High School Football Game of the Week – Reitz vs Owen Valley
After a solid outing against Seymour to open Sectional play on the road, the Reitz Panthers come home for a semifinal game against the visiting Owen Valley Patriots.
At this stage of the tournament, our Evansville area teams will find themselves playing teams from smaller areas of the state, as is the case with Owen Valley who hail from Spencer, Indiana; a town of roughly 2,500 people. The high school falls into Class 4A due to the fact that it's the only high school in the area. Meaning that since it's the only game in town, the enrollment is enough to put them in a higher class.
This also makes it difficult to preview games due to the lack of coverage given to these kind of teams because of where they are located. Spencer does have a newspaper, however their website requires a subscription to see anything.
Here's what I do know. During the regular season, the only Class 4A team Owen Valley plays is Northview, a team they haven't beaten since 2008. The rest of their schedule includes teams from Class 2 and 3A, and one team from Class 1A. Despite having an 8-2 record themselves, the combined record of their regular season opponents this season is 38-52.
They find themselves making the two hour trip to the Bowl after just edging out the Boonville Pioneers 28-21 to open Sectional play. This will be the Braves second straight year of facing the Panthers after drawing them to open last year's Sectional. A game they lost 38-0.
Owen Valley does have some size across the line with a few players standing over six feet tall and tipping the scale between 250 and 290 pounds. That size will come in handy defensively if they hope to contain any rush attempts the Panthers try up the middle, and offensively it should provide their QB time to find an open receiver. A task that won't be easy considering how smothering the Reitz secondary has been all season.
If the Panthers have a weakness, it's their tendency to be a bit too aggressive on defense from time to time. As we saw in the game against Central in week four. In that game, Reitz brought the house on numerous occasions leaving the middle of the field wide open which allowed the Bears to pick up big yards on runs up the middle and short screens or dump off passes. If Owen Valley's offensive line can hold back the pressure and get some key blocks on the outside from wide receivers, the Patriots have the opportunity to move the ball and more importantly eat up clock, keeping the Panthers offense off the field.
Fortunately for Reitz, their offense doesn't need much time to put points on the board as we also saw in the game against Central. Malik Higgins is a threat to find the end zone every time he touches the ball regardless of whether he takes it from the running back position or as a wide receiver. So far on the season, he's racked up 2,137 total yards, 1,631 on the ground, while finding pay dirt 27 times.
While Higgins is the Panthers' biggest scoring threat, he's not their only one. QB Evan Deig has been impressive all season, passing for 1,600 yards and 25 touchdowns through the air.
While the deck certainly seems stacked against the Patriots of Owen Valley, the beauty of high school football, and sports in general is that anything can happen on any given Friday night, and if they can figure out a way to counteract the Panthers offense when they're on the field and subdue their defense, they could come out of the Bowl with a win.
Due to contractual obligations with the Evansville IceMen on ESPN Evansville 105.3, you can hear this game in its entirety on our sister-station, Newstalk 1280 WGBF-AM, and online at Newstalk1280.com with pregame at 6:30, and kick off at 7:00.