High School Football Game of the Week Preview – Mater Dei vs Central
With two weeks left in the regular season, the Mater Dei Wildcats look to put a death grip on the city and conference titles as they head up North First Avenue to take on the Central Bears.
Normally, this game would have taken place during week two, but due to new regulations by the Indiana State High School Athletics Association (IHSAA) that "encourage" schools to get their two non-conference games out of the way in the first two weeks of the regular season, the teams were forced to move to week eight.
It's been an up-and-down season for the Bears who, on paper, entered the season with one of the more potent offenses in the area with returning starters including running back Avion Sullivan, quarterback Austin Fuchs, and wide receiver, Jalen Pemberton to name a few.
After starting the season on a three game winning streak that saw them put an unbelievable average of 59 points on the board, the Bears stumbled in weeks four and five, losing to both Reitz and Castle respectively by over 20 points each. A 63-21 blowout of Harrison in week six put them back on track before a narrow 34-31 win against Memorial last week gave them a 5-2 record heading into their showdown with the Wildcats.
While the offense for the Bears seems to be clicking (minus the Reitz and Castle games), it's the defense that seems to be a bit suspect for Central. Where the offense has been fortunate to return numerous starters, the defense on the hand has returned very few, relying on a core of younger players to keep opponents from scoring. Over the course of the first seven games, they've given up an average of nearly 38 points, a sure sign of a defense still trying to find its identity.
They'll need to stay focused on disciplined when the Wildcats enter Central Stadium Friday night. A team traditionally known for heavy reliance on the passing game, Mater Dei has found much of its success this season on the legs of senior Nolan Goebel, who last week against an up-and-coming Bosse Bulldogs team rushed for over 200 yards for the second week in a row, and put the ball in the end zone four times...before the first half was over.
Regardless of who's in the backfield, both Logan McCann and Julian Weidner have lined up behind senior QB, Chase Hoehn on several occasions, the Wildcats have had little trouble running the ball up the middle, or around the outside thanks in large part to a large offensive line who have manhandled the defensive linemen who have been paired up against them, and a receiving corp who take blocking defensive backs as seriously as they do running routes.
One thing the Wildcats' stout defense lacks is speed. Traditionally, it's never been a strong suit for any Mater Dei team on either side of the ball. It's a weakness the Bears will need to focus on in order to pick up the win at home and hand the Wildcats their first loss of the season.
Hear how it all plays out on Newstalk 1280, and online at Newstalk1280.com with pregame at 6:30, and kickoff at 7pm.