High School Football Game of the Week Preview – Reitz vs Mater Dei
The two lone undefeated teams in the SIAC meet under the lights of the Reitz Bowl with the City, Conference, and West Side Nut Club titles on the line.
It wouldn't matter if both teams entered tonight's game with zero wins, this is the game fans and alumni from both schools circle on the calendar each and every year. The Bowl will be packed to the rim and beyond with thousands of people dressed in either Panther blue and gray, or Wildcat red and gold. It will be an electric night for sure. The fact that both teams come in undefeated with everything on line only adds that extra bit of drama to the entire scenario.
Both teams have rolled through the competition this season in similar fashion — a nearly unstoppable ground and pound running game complemented by stifling defense that more times than not have shut down opposing offenses throughout the year.
Tonight's game will showcase two of the best all around athletes in the city, and some would argue the state, in Reitz's Malik Higgins and Mater Dei's Julian Weidner. Both have been utilized predominately in the running game despite being listed by both teams as wide receivers, and have displayed impressive speed, and down-field vision to find open lanes in route to big yards per carry, and more importantly, touchdowns.
Just how good are they? Higgins has racked up 1,871 all-purpose yards, 1,399 of them rushing, while finding the endzone a total of 23 times. Weidner on the other hand is just shy of the 1,000 yard mark in all-purpose yards with 921, and has found pay dirt 11 times. It should be noted that even though he dressed for the game at North in week five, he did not play as he was reportedly nursing a strained leg muscle.
What will be interesting to see is how they fare against each team's defense. You could argue that neither has faced a defense yet this year like they will tonight. I still think both will get over 100 yards rushing because they're just that good, but they will be hard-fought yards.
What the Wildcats have going for them is that if Reitz is able to shut Weidner down, they have an excellent running back in Drayke Richardt and fullback Logan McCann. Both have been key in Mater Dei's undefeated run this season with their ability to barrel through opposing defenses with McCann, the Wildcats starting middle linebacker, called on to pick up first downs on short yardage situations.
The X-Factor for the Panthers will be junior quarterback Evan Deig, who, after expressing some anxiety about taking over the program early in the year, has shown tremendous growth over the course of the season and has proved to be the right decision at the position by Head Coach Andy Hape, throwing for 1,294 yards, 20 touchdowns, four interceptions, and a 64.5% completion rate.
All eyes will be on this game, and you can hear every minute of it live with play-by-play from Jimmie Ford and myself on ESPN Evansville 105.3, or online at ESPNevansville.com.