High School Football Game of the Week Preview – Mater Dei Versus Castle
All eyes will be on Newburgh Friday night as the two only unbeaten teams in the SIAC square off to determine who will ultimately win 2012 conference title.
There are a ton of clichés that can be used to describe this game. The unstoppable force meeting the immovable object, a modern day clash of the titans, and two freight trains on a collision course are the first that come to mind. Whatever way you choose to describe it, the overwhelming consensus is that it should be a great game.
I'm always hesitant to buy into hype surrounding anything, because it seems that more times than not, the outcome never lives up to the expectations. Seeing that last year's match up also saw both teams undefeated, and a 51-48, double-overtime win for Castle, I will make an exception in this case.
On paper, they're nearly identical. Both the Wildcats and the Knights have had little difficulty putting points on the board while keeping opponents from returning the favor. Both have have beaten their respective opponents by an average of 27 points per game. Both have potent offenses able to score points on a moments notice. Both have stout defenses that can cause teams to switch up game plans on the fly by getting into the backfield quickly and disrupting the quarterback's timing.
With all due respect to the other teams in the area, the difference between this game and the previous seven is for these two teams is that neither has faced teams with talent on par with their own. Again, no disrespect to the other teams in the conference, they each certainly have their respective playmakers, but whereas those teams have a handful of talented young men, the rosters for both Mater Dei and Castle are stacked with talent from top to bottom.
If either team has an advantage, I would give it to Castle. On the offensive side of the ball, the Knights return nearly all their starters from last year including quarterback Mitch Gilles along with wide receivers Jon-Marc Anderson, Cameron Parus, and Joe Redburn. All of which possess an impressive amount of speed and can make a touchdown run out of anything if given even the tiniest opening. If there's anything the Mater Dei defense lacks, it's the ability to match opponents speed. In the event a Wildcat defender allows a receiver to get a step or two on them, chances are they won't win the foot race to the end zone. It will be interesting to see if the Mater Dei coaching staff elects to play to that weakness by dialing back their trademark aggressiveness on defense and keep their linebackers and defensive backs in more of a zone scheme.
For the Wildcats, their success will lie in their ability to pressure Gilles into throws he doesn't want to make. The senior QB has been known to channel the personality of a Brett Favre or Tony Romo when the pocket collapses. Meaning he's more inclined to throw the ball up for grabs and try to make something out of nothing as opposed to throwing the ball out of bounds or scrambling to the sidelines. If Mater Dei defensive ends Ben Polk and Dakota Richardt can find their way into the Castle backfield and make Gilles nervous, they're chances of keeping that undefeated record in tact will be good.
If you appreciate a good, competitive football game, this would be the one to tune into. As always, you can catch every snap on Newstalk 1280AM and online at Newstalk1280.com with pre-game at 6:30 and kick off at 7:00.