This week's 44 Blitz Game of the Week is going to be one heck of a showdown, as SIAC rivals, Mater Dei and Castle go at it. Here's a preview.
"Typical Coach Goebel-coached football team," said Mater Dei head coach Mike Goebel. "They're going to be hard-nosed. They play the game the right way. They're physical. They're tough. They always come out prepared, ready to play. They're kids are aggressive fundementally so sound."
When it comes to quality high school football in Southwest Indiana, it doesn't get much better than Castle and Mater Dei. Two teams that are built in their respective coaches, Doug Hurt's and Mike Goebel's image. The Knights opened the season last week with a hard-fought 25-12 victory over North, paced by the multi-dimensional Evan Pritchard. For Hurt, it was a "w", but knows his team is capable of even better.
"The big thing is getting a win," said Hurt. "I don't think you're ever happy as a head coach on how you played. You're always critical and looking at things that could get you beaten down the road. And for us, down the road is this week if we don't clean them up. Thought are kids played hard. We've got things to clean up. But you're happy any time you make mistakes and still get the "w"."
Meanwhile, Goebel's squad is coming off a similar opening night victory over Central. While the Wildcats misfired at times against the Bears, there were still moments of diamond purity on both sides of the ball in the 24-14 win.
"We did show up to play, and I thought we were intense most of the game," said Goebel. "Central's a very physical team. They're very talented. In a battle of attrition we both fought through to the end and we were fortunate to get the win."
"We were pretty slow the first quarter," said Mater Dei senior offensive lineman/defensive lineman Nick Boots. "We weren't really getting off the ball. Halftime it's 14-14. We just pushed through and our line. I'm pretty proud of them. Our receivers started catching the ball. We came together as a team in the second half."
"It was a whole team effort," said Mater Dei junior running back/linebacker Joey Pierre. "'Everyone was playing hard on both sides of the ball. Line was blocking, receivers running good routes, catching balls. Quarterback was throwing a good ball. We could run the ball. Play good defense and get some stops."
The Wildcats and the Knights. What is it about this rivalry? It's not about classification. The Knights play in one of the biggest classifications in the state, while Mater Dei is one of the smallest. It's not about proximity. The two areabout as far apart as they can be and still in the original SIAC. What is about is mutual respect and admiration.
"If you go back in the last ten years," says Hurt, "just some great back-and-forth battles. Seems like it's always close. They've won some and we've won some, and we have a lot of respect for Coach Goebel and Coach Knight and their program. We get after each other on Friday night, and I think the rest of the way cheer for each other down the road."
"I'd say that's correct," said Goebel. "We've got the greatest respect for Doug and his program. They're offense is a really wide-open offense. They get defenses guessing with the number of formations and things. But in the end, it's the Jimmies and Joes. They've got a great quarterback in Tilley and running back in Guerzinni, a number of good receivers. But their line is always, always Doug Hurt-strong."
Joe Downs will be live from John Lidy Field in Newburgh leading up to kick-off for our 44Blitz Game of the Week.