Four Downs: Week 5

Here's a quick overview of Friday's football games going into Week 5.

Wildcats @ Alices 

Teams: Jasper Wildcats (1-3, 1-0) visits the Vincennes Lincoln Alices (1-3, 0-2) 7:30 p.m.

Series: Jasper leads 31-17.

Last meeting: The Alices defeated the Wildcats 30-23 at Alumni Stadium last year.

1 Wildcats head coach Tony Lewis acknowledged that the Wildcats took a slight step back last week, but he believes there’s a silver lining in that cloud. Last week’s loss to Heritage Hills has led to a renewed sense of focus in practice, which feels similar to the air around the team before their 35-0 win over Boonville two weeks ago.

2 Lewis called the Alices a very athletic team that uses a lot of formations to spread out defenses and stretch the field. Defensively, the focus is making the Alices one-dimensional by keying in on the running game. Should they be successful there, the Wildcats think they have the combination of pressure and coverage packages to make life difficult for the Alices.

3 Offensively, Lewis wants the Wildcats to eliminate mistakes and find ways to sustain drives in Friday’s game. Costly penalties and turnovers in scoring positions during the first four games have erased a lot of potential points for Jasper, and while Lincoln’s offense hasn’t been that prolific as a whole, the Alices scored 28 points in their season-opening win over Evansville Bosse.

4 “Focus has been good in practice,” Lewis said. “They understand the importance of this game. It’s a Big Eight game. We’re still in the running to win the championship, and we want to be playing our best football at the end of the year.”

Raiders @ Rebels

Teams: Class 3A No. 8 Southridge (4-0, 2-0) travels to face South Spencer (0-4, 0-2) , 7:30 p.m.

Series: South Spencer leads 29-27.

Last meeting: Southridge put up double nickels on the scoreboard, defeating South Spencer 55-21.

1 Raiders coach Scott Buening is on trap-game high alert, and doesn’t think the Rebels are a team to be overlooked, despite their 0-4 record. The film tells Buening that South Spencer has the athletes and scheme to potentially be a problem, so he’s wary as Southridge looks for its third conference win.

2 The Rebels will be the first spread team the Raiders have faced this season, so the big challenge is making sure the defense is sound in its assignments so the Raiders can keep track of the playmakers across the field. So far, the Raider defense is responsible for 10 turnovers and six sacks, and have averaged less than 13 points allowed through four games. 

3 Buening knows he’s said it before, but the key to success will be winning up front on both sides of the line. He wants to keep the Rebels’ offense on the sideline as much as possible. And when the Raiders play defense, it's critical that they get pressure on junior quarterback Kobe Bartlett as early and often as possible

4 “The one thing that’s been an issue for us most of the season is finishing in the red zone,” Buening said. “We’ve not been very good inside the 10 and 5 yard line, so that’s been disappointing. That is an area where we’re spending a lot of time trying to fix up the mechanical issues.”

Chargers @ Rangers

Teams: Forest Park (2-2, 0-2) hosts Pike Central (0-4, 0-2), 7:30 p.m. Friday, Ranger Field.

Series: Rangers lead series 6-5.

Last meeting: Forest Park defeated Pike Central 41-17.

1 There weren’t a lot of highlights for the Rangers last year, but they did get their lone win of the season against the Chargers when they met on Sept. 14. The Chargers had won the previous two meetings, but last year’s game tipped the series in the Rangers’ favor.

2 Pike Central is a ball club that favors a spread offense, and Rangers coach Ross Fuhs said the Chargers have had success throwing the ball on teams at various spots. To that end, he is looking for his defensive backs to be more aggressive in coverage and look to break up passes or pick the ball off should it come in their vicinity.

3 On the offensive side of things Fuhs is looking to implement more passing in Friday’s game as he works to make Forest Park a more balanced team. He is confident in sophomore QB Cooper Uebehlor’s ability to deliver the football all over the field, and points to a 47-yard Jared Schipp TD against Gibson Southern, and Jake Begle’s 42-yard score versus the Braves as evidence of the Rangers’ big-play ability. 

4 “Teams are going to keep keying in on Drew (Day) at the fullback spot, so we've got to be a little more creative in ways to give guys the ball,” Fuhs said. “The more guys that can step up and the more options we have, the harder it’s going to be for other teams to scout us.”

Patriots @ Vikings

Teams: Class 3A No. 3 Heritage Hills (4-0, 2-0) travels to Poseyville to take on North Posey (1-3, 1-1), 8:00 p.m.

Series: Heritage Hills leads 36-11.

Last meeting: Heritage Hills defeated North Posey 66-7 at home.

1 The Patriots have been dealing with some injury issues as of late, but head coach Todd Wilkerson thinks the worst of it is behind them. Senior signal caller Cole Sigler is recovering nicely from a sore shoulder he hurt in the Tell City game, and senior fullback Jacob Wetzel has been a full participant in practice after injuring his leg in the first drive of last week’s game against Jasper.

2 North Posey will keep the spread theme going strong when the Vikings host Heritage Hills on Friday. Wilkerson said the Vikings use a lot of formations that are hard to model in practice. But as long as the Pats read their keys and don’t let the Vikings get behind them, the coach thinks they’ll be in good shape.

3 Wilkserson said the Patriots' offensive line has been somewhat inconsistent the past couple of games. He has seen them fall into a pattern where they will be great for a series, then turn around and struggle in the next drive. Wilkerson has confidence in the athletic and mental capabilities of his line, but he’s looking for them to put it all together on a more consistent basis.

4 "I’m looking for leadership,” Wilkerson said. “We’ve got a nice group of seniors who have excelled the last two years in terms of wins. But we’re to that point in the season where we want to see outstanding leadership from those players. That means making sure they practice well, and on game nights if things don’t go well for a stretch of time, we see guys trying to pick each other up.” 

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