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High School Football Game of the Week Preview – Reitz Versus Mater Dei

High School Football - Reitz vs. Mater Dei Header
(flickr, ElvertBarnes / Facebook)

Two teams out to prove they’re the best of the west (side) meet under the lights this Friday night at the Reitz Bowl.

The regular season concludes with the age old rivalry pitting the Reitz Panthers against the Mater Dei Wildcats. Think of it as the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s only on a football field. While both teams respect the other’s ability, there is no love loss between the two.

Full disclosure, as a Mater Dei alum (Class of ’95), this is the game every fan has circled on the calendar each year. I assume the same to be true for those that support the blue and gray. In my opinion, even if both teams entered this game without a single win, the fan base for whichever team comes out victorious would consider the season a success.

Obviously, both teams coming in winless will not be the case this year. Mater Dei saw their undefeated streak snapped for the second consecutive year by the Castle Knights, losing last week’s match up in Newburgh by a score of 35-21. On the other side, Reitz comes in riding a four game win streak after an uncharacteristic 1-4 start.

This game has several ways it can be defined. It can be viewed simply as the battle of the only two west side high schools, but for those involved (fans, players, coaches, etc.) it’s more. It’s David versus Goliath, public school versus private school, it’s a battle for bragging rights (not to mention the West Side Nut Club trophy).

An outsider not familiar with either team would more than likely label Mater Dei the underdog based solely on school size. But those of us from the area who follow high school football, even those that don’t follow it closely, know nothing could be further from the truth. Regardless of their class, the two teams aren’t that different when you look at the tale of the tape.

Since opening up the passing game and letting quarterback Drew Johnston throw the ball down field more frequently over the past few weeks, leading to the emergence of Jordan Summers, Malik Higgins, and Kenny Hansen as legitimate receiving threats, the Panthers have forced defenses to prepare for the possibility of the deep ball opposed to packing the line of scrimmage in an effort to focus solely on senior running back, Ke’Andre Vaughn.

The Wildcats look to extend their win streak over Reitz to two games after defeating the Panthers last year for the first time since 2004 by a score of 38-14, and undoubtedly enter Friday night’s game with a chip on their shoulder after last week’s lost to Castle. A game that saw them lose the battle between their normally stout defensive line and the Knights’ offensive line. It was also a game that saw Mater Dei drop more defenders in coverage in an effort to stop from getting beat by the speedy Castle receivers. Look for the Wildcats to return to their game plan of scoring quickly and scoring early so they can turn their defense loose on the Reitz offense and pressure Johnston.

I expect it to be a packed house at the Bowl Friday night. And whether you go to the game or not, you can catch every snap on Newstalk 1280AM and online at Newstalk1280.com with play-by-play from Jimmie Ford and color commentary provided by yours truly. Pre-game begins at 6:30 with kickoff at 7pm.

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