Mater Dei picked to win semistate in a close one


No. 1 MATER DEI (13-0) at No. 6 MONROVIA (11-2), 2:30 p.m. CST Saturday
And then there was one…Mater Dei is the lone SIAC team still standing. Making their fourth Class 2A semistate appearance in the past five years, the Wildcats must try to contain Monrovia’s vaunted rushing attack if they want to have a chance to advance to Lucas Oil for the first time since 2011. Boasting three 1,000-plus rushers, the Bulldogs are 250 yards away from tying the single-season state record for rushing yards. Mater Dei has two 1,000-yard rushers of its own in Julian Weidner and Drayke Richardt. The teams last met in a regional in 1989, with Mater Dei coming away with the win. Monrovia runs a Wing-T offense like Southridge, but is a far superior team to the Raiders. Mater Dei hopes its more diversified attack with make the difference in the end. It should be a nail-biter.

Prediction: Mater Dei 28, Monrovia 24.

Last week: 2-0.
Overall: 48-8.

Thanks for reading.

–Gordon Engelhardt

Mater Dei predicted to advance to 2A semistate


No. 5 REITZ (11-1) at COLUMBUS EAST (12-0), 7 p.m. CST Friday
It’s sort of like old home week for Bob Gaddis and Andy Hape, who was an all-state offensive lineman playing for Gaddis at Reitz in the early 1990s. In recent years Hape had recruited some of Gaddis’ Columbus East players when Hape was an assistant at Earlham and Franklin College. Both have a wealth of respect for each other and each other’s standout running backs. Columbus East’s Markell Jones, who is headed for Purdue, has rushed for 3,072 yards rushing and scored an even more amazing 53 touchdowns. He is second in the state in rushing and first in scoring with 318 points.
Reitz’s Malik Higgins’ 1,819 yards rushing (14th in the state) and 23 scores seem tame by comparison. Gaddis joked that he’s been dreaming (having nightmares) about Higgins, who has been offered a scholarship by Ball State. Jones’ numbers are unreal, partly because he is running behind such a dominating O line. The Panthers surrendered 38 points to Jasper in their sectional championship game win, which could prove problematic against Columbus East. The defending state champion and ground-oriented Olympians were averaging 59.5 points before defeating East Central 28-9 in the sectional title game last week. Columbus East beat Reitz 35-21 in the 2012 regional at the Bowl. Reitz QB Paul McIntosh ran wild in the 2007 regional, leading the Panthers to a 61-60 win, also at the Bowl. If Reitz wins, it would either host Indianapolis Roncalli or play at No. 2 New Palestine in the semistate. John Harrell’s website predicts a 45-24 Columbus East victory.

My prediction: Columbus East 48, Reitz 35

No. 3 TRITON CENTRAL (11-1) at No. 1 MATER DEI (12-0), 7 p.m. CST Friday
Even though Wildcat slotback Julian Weidner is averaging 10.0 yards per carry in gaining 1,214 yards rushing, he was never truly at full speed until last week, due to a lingering groin injury. Entering last Friday’s 28-9 sectional final win over North Posey, Weidner had just 62 receiving yards all season. He had five catches for 114 yards against the Vikings, which bodes well for Mater Dei entering the regional, which could use all the diversity it can get. Wildcat coach Mike Goebel compared Triton Central’s Jonah Thacker to former Central standout Avion Sullivan. Thacker has gained 2,189 yards rushing on 309 attempts, a 7.1 average. He has scored 32 rushing TDs. MD routed Triton Central 48-14 in a 2011 regional at the Bowl, but Goebel says this year’s edition of the Tigers is far superior. John Harrell’s website predicts a 28-27 Wildcat victory. If MD wins, it will be on the road in the semistate, either at No. 6 Monrovia or Shenandoah.

My prediction: Mater Dei 24, Triton Central 21.

Last week: 2-0
Overall: 46-8.

Thanks for reading.

–Gordon Engelhardt

Basketball tourney proposal rejected

A proposal to basically cut Class 4A in Indiana high school boys’ and girls’ basketball in half was voted down unanimously (17-0) by the IHSAA Executive Committee on Friday.
The proposal, outlined by the Indiana Basketball Coaches Association in cooperation with the IHSAA and the Indiana Interscholastic Athletic Administrators Association, called for 64 schools to be in 4A and approximately 114 in Classes 3A, 2A and A, beginning with the 2015-16 season.
“I looked at the proposal and what the premise was designed to do and I just didn’t think it in the end benefited the game of basketball and the spectators’ experience with the tournament,” said Paul Neidig, an IHSAA board member from Evansville.
Under the current and continuing format, teams are equally distributed across all four classes with an average of 101 schools in each.
The proposal came about because of the far greater discrepancy in enrollments among the largest and smallest 4A schools, compared to ranges in other classes. The football state tournament was conducted, starting last year, using a similar model, with the top 32 making up Class 6A, with the next 34 making up 5A.
“I do think looking at it with the same lens as football would have been a big mistake,” Neidig said. “In football, you need 11 players on offense and 11 on defense.”
In basketball, you only have five players on the court and a standout player such as a Cody Zeller could help a smaller school beat a much-larger school, Neidig said.
If the basketball proposal had gone into effect, Castle and North still would’ve remained in 4A and would have probably been paired in a sectional with the Terre Haute schools, Neidig said. Central, Harrison and Reitz would’ve gone from 4A to 3A and possibly formed an eight-team sectional with schools such as Bosse, Memorial, Mount Vernon, Boonville, Princeton and Gibson Southern.
The proposal would have only affected basketball.
“I think we need to start looking at things from the perspective of all sports participating (in a four-class system),” Neidig said.
He said it is a mistake to single out basketball and differentiate it from the other sports.
IHSAA commissioner Bobby Cox said in a written statement that several salient points were raised during the conversations and those objectives will be considered during the next reclassification and realignment exercise, which will occur in April 2015.

Reitz, Mater Dei seeking sectional championships


JASPER (10-1) at REITZ (10-1), 7 p.m. Friday
Mater Dei won its revenge game last Friday at Southridge, now it’s Reitz’s turn. Or so the Panthers hope. Losing 17-9 last year at Jasper in the sectional title round, Reitz will get the ‘Cats at the Bowl. There are two major factors in play. 1. Jasper probably hasn’t seen anybody with the game-breaking skills of Malik Higgins. 2. Reitz has proven vulnerable to the run; Central gained 305 yards rushing and North 295 vs. the Panthers. But Reitz still won both games. Jasper will be one of the most physical teams the Panthers have played and a Ben Moore-led ground attack should eat up yards and the clock. And Nolan Ahrens gives the ‘Cats a potent passing game, when necessary. Austin Alles, at 6-foot-3 and 240 pounds is an imposing target at TE and a quality DE. Still, it’s Reitz in a close one. Panthers are ranked No. 5 and Jasper No. 6.

Prediction: Reitz 28, Jasper 21.

MATER DEI (11-0) at NORTH POSEY (8-3), 7 p.m. Friday
While the ‘Cats avenged their sectional championship game loss to Southridge last year last week in the semis, their mission is far from over. Mater Dei is looking for a sectional title, and much, much more. Lance Inkenbrandt leads North Posey’s solid ground game. The Vikings have lost their last six playoff matchups to Mater Dei, dating to 1994, including championship games in 2009, 1998 and ‘94. Wildcats are ranked No. 1.

Prediction: Mater Dei 31, North Posey 14

Last week: 6-0.
Overall: 44-8.

Thanks for reading.

–Gordon Engelhardt