Evansville High School Football Game of the Week Preview – Mater Dei vs Sullivan
The undefeated Wildcats head north to take on the 7-3 Golden Arrows of Sullivan High School for the chance to play in the sectional championship against either North Posey or Southridge on November 8th.
On paper, the road to round two of the sectionals wasn't terribly difficult for either team, with Mater Dei taking care of Forest Park 49-7 at "home" (the game took place at Bosse High School's Enlow Field due to Reitz hosting Owen Valley at the Bowl), and Sullivan making quick work of South Spencer 48-21 last week.
However, as the number of teams dwindle each week, the competition gets tougher, and there's no doubt Sullivan will look to make a statement when the number one ranked Wildcats take the field.
The Golden Arrows and the Wildcats are no strangers to one another as they've faced off 11 times since 1991 (they played a regular season and sectional game in '96), with Sullivan only winning the '93 game by a score of 7-14. The most recent match up took place in 2011 and ended with the Wildcats bouncing Sullivan out of the first round of the sectionals by a score of 7-41. Over the course of those 11 games, Mater Dei has outscored Sullivan a combined 432-152, shutting them completely out in two of those match ups.
But that was then, and as the game of football has proven time and time again, anything can happen on any given Friday night.
Sullivan enters the game with their best record since the 2007 season carried by the arm of senior Mike Willis who has completed 133 passes on 240 attempts for a 55.4% completion percentage, nearly 2,000 yards (1,911 to be exact), 19 touchdowns, and 11 interceptions. Willis also leads the team in rushing attempts at 99, three more than running back Brooks Weszely, for 395 yards and three scores making him a dual threat out of the backfield, meaning the Mater Dei defense will have to stay focused and be well disciplined to avoid getting burned by a read option play or quarterback keeper.
Not an easy task when they also need to contain not only the aforementioned Weszley (96 carries, 471 yards, and eight touchdowns), but junior Cameron Marx who has contributed 64 carries over the season for 347 yards, and four scores of his own.
Receiving-wise, Willis seems to distribute the ball evenly between his receivers with senior Michael Hutchcraft leading the way with 38 catches for 682 yards and seven touchdowns.
Offensively for the Wildcats, I suspect you'll see more of the power running game that has dominating opponents for the past few weeks as the coaching staff has taken what the opposing defense has given them and successfully used a revolving door of running backs including Nolan Goebel, Julian Weidner, Logan McCann, and Drake Richardt to pick up big yards, and more importantly, big points thanks to some incredible blocking by not only their beefy offensive line, but their wide receiving corp as well.
Thanks to the success of the running game over the past few weeks, senior quarterback Chase Hoehn hasn't been called upon to open up the passing much, however in last week's opening round win over Forest Park, Hoehn was efficient going 10-12 for 116 yards and no interceptions. He added four carries for 22 yards and one score before being pulled after the first series of the third quarter as the Wildcats found themselves with a comfortable lead.
It should be a great game in Sullivan Friday night as the number one ranking of the Wildcats only gives Sullivan extra incentive to come out with all guns-a-blazin' as they say.
Catch every snap on Newstalk 1280, and online at Newstalk 1280.com with an early start time to compensate for the one hour difference between Evansville and Sullivan. Pregame begins at 6pm, with kickoff at 6:30, Evansville time.