areas of focus this week.

4. Heritage Hills scores big in its games against Pike Central. During Wilkerson’s tenure, the Patriots have scored at least 40 points when they’ve encountered the Chargers.


On Twitter, follow The Herald’s Travis David at @TDavid_21 and Jonathan Saxon at @TheSleepyScribe for live game updates.

More on