It's the north side versus the west side under the lights Friday night.

Since Central head coach, Andy Owen took over for his dad, Mike Owen back in 2007, three of the past five match ups between the Central Bears and the Mater Dei Wildcats have been decided by five points or less with Central needing overtime to come out on top in 2007 and 2009. The last two meetings have ended in Mater Dei victories including last season's 49-6 win by the Wildcats. It was the most lopsided victory by either team since 2001 when Mater Dei blanked the Bears 41-0.

Much like Mater Dei last week, the Bears lost their fair share of players to graduation. Most notably, last year's starting quarterback, Jacob Hester who finished his career at Central as the second-leading passer in school history with 7,487 yards. 2,740 of those (along with 24 touchdowns) came last year as Hester led the Bears to a 7-6 record and their second Sectional title ever. The Bears season came to an end in the regional game against a talented Columbia East team led by Gunner Keil who will play his college ball at Notre Dame. Hester has since taken his talents to DePauw University, a Division III school in Greencastle, IN. He is listed on this year's roster as a quarterback.

Filling Hester's shoes is Junior Austin Fuchs, a player Owen and his staff has been high on since his days on the junior varsity squad. In his debut as the Bears quarterback last Saturday against Marion County, Kentucky in the Forcht Bank Bowl, Fuchs , a starting safety last year who also saw some action at wide receiver in the playoffs, finished the day with 14 completions on 28 attempts for 173 yards in the Bears convincing 55-16 win. A victory fueled in large part by Bear newcomer, Chris Walker-Glenn who rushed for two touchdowns as well as returning a fumble and kickoff back for scores.

Friday night at home, they'll face a Mater Dei defense who wrecked havoc on a Heritage Hills offense last week in a 34-7 win at the Reitz Bowl. In a game heard on Newstalk 1280, the Wildcats' defense caused and recovered two fumbles while also intercepting a pass from Patriots quarterback Jared Hedinger. Turnovers that Senior Jace Hartz, who was also filling some pretty big shoes left behind by Dane Mauer, capitalized on in his debut as the Wildcats starting quarterback throwing 11 completions on 20 attempts for 209 yards and four touchdowns. He also ended the game as the Wildcats leading rusher with 54 yards. The victory moves Mater Dei from number two to number one in the state in Class 2A.

I expect it to be another classic match up between two Evansville teams that should be considered front runners for this year's Southern Indiana Athletic Conference (SIAC) title. You can catch the game live in its entirety on Newstalk 1280 with pregame at 6:30pm and kick off at 7:00.


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