High School Football Game of the Week One Preview – Mater Dei vs Heritage Hills
An old rivalry will be renewed under the lights at the Reitz Bowl.
When I was a student at Mater Dei ('91-'95), the path to a state title almost always ran through Heritage Hills. Since the teams are in two different conferences, we didn't see them until tournament time which made the match up even more nerve-racking because you knew if we lost, the season was over. That's from a fan's perspective, so I can't imagine what it was like for the players and coaches!
The rivalry was put to rest when Mater Dei moved from Class 3A to Class 2A (a team's class is determined by the number of students enrolled and is re-evaluated every two years) after the 2004 season, however expect both teams to come out like gang-busters looking to start the season off with a win.
As every high school team does each year, both Mater Dei and Heritage Hills take the field with new faces. For Heritage Hills, the most notable change will be on the sidelines as Todd Wilkerson takes over as head coach after long time coach Bob Clayton retired last year after leading the team for 34 years and accumulating a stellar 320-74 record which included a state title in 2000 when his quarterback was current Chicago Bears signal-caller, Jay Cutler. What Wilkerson has going for him is that he was a member of Clayton's coaching staff for the past 12 years so expect to see a game plan that still revolves around a strong running game and solid defense that Heritage Hills was known for during the Clayton era.
For Mater Dei, the majority of changes will be in the players who suit up this season. The Wildcats lost 22 players to graduation after last year's state runner-up season including three - seven year starters. Gone are quarterback Dane Mauer, running back Cody Hess, receivers Hunter Owen and Issac Tekoppel, along with the nearly 300 pound Bernie Boots, and defensive backs Ian Hortsman and Shawn Horty to name few.
Returning to the field for the Wildcats are three-fourths of last year's defensive line. Division-1 prospect Ben Polk who anchors the line once again at defensive end after a junior year in which he recorded 41 tackles, 24 for losses, and 10.5 sacks. Along side Polk are returning players Dakota Richardt and Nathan Wright.
Also returning are Jace Hartz, last year's backup quarterback who will more than likely be the Wildcats starter, Alex Schneider and Nolan Goebel, both of who filled in nicely last year for Cody Hess when he needed a breather, or when the team clearly had the game in hand. Despite the new faces, if there's anyone who can get the most out of a team, it's head coach Mike Goebel who enters his 17th season as head coach with a 148-46 record. I fully expect to see the same Mater Dei game plan I've seen in the past which centers on a balanced running and passing game along with a quick, aggressive defensive scheme.
Heritage Hills also have a number of players returning from last year's squad including quarterback Justin Hedinger, and six foot, 225-pound senior Jared Boehm who plays both offensive guard and defensive tackle and is listed as one of Indiana Football Digest's "Prime Time 25" senior players.
It should be a great game tonight as these two storied programs take the field for 7:00pm kick-off. The forecast calls for clear skies and un-August-like temperatures in the upper-60's, lower 70's. If you can't make it to the game, catch all the action on our sister-station, Newstalk 1280AM, or listen live online at Newstalk1280.com.