It's either win or go home from here on out as the State Tournament begins this weekend with the first round of Sectionals.

After a great game which saw them lose to their west side rivals, the Mater Dei Wildcats by a score of 14-16, and end the regular season with a record of 6-3, the Reitz Panthers turn their focus to the Owen Valley Patriots who enter the Reitz Bowl Friday night with a regular season record of 5-4 after ending their season with a 20-33 loss at Greencastle last Friday.

Full disclosure, when it comes to the State Tournament, finding info on the opponents of our local teams can be difficult as many of them come from smaller towns in other parts of the state and the coverage of their games can be scarce. Not seeing these teams play week in and week out, or catching highlights on the local news also makes it difficult to know what our local teams can expect. This leaves us to rely on comments from local coaches, or stats we can scrounge up online. As is the case with Owen Valley.

What I have been able to determine is that for a Class 4A school, Owen Valley (located in Spencer, Indiana, roughly 30 minutes northwest of Bloomington) fields a small team with a roster of 43 players, only 11 of which being seniors. Reitz on the other hand boasts a roster of 74, with 22 seniors on board. Right off the bat, this tells me that conditioning and endurance could become an issue for the Patriots as the game enters the latter part of the second half.

In a brief conversation to set up our weekly interview, Coach Andy Hape told Play-by-Play man, Jimmie Ford, the Patriots like to stack the line of scrimmage with extra defenders to stop the run leaving only a few players back to defend the pass. It's a good strategy against a Panthers' team who have put an emphasis on a stout rushing attack that has racked up impressive average of just under seven yards per carry this season as a team. Senior DeWayne Esters alone has attributed 917 of those yards on 153 carries, while junior Malik Higgins has added an additional 753 yards on only 68 carries.

The problem with that strategy is that if they are able to contain the run, Reitz has two excellent receivers in seniors Jordan Summers and the aforementioned Malik Higgins. Two speedy receivers that almost demand double-coverage by opponents in order to keep them in check. Esters is also a threat out of the backfield on designed screen passes or as a check down option for Austin Reagan in the event Owen Valley is able to put some pressure on the senior QB.

Reitz will be only the second Class 4A school Owen Valley has played this season. The first being Northview who handed the Patriots a 16-33 loss in week five. Not knowing the quality of the opponents they did beat this year, it's hard to for me to say whether or not Reitz will provide the Patriots their toughest test of the season. However, having seen the Panthers play numerous times, I can tell you it won't be a cake walk for Owen Valley by any stretch of the imagination.

Hear it all play out live from the Reitz Bowl Friday evening on Newstalk 1280, and online at with pregame at 6:30 and kick off at 7:00.

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