High School Football Game of the Week Preview – Jasper at Reitz
It's sectional finals week, and two teams all too familiar with each other will meet for the third year in a row for the chance to move on to the regional in Class 4A.
After a narrow 31-30 loss at Jasper in 2012 for the sectional title, the Wildcats got the best of the Panthers last year, again at Jasper, by a score of 17-9. This year, Reitz has the advantage of getting the Wildcats on their turf at the Bowl Friday night. It will be the second straight trip to Evansville for Jasper as they traveled to the north side for last week's game against Central. A game that featured an astonishing 75 plays from the Wildcats offense, including six trips into the red zone, five of which led to touchdowns.
Despite what it may sound like, it wasn't a cake-walk for the Wildcats, who found themselves tied with the Bears at halftime, 13-13. After a halftime "attitude adjustment", the Wildcats settled down and relied on what they know, a tough ground-and-pound attack against a Central defense that had troubles stopping the big play throughout the season, to set up a return match against the Panthers.
While I don't want to use the word, "easy", the Panthers journey to Friday night was, let's say, "less difficult", after disposing of the visiting Owen Valley Patriots at the Bowl 35-10. However, much like Jasper, the Panthers got off to a rough start against the Patriots. Pinned deep in their own territory, Reitz gave up a safety to Owen Valley early for the first points of the game, leading to a 2-0 score to end the first quarter. The Panthers got rolling in the second half by putting the ball in the hands of their play maker, Malik Higgins, who ran for 140 yards, and found the end zone three times to put send the Patriots home with a 35-10 loss.
Friday night's game has all the makings of a good, old fashioned "slobberknocker". This very well could be I suspect we'll see both teams attempt to establish the run early, despite having reliable passers in Evan Deig for Reitz, and Nolan Ahrens for Jasper. Defensively, each team will have to be at its best to contain the rushing attack of the opposing offense with Jasper needing to keep Higgins in check, and Reitz having to know where either Ben Moore, or Tate Blessinger are at all times.
Reitz will need to keep the aggressiveness of their defense in check if they want to come out with a win. As we saw in their games against North and Central, they are susceptible to giving up big gains on the ground by leaving the middle of the field wide open when they send the linebackers on a blitz. If they send the house, and Jasper can get a few good blocks for their backs on those plays, the Panthers may be try to dig themselves out of a hole early.
Due to our coverage of the Evansville IceMen game Friday night on ESPN Evansville 105.3, coverage of this game will move over to our sister-station, Newstalk 1280 WGBF-AM with pregame at 6:30, and kickoff at 7:00.