Four Downs: Week 7

Here’s a look ahead at Friday’s football games for Week 7.

Note: Jasper football doesn't have a game this week.

Raiders @ Patriots

Teams: Class 3A No. 8 Southridge (6-0, 4-0) at Class 3A No. 3 Heritage Hills (6-0, 4-0), 8 p.m., The Jungle.

Series: Heritage Hills leads 35-14.

Last season: The Patriots defeated the Raiders 24-17 in Huntingburg.

1) It looked like last week’s tilt between Heritage Hills and Gibson Southern might have been the big game for the Pocket Athletic Conference, but in truth, it only served as table setting for this week’s matchup, as Southridge travels to Lincoln City. Both teams are chocked full of seniors, who know how to rise to the occasion for big games. It should be a fight down to the last whistle to determine who walks away with the conference crown. The last 10 meetings between Heritage Hills and Southridge have gone 7-3 in favor of the Pats.

2) The Patriots racked up 476 yards of total offense without completing a pass last week, and they aren’t keen on changing their approach against the Raiders. They’ll lean on their two-headed fullback attack with seniors Jacob Wetzel (378 yards., 4 TDs) and Phoenix Rodgers (325 yds., 9 TDs) to lead the charge and soften up the defense for Cole Sigler, Gavin Vaal and Noah Mundy. The Raider defense averages a little over 117 rushing yards allowed in their previous six games, and have held three opponents to less than 100 yards on the ground.

3) “I don’t think we’ve faced a team like Southridge who’s as committed to the run as they are,” said Patriots coach Todd Wilkerson. “We have to prove we can buckle it up for an extended period of time. Southridge establishes the run, then when you fall asleep, they hit you with the long pass. It’s about staying locked in on our keys, playing well up front to control that line of scrimmage and letting our linebackers go make tackles.”

4) “The fullback is a slow death, their quarterback is a quick death,” Raiders coach Scott Buening said about the challenge in stopping the run against Heritage Hills. “Everybody knows what you have to do. But knowing what to do and figuring out how to do it are two different things. Everyone is trying to figure out how to make them throw the ball and get them uncomfortable. We’re going to take our shot at it, but you've got to get them behind the chains. That’s going to be our focus.”


Rebels @ Rangers

Teams: South Spencer (1-5, 1-4), at Forest Park (3-3, 1-3) 7:30 p.m., Ranger Field.

Series: South Spencer leads 10-1.

Last season: The Rebels defeated the Rangers 49-16 at home.

1) Forest Park didn’t have a lot going its way in the Rangers' loss to North Posey last week, but the stat totals point toward the lack of rushing yards and failure to extend drives as their two biggest sore spots a week ago. In all three of their wins this season, the Rangers rushed for more than 180 yards and converted at least 16 first downs; they only gained 48 yards on the ground and converted nine first downs against the Vikings. Rangers coach Ross Fuhs called the loss a function of mental breakdowns rather than getting outplayed physically, so he’s working to get the boys' focus back to where it needs to be when they host South Spencer.

2) Fuhs says the Ranger defense is taking a page out of Al Davis’ book as they form their game plan this week: The quarterback must go down, and he must go down hard. They’re focused on getting a good rush up front to keep three-year starter Kobe Bartlett uncomfortable and unsettled in the pocket. Bartlett went 13 of 16 passing for 198 yards and four touchdowns in the Rebels’ 62-12 win last week against Pike Central.

3) The Ranger secondary is preparing for all kinds of routes the Rebels are expected to run out their spread offense. South Spencer will line up its receivers in multiple formations and run everything from quick crossing routes to routes that are designed to take awhile to develop and create separation from opposing defensive backs. But the Rangers' DBs have been hard at work patrolling the skies, with five interceptions in the past three weeks, three of which were returned for touchdowns.

4) “A win this week is a big confidence builder for us,” Fuhs said. “I felt we had the confidence going, and after last week, it maybe slipped a little bit. This gets our guys back to where they need to be, feeling like they can compete with all the teams we play.”

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