Our 44Blitz Game of the Week is a showdown between an old SIAC power and a new rival making a strong bid for the conference crown, as Mater Dei plays host to unbeaten Jasper.
"We have a lot of stuff to improve on," says Jasper head coach Tony Lewis. "We're still not carrying out our fakes like we should. We're not finishing blocks."
"The message is we better get our feet on the ground and be ready to go," says Mater Dei head coach Mike Goebel. "Quit reading about things and talking about things about how good we are, and actually start playing football."
You can tell a lot about a team by the way their coach reacts to success. Veteran bench bosses Tony Lewis and Mike Goebel, a combined 7-and-1 on the season, have high expectations. Lewis' Jasper Wildcats have blown through their first four opponents on their way to the top spot in the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference, something that doesn't come as surprise to him.
"We knew coming into the season that we had a good senior group," says Lewis. "We've had some good senior leadership from them and the younger guys are falling into line. They've worked pretty hard to put them in position to be 4-and-0. We're not even halfway through the year. So, we've got a lot of games left to play and the meat of our schedule is coming up."
"We've gotten a little better each game," says Jasper senior wide receiver/defensive back Cooper Ewing, "which is our goal, leading up into playoff time. We're just working on that every week."
The small but stingy Jasper defense has gotten the job done, as evidenced by their 27 point margin of victory average. However, its the Wildcat offense that grabbed the headlines, with Isaac Day and Ashton Schuetter running behind a mauling offensive line. This Friday, they'll have to get it done with a new signal caller, with junior Grant toung taking over for an injured senior Will Weinzapfel.
"Grant's like Will, a very smart young man," says Lewis. "He doesn't care about highlights for himself. He wants to get the football who can make plays. He does a great job reading things, option-wise. He's somebody that are kids will rally around."
"He'll step it up," says Jasper senior offensive/defensive lineman Michael Buechler. "I know he will. He did last year when Blake Mann got hurt. He came in, played well.
As for Mater Dei, they find themselves in the unique position of going undefeated a week ago to deperately needing a victory this Friday against Jasper to keep pace in the S-I-A-C race, after to losing to Memorial 29-15, last Friday.
"We got out-played," says Goebel. "They were hungrier I think on Friday night. They played with more heart and determination and we have toi learn from that and be ready to go. It's not the end of the season, but it was, for us, a disappointing evening. For Memorial, I know they're very happy with their victory. They deserve it."
"I don't think we had the right mindset coming in. I think we need to stay level-headed," " says Mater Dei senior wide receiver/defensive back J.T. Mayer
"We let things happen," says Jasper senior offensive/defensive lineman James Ralph. "We were more accepting of things. We weren't being as physical as we should have been. We went out there and laid an egg. We didn't play how we should have. It's upsetting, but we're going to move on to the next week."
And that means trying to slow down a Jasper option run game that has put up nearly 44 points per game.
"The misdirection," says Goebel. "The excellent play fakes. It's hard to follow for our guys on defense. We don't really see that much of that type of offense during the regular season."
"They're very explosive," says Ralph. "They've got a lot of good backs there and they have a good physical line too. So we're expecting another hard, physical game at the Reitz Bowl."