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2011 SIAC Previews & Predictions!

AHHHH! Indiana High School football is right around the corner and for the College Gridiron, that means lots of talk about the SIAC, or the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference. Yours truly is an alumni of the SIAC which is why I talk about it here along with college football and the NFL. It’s more of a fun thing for me to do and if any of you out there are from Southern Indiana or the Evansville, IN area then hopefully you find this fun. The SIAC is a conference in Indiana based in Evansville. The eight high schools that make up the conference are all from Evansville except for Castle which is a high school based in Paradise, IN which is basically Newburgh, IN. Indiana HS football is divided in 5 classes with Class A being the smallest high schools and Class 5A being the biggest in the state. The SIAC broken down by class gives us:

Class 5A: Castle, North
Class 4A: Central, Harrison, Reitz
Class 3A: Bosse, Memorial
Class 2A: Mater Dei
Class A: n/a

The 2010 season was a very good one for the SIAC. The conference has recently been dominated by the west side schools, Reitz & Mater Dei. Last year was no different as Reitz ended the regular season 9-0 with a perfect 7-0 SIAC record. Reitz would go on to win the sectional and regional to run their record to 13-0 before falling to Indianapolis Cathedral in the semi-state in an attempt to defend their 2009 Class 4A state championship. Mater Dei went 8-1 in the season & 6-1 in the SIAC with their only loss coming to Reitz. They too won the sectional & regional running their record to 12-1 before losing to North Putnam in the semi-state. These two schools were obviously the class of the SIAC by a significant margin.

The SIAC also got a great season out of Central who finished the year 7-2 with their only losses coming to Reitz & Mater Dei. Unfortunately for the Bears, they play in the same sectional as Reitz, but they did get to play 2 sectional games before playing Reitz in the sectional championship. Central lost that game and finished the season 9-3 which was a very successful season. Class 3A Bosse also had a great season. The Bulldogs didn’t have the best of regular seasons going 2-7 and 1-6 in the SIAC, but when they got to the post season, they came alive by defeating powerful teams in Evansville Memorial & Washington to win a sectional title. The Bulldogs would virtually give away a regional championship which did string quite a bit, but finishing the year 5-8 had to feel like a massive success despite the overall W-L record. I thought Castle would be one of the better teams in the SIAC, but they floundered coming out of the gate with 2 losses. The Knights finished the season at 3-6, but then caught fire, a la Bosse, in sectional play and won 3 straight. Also like the Bulldogs, Castle gave up the regional, but finished 6-7 in what has to be a decent year for the SIAC. Overall the conference win 4 sectional titles (the most they can win) and 2 regional titles.

There were disappointments. Evansville Harrison ended a 31-game losing streak that reached back to 2006 by beating West Vigo 3-0 to start the year, but then promptly lost their next 9 giving them a 1-40 record in their last 41 games! Evansville North is one of the Class 5A schools in the conference, but ended the year 2-8 which is an absolute embarrassment when you consider how much bigger they are than other schools in the conference. It’s hard to think Evansville Memorial was a disappointment. They had gotten to state championship games in 2008 & 2009 and had to give their starting QB duties to a sophomore. Memorial ended the season at 5-4, but really they lost to teams they were supposed to lose to in Jasper, Reitz, Mater Dei & Central. What Memorial has done in recent years is struggle through the SIAC and then dominate in the postseason because they are in Class 3A. That actually looked like it was about to happen, but Bosse pulled a stunner and beat Memorial in the sectional championship leaving Memorial with a 7-5 record to finish the season. If Memorial beats Bosse, they likely get to semi-state and possibly a 3rd straight year playing for the Class 3A state championship. Because of this gaffe in the sectional title game, 2010 has to be considered somewhat disappointing for Memorial.

There you have it! The start of the season starts on August 19th which is 3 weeks away! Who’s going to win the SIAC this year!!?? Let’s review the teams!

Bosse Bulldogs (Last Year = 5-8; 7th place SIAC; Sectional Champs)

Bosse is coming off an amazing 5-8 season that doesn’t look great when you consider they were 3-games under .500, but a closer examination reveals quite a season. Bosse didn’t fair too well in the SIAC needing a regular season finale 40-28 win over Harrison to avoid the conference basement, but that is where the real fun began. Bosse hammered an over matched Pike Central team 83-23 before traveling to Washington to take on the #12 Hatchets. Bosse didn’t disappoint coming away with a 35-28 victory to put them into the sectional championship against #17 Memorial. Memorial had beaten Bosse earlier 34-15, but the Bulldogs returned the favor, beating the Tigers 21-14 to earn their first sectional championship since 1995 & only the 4th in school history! Regionals saw Bosse give up 21-points off turnovers in a 45-35 loss to #7 Indian Creek, but ending the season 5-8 with a sectional championship is a huge accomplishment.

In recent times Bosse has had some problems getting enough kids to play. This obviously brings up depth issues, but last year the Bulldogs really benefited from having excellent skill position players. They bring back QB Jalen Pendleton (2,700 passing yards, 70% completion rating, 22TD, 9INT, 618 rushing yards, 12 rushing TD), but lose their big 3 play makers in RB Jordan Diggs (1,215 rush yards, 7TD, 518 rec yards, 3TD), RB Daryll Killebrew (791 rush yards, 7TD, 734 rec yards, 4TD) & WR Colin Bridges (761 rec yards, 9TD). WRs Stanley Trice & Josiah Cavanaugh are gone too meaning outside of Pendleton, the Bulldogs have NOBODY coming back. Sophomore Carrington Crutcher, who saw time as a freshman, will likely takeover at tailback. I don’t know who will take over at receiver. I’m guessing guys like Jalen Hall, Devin Wiley & maybe Leonard Baker get some action at wideout. Bosse’s offensive line should be OK. They’ll average around 6’2/255lbs which is pretty good at the high school level. Todd Elliott & Kyle Fleming gives the Bulldogs a couple of guys pushing 300lbs in the trenches. Bosse averaged 30.8ppg last year, but it’s difficult to imagine them repeating those offensive numbers with so much loss at the skill positions.

Defensively the Bulldogs have more pieces back. Avion Jones, Jalen Pendleton, Donald Hardy & Todd Flemming all return. The defense wasn’t great last season giving up 35.8ppg, but at least there are some players back. Bosse lost their 2 best defensive players in Landon Langley & Erik Zack, but I’d expect the 6’6/220lbs DE Blake Norton to potentially be a game changing type of player on the edge. He certainly does have the size to dominate off the edge, but now it will be a question of whether he can or not. Head Coach Andy Weinzapel did an incredible job down the stretch last season. He’ll have an even more difficult test this year trying to replace all of his offensive skill players save Pendleton & getting better play out of a defense that allowed 36ppg & also lost its two best defenders.

After what the Bulldogs achieved last season, I’m not counting them out of anything, but a lot of work needs to be done if Bosse wants to repeat as Class 3A Sectional 24 Champions. Offensively the Bulldogs have Jalen Pendleton & an entirely new cast of characters. Like last season, they’ll be a bit undersized, but that could translate into more of a spread-speed like attack that could work to their benefit. Defensively, Bosse has more pieces in play. Hopefully Blake Norton can be the force that combines strength & size that Bosse clearly lacks. Bosse surprised a lot of people last season when they got to the postseason. They won’t surprise anybody this year, but they might be even better than the 2010 version.

Castle Knights (Last Year = 6-7, 5th Place SIAC, Sectional Champs)

Castle had a seaon somewhat like Bosse had. You’d have to think the 2010 campaign was a success because the Knights walked away with a sectional championship despite playing the regular season at a 3-6! That was only one game better than Bosse’s 2-7 mind you. Still, the Knights got into sectional play and played some inspired football as they beat Bedford North Lawrence before giving Jennings Co. and humiliating defeat to play Floyd Central for the Class 5A Sectional Championship. It took them 2OT to do it, but Castle came out ahead 45-44. They did face another 6-6 team in Bloomington North in regionals, but game up short 21-17. Castle won it’s 9th Sectional Title in school history, and it’s 2nd in the last 3 years. They came close to winning their first regional since 1994. Obviously it’s been awhile since the Knights were a seriously elite team in Class 5A.

Castle averaged 29.7ppg last year on offense and obviously the discussion begins and ends with RB Logan Hayford. Hayford set the school’s all time single season rushing record by running for 2,203 yards & 32TD on 341 carries which was good for 6.5ypc. It’s pretty amazing really considering Hayford really wasn’t a college prospect at a very diminutive 5’9/154lbs, but he churned out yards like Barry Sanders in his prime! He leaves Castle as the all-time leading rusher in school history with 3,826 yards. Hayford is arguably the greatest RB in Castle history so replacing him will be downright impossible. No matter what happens, Castle will not have as dynamic a running game as they had in 2010. Gone too is QB Schuyler Cooper. Cooper wasn’t fantastic last year, completing just 56% of his passes for 1,438 yards (9TD:8INT), but he didn’t have to be great given that Hayford was the primary offensive weapon. Castle also loses receivers Trey Smith & Kurt Evans. Despite the mediocre numbers, replacing Cooper might be more difficult than you think. Junior Mitch Gilles got some spot duty last year as a sophomore but was just 21 of 43 (49%) with 6 picks with nary a TD pass! RB Kyle Pitlick has the unfortunate job of following Hayford. Castle does return it’s top receiver in Joe Redburn, but also returns receivers Cameron Parus, Jon-Marc Anderson & Joe Williams. The offensive line should average about 5’11/261lbs which is actually a bit smaller than Bosse’s offensive line! Offensively I think Castle will be down.

Defensively the Knights allowed 30.4ppg which of course isn’t fantastic. However, things could be looking up in Paradise for the Knights defense. Castle returns 9 of their top-13 tacklers including their top-2 in John Beckner & Rayce Thornbury. They do lose their best edge rusher in Morgan Lemond, but Castle does return their other QB sack threat in Mike Vieceli. Castle might have 8 starters back on defense and they actually do match up well as a defense although the unit is fairly small. Beckner & Thornbury are the LBs and are joined there by Austin Warren. They have some DBs in DeAndre Andrews & Tanner Barco. The D-Line is where they might be hurting a bit. Mike Vieceli and Grant Carter should be the DEs most likely. You’d also like to see some guys like Kevin Brown & Chris Couloup step up as edge rushers with their size. Max Nicholson & Kyle Rich could provide some bulk on the interior defensive line.

All in all the Knights are going to have somehow reverse the identity they’ve had the last couple of seasons. The last 2 years Castle has been a run heavy team with Logan Hayford primarily determining how well Castle plays. This year the defense has to become more of a focal point because I don’t think the horses are going to be there offensive to carry the squad. If Castle could only average 29.7ppg with Hayford going for 200 yards a clip then do they score 20ppg without him? Keep in mind that Mitch Gilles at least looks to be a lesser QB than Schuyler Cooper at this point. Sectional #8 in Class 5A is extremely weak with Evansville Reitz now in 4A. Despite Castle’s likely regression in 2011, the only thing really standing in their way is Floyd Central.

Central Bears (Last Year: 9-3, 2nd Place SIAC)

Central is somewhat victimized by the class they are in. Playing alongside Evansville Reitz in recent seasons for the privilege of advancing in the state tournament has been nothing short of an exercise in torture. If Central were in Class 5A, I have no doubts that instead of failing to win a sectional championship, the Bears would have been playing in the Semi-State against Lawrence Central for a shot at a state championship in the highest class in Indiana football! The Bears did exactly what they should have done in 2010. They beat everyone except for Reitz & Mater Dei. That put them in 3rd place in the SIAC. It gave them an overall 7-2 record in the regular season and they reached the sectional finals where they lost to Reitz for the 2nd time ending their year at 9-3. A very good season. Just not good enough.

Offensively Central averaged 32.8ppg which is what you would expect from a team as offensively minded as Central was last year. The Bears had 4 outstanding offensive players in QB Jacob Hester, RB Tyreece Strong, WR Dyris Haywood & WR Alex Barker. Just a junior last season, Hester through for 2,947 yards including 31TD while completing 62.5% of his passes! The 6’1/180lbs soon to be senior isn’t exactly division 1 material but he lit the scoreboard up last year. RB Tyreece Strong actually had a better YPC than Castle’s Logan Hayford at 6.9ypc as he rushed for 1,456 yards & 18TD. WR Dyris Haywood had 1,116 yards receiving while WR Alex Barker came 20 yards short of giving Central 2 1,000 yard receivers! Barker & Haywood combined to catch 25 of Hester’s 31 TD passes! The Bears also lose RB/WR hybrid Justin Williams who had over 600 total yards & 5TD! Unfortunately for Central, they find themselves in a similar situation as Bosse, QB Hester returns, but they lose all of their other skill players! The Bears will most likely have Bryant Hooper, Tevin Miller, Jeff Fingers or David Garrett trying to replace Strong. Garrett is Central leading returning receiver so he might take over Haywood’s spot in the offense. One thing not readily noticeable is how big the skill positions were last year. Haywood was 6’1. Barker was 6’4. Strong was 5’10/180lbs. Central won’t be NEARLY as big as they were last year on the outside. The O-Line should be huge averaging out to 6’3/274lbs! Senior Ryan Greist is 6’8/290lbs! I don’t know why he’s not a big time recruit with that kind of size except that maybe he’s soft as cookies. The only recruit I could find on the national scouting services was OL 6’4 Kyle Neidig. Central certainly has some pieces here. The offensive line might be the best in the SIAC. Hester could very well be the best QB in the SIAC. If they can find people who can step up at the skill, Central might not miss a beat offensively. It’s a lot easier to run behind an all-conference offensive line. It’s a lot easier to catch passes when an all-conference QB is throwing them to you.

Defensively the Bears take on MASSIVE losses. The Bears lose their top-6 tacklers. They lose 7 of their top-8 with the only defensive player returning who was a main part of the unit last year being David Garrett. At 5’9/175lbs, Garrett is a smallish corner at the D1 level, but in high school football maybe he plays LB. The Bears actually have some tremendous size on the team. The average player for the Bears is 5’11/190lbs. If HC Andy Owen wants to play defense according to the size of the boys he has, then he’s got a pretty good unit on the D-Line. Brett Bowman at 6’3/315lbs and Mike Dunn at 6’2/275lbs make for some very big defensive tackles. Bowman also gives Owen some seriously flexibility in his defensive schemes should he turn Bowman into a legitimate 3-4 NT and run some 3-4 schemes. Kyle Neidig at 6’4/240lbs could be a monster off the edge. Owen has a ton of 5’9-5’10 who weigh 160lbs to play in the secondary. There are a lot of 5’10-6’0 guys who weigh 200lbs that could be the LBs. The only problem here would be speed, but Central has the horses to play some unique configurations on defense. Central allowed only 18.6ppg last year which was the 2nd best mark in the SIAC. Given the losses it’s hard to imagine Central having that kind of defense again, but I really like the personnel so this could be an interesting avenue to observe how HC Andy Owen gets the most out of the guys he has.

Really difficult to imagine Central doing better than 9-3 last year given the losses they have and the kind of leadership that goes away with those players. Haywood, Barker & Strong were special talents that won’t be able to be replaced instantaneously by waving around a magic clipboard. With all the hype surrounding Central’s offense, lost in the shuffle was how good the defense really was. I think the defense will be even more apparent this year as the Bears will be breaking in a new fleet of skill players. How well those skill players come together along with how well the head coach uses his personnel on defense will determine how good Central will be in 2011.

Harrison Warriors (Last Year 1-9, 8th Place SIAC)

The worst thing about Harrison is being from Evansville and remember just how dominant an athletic school this used to be. The storyline coming for the Warriors in 2010 was the fact that they had not won a game since 2006 and that the current losing streak was at 31 games meaning Harrison from 2007-2009 was a big fat 0-30! That’s incredible! Now here is something that will absolutely blow your mind away. In that 31-game losing streak, the Warriors BEST CASE record was exactly 0-31! They never had a game decided by 7 points or fewer in a 3+ year span! In fact, if you take Harrison’s record over their last 41 games, their WORST CASE record is 0-41! Their best case? It’s 3-38! Harrison finally broke through in the 2010 season opener against West Vigo with a 3-0 win, but then promptly lost the next 9 games to finish 1-9 on the season and dead last in the SIAC. Admittedly the Warriors were the youngest team in the SIAC by a wide margin, but this era of futility as to be one of the worst eras in Indiana high school football history considering how good Harrison used to be and that this is a Class 4A school. Remember that from 1995-1999 Harrison went 44-13 including 2 sectional championship at the Class 5A level. They were 30-6 from 96-98 and 21-3 from 97-98. Who knows what was in the drinking water with the classes of 2007-2010, but they have to be some of the worst football players the East Side has EVER produced.

Harrison averaged a conference worst 13.9ppg offensively last season. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Harrison has everyone back from that squad. Obviously there will need to be vast improvement to get Harrison back to its winning ways, but the more reps and experience the players get the better off they’ll be. QB Jamey Malvern at 6’0/170lbs is a dual threat QB. Malvern passed for over 1,200 yards and ran for over 700. For the most part he was the entire offense last year outside of WR Aaron Killebrew who caught most of Malvern’s passes. The 5’5/140lbs Killebrew is back this year as well. That fact might tell you quite a bit. This team is extremely small. The average player is 5’9/176lbs which makes Harrison the smallest team in the conference. This is the same high school that produced the 6’7 Calbert Cheaney, the 6’10 Walter McCarty, and the 6’4 Kevin Hardy! RB Jaheid Brockers is 5’9/180 making him one of the bigger players on the team. That’s the extent of the returning offense that made contributions. The O-Line should average around 5’11/246lbs which will be the smallest in the SIAC. Offensively the Warriors should be better. How could they not be? However, it’s a smallish unit that will have to depend heavily on Malvern.

Defensively the Warriors allowed a league worst 36.5ppg and this is where the size disparity will really be felt. The problem with Harrison really is depth and size. If you take their biggest players (which aren’t many) then you have to run them both ways in the trenches. The O-Line has to double as the D-Line and they are simply different positions which require different mindsets. Now throw into the mix that they’ll be overmatched and outsized on both sides of the ball then you can see how fatigue is going to play a huge role in their games meaning Malvern won’t get much protection on offense and the D-Line won’t get any pressure on the opposing QBs or stop the run at the line of scrimmage. Ryan Bertram led the team in tackles last year, but at 5’11/215lbs, Bertram is one of the 5 biggest kids on the team so we are talking about serious size disadvantage here. The Warriors have only 2 players on the roster over 230lbs and nobody on the roster taller than 6’2. The only loss defensively is 6’2/185lbs DE Braje Goines. He was the team leader in sacks and was one of the biggest players on the team. Harrison is going to have to figure a way out of their size problem.

It’s going to be difficult for Harrison to win games this year. That isn’t anything new, but at least this year the Warriors will have a senior laden team that should be quite a bit better than last year’s version. It doesn’t take too much to be better than 1-9 or 1-40 over your past 41 games, but that might not show any results in the W-L column. Harrison’s biggest problem is that their scoring margin is horrific. They didn’t come close to beating any SIAC teams last season so the difference between Harrison and the rest of the conference was so big that even closing that gap by a significant margin still doesn’t get the Warriors close to winning conference games. In an odd way, Harrison is one of the more experienced teams in the SIAC, but HC Brian Lewis is looking at another uphill battle. The good news is that Harrison plays West Vigo at home this season and also opens up a new stadium. Unfortunately that might be all the good news.

Mater Dei Wildcats (Last Year 12-2, 2nd Place SIAC, Regional Champs)

There is nothing to complain about the 2010 season had by the Mater Dei Wildcats. They showed once again that they can not only hang with the bigger schools in the SIAC, but dominate them and keep up their reputation as one of the premier football schools in Indiana’s Class 2A. Coming into the 2010 season the Wildcats had a few question marks regarding QB Dane Mauer & RB Cody Hess, but overall the Wildcats faced challenges from teams like Castle and Central not to mention their somewhat bigger brother on the West Side, the Reitz Panthers. All Mater Dei did was take of business as usual. The private Catholic school hammered everyone in the SIAC outside of Reitz and then made a laughing stock out of the Sectional and Regional before falling to North Putnam in the Semi-State 6-0. Mater Dei finished the season at 12-2 with a best case record of 13-1 and a worst case record of 11-3. Yes, Reitz owned them again, but this was an incredible season by all accounts for the Wildcats.

Offensively Mater Dei brings back its two most important players in QB Dane Mauer and RB Cody Hess. I can’t find complete statistics anywhere on the internet, but from what I have and extrapolating the rest based on averages, Mauer was simply outstanding completing 68% of his passes while throwing 24TD and passing for almost 2,000 yards. The 5’10/170lbs QB can also get it done with his legs having multiple games last season where he rushed for over 100 yards. The 5’8/185lbs Hess set a Mater Dei record for rushing yards in a single season. I have him at rushing for 2,017 yards & 28TD which is just ridiculous! The most amazing thing about Hess is that he averaged 7.8ypc which is getting into Reggie Bush territory. I don’t have hardly anything on Mater Dei’s receivers, but I believe they have 3 primary receivers along with Hess. They are seniors David Euler, Isaak Tekoppel, and Hunter Owen. All 3 receivers are in the 6’0/160lbs range which actually gives Mater Dei quite a bit of height on the outside considering that DBs in the SIAC are running in the 5’8-5’9 category. The best part about Mauer, Hess, Euler, Tekoppel, and Owen? They are all seniors this year giving the Wildcats an incredible advantage at the skill positions. Keep in mind that Mater Dei averaged 34.1ppg last year which was 2nd best in the SIAC. Expect that number to rise. As of this writing it seems as if Mater Dei’s offensive line averages around 5’10/246lbs which makes it the smallest in the SIAC. Typically I’d say that would be significant cause for concern, but with such veteran skill players, the Wildcats might be able to get away with it.

Defensively, Mater Dei allowed just 14.3ppg which was good enough for best defensive team in the conference. I can’t find any statistics involving Mater Dei’s defense and who they lost versus who they have coming back. If the offense is any indication, then Mater Dei should have quite a bit coming back on defense although the size issues will crop back up here. I don’t think Mater Dei has quite the problems that Harrison does in regards to size. I don’t have the complete roster in front of me because the geniuses at the Evansville Courier and Press barely know how to cover sports if they know how to cover it at all. The statistics pages they have on that site are next to terrible which is highly unfortunate for the players in the SIAC and the surrounding conferences. My guess is that Mater Dei might have some problems with size along their lines, but the one main difference between Harrison and Mater Dei is that the Wildcats have a track record of success with smaller lines and they have outstanding skill position players. Remember too that Mater Dei is going to have an incredible offensive team this year. Their defense has to face the offense everyday in practice. This certainly sets up a situation in which the practices are much more difficult on the defense than the actual games.

You have to figure it’s state title or bust for Mater Dei in 2011. With Reitz losing all-world QB Matt McIntosh to Northern Illinois, this could be an excellent opportunity for Mater Dei to get an SIAC title en route to winning a state championship. One thing can be for certain, and it’s that if the Wildcats run into North Putnam again in the Semi-State, they aren’t going to be held to zero points. HC Mike Goebel will figure out a way to put some points on the board. My only questions revolve around the defense, but that might be more out of ignorance than actual question marks. I simply can’t find any data on who Mater Dei has returning. Regardless, the Wildcats should win 12-13 games at an absolute minimum.

Memorial Tigers (Last Year 7-5, 4th Place SIAC)

Memorial from 2008-2009 went 23-7 and made 2 appearances in the Class 3A state championship game. The Tigers were never able to finish the deal and become state champions, but they were incredible years without question. They went 12-2 in the SIAC with both losses coming to Reitz, but remember that Reitz themselves were 24-2 during that span including a 15-0 perfect state championship team in 2009. The Panthers were also 14-0 in SIAC play during those two years. However, that kind of dominance doesn’t typically last forever. Coming into 2010 the Tigers were losing QB Grant Gribbons, RB Ryan Hatler & WR Jon Wandling. To give you an idea of what kind of production was lost, know that Gribbons passed for over 3200 yards & 33TD in 2009. Hatler rushed for over 1200 yards. Wandling had more than 1200 yards receiving. These were significant losses at the most important skill positions. The Tigers were going to put sophomore Dane Hurley under center. Sophomore Alex Wimber would be the primary RB. They didn’t have anyone to replace the 6’3 Wandling. From 2008-2009 the Tigers averaged 31ppg so they obviously had some question marks on offense. Despite all those question marks, Memorial turned in a pretty good season at 7-5, and except for a colossal gag in the Sectional championship game, Memorial most likely wins a Sectional & Regional championship. In fact, as the year progressed, you sort of got the feeling that Memorial might gear up for another run at a state championship in much the same way they did in 2008 & 2009. Memorial wasn’t as good as Reitz, Central & Mater Dei, but for the most part they beat the teams they were supposed to beat and lost to teams they were supposed to lose to except the sectional championship game.

Offensively Memorial averaged 25.8ppg which isn’t that far off from their 2008 and 2009 seasons. QB Dane Hurley really stepped up completing 57% of his passes for 2,104 yards and 17TD. Hurley did throw 12 picks, but remember this kid was a sophomore last year jumping right in as the starting QB. The young QB also acted as the teams primary rusher attempting to run 148 times although he only amassed 259 years. The real RB was Alex Wimber who only rushed 68 times for 287 yards. Memorial simply wasn’t a dynamic offensive team. The primary receivers were TE Steven Scheu, WR AJ Stuckey & WR Bryce Lueken. Scheu was a huge TE at 6’5/220lbs. He was getting some D1 looks, but never really played up to his potential last season. He had 378 receiving yards & 5TD, but it certainly seems like Memorial should have gotten much more out of him. Scheu is now playing his ball at Vanderbilt. The good news for Memorial is that both Hurley & Wimber are back and should be a lot better in their second go around the SIAC, and they’ll only be juniors meaning Memorial has them for 2012. The bad news is that the Tigers lose all their significant receivers including their best player in Scheu. The offensive line should average around 5’10/260lbs which is actually bigger than the 5’10/230lbs they averaged last season. The Tigers will find some receivers and the offense will be better in 2011.

Defensively the Tigers allowed 18.9ppg which was good enough for 3rd best in the SIAC. In fact, last year Memorial was definitely known more for its defensive prowess due to the losses it took on offense. The reputation was well deserved. The Tigers held Jasper to 14 points despite Jasper averaging 33.4ppg. Memorial held Mater Dei to 14 points despite the Wildcats averaging 34.1ppg. They held Reitz to just 25 points although the Panthers averaged 43ppg in all other games. Unfortunately for Memorial, they do have some significant losses on defense. They lose 7 of their top-10 tacklers including leading tackler Sean Yarbrough (5’11/170lbs) and leading sacker Ryan Guerrettaz (5’9/190lbs). Also gone are AJ Stuckey, Trevor DeWeese, AJ Schapker, Jacob Petrig & Louie Durchholz. Zach McCall & Sam Curtis are the two most experienced defensive players returning for Memorial. McCall & Curtis are more LB size within the confines of the SIAC and with the roster, I’m not sure how Memorial is going to have good edge rushers to put pressure on opposing offenses. HC John Hurley is proving to be a pretty darn good coach in his tenure at Memorial. Things don’t look particularly great on the defensive side of the football, but I’d bet on Memorial having a solid defense.

Overall I think it’ll be more of the same for Memorial. Having Hurley & Wimber as juniors is going to help and despite Memorial not being overly tall up front, they are pretty thick. I think Coach Hurley will find some receiving options and the Tigers will get their offense back to what it was from 2008-2009. Defensively is where the real question marks come into play. Memorial had a stout defense last season, but took on significant losses to a unit that carried the squad at times. Even with those question marks, Memorial should once again enter their Class 3A sectional has prohibitive favorites. They’ll most likely have problems once again with Mater Dei, Reitz & Central, but if they can find a way to upend one of two of those squads, the Tigers could put up double-digit wins.

North Huskies (Last Year = 2-8, 6th Place SIAC)

North has fallen on some hard times recently. While they haven’t slumped like Harrison or Bosse has, they’ve neither had much to look forward to either. The one big problem with North when measured against Bosse is that the Bulldogs are showing some real progress despite being in Class 3A and having their school population dwindle. North is currently the only 5A school inside Evansville’s city limits. While North looks a bit better when compared to Harrison, keep in mind that Harrison has also seen its school population plummet a bit. You would think North should have easy times against Bosse & Harrison. They have, but the biggest school in Vanderburgh county routinely gets HAMMERED by less populated schools like Memorial, Reitz, Central & Mater Dei. There really is no excuse for that. The last time North won a non-conference game was 2007 when the Huskies went 9-3. If success is measured by sectional championships, then it has been a decade since the Huskies won one of those. The last regional North won? Try 1995! It’s easy to look at HC Mike Wilson and wonder if the Huskies need a change. If you don’t include Wilson, the average number of years the head coaches of the SIAC have been with their teams is 7-years! This will be Wilson’s 23rd year at the helm for North. The 2nd most tenured coach in the SIAC is Mater Dei’s Mike Goebel who is entering his 15th season. To give you an idea of the futility of the Mike Wilson era, Goebel has amassed 21 more wins in 8 fewer seasons than Wilson. Note also that Wilson has a career record at North that is sub-.500. It makes one wonder how he lasted this long? Unfortunately for Wilson and Huskies Nation, 2011 isn’t going to be any better.

Offensively North averaged 22.8ppg which was the 2nd worst offense in the SIAC ahead of only Harrison’s 13.9ppg. In a conference where teams routinely put up 30+ppg, it’s not going to be a fun season when your offense has a difficult time posting 20ppg. Unfortunately the Huskies take on significant losses from last year’s team. Gone are QB Luke Blankenship & RB Richard Compton. North utilized more of a smash mouth football approach featuring the run, which is probably what they should have done. Compton was a beast coming out of the backfield while Blankenship wasn’t fantastic as a signal caller. I can’t find complete stats for North anywhere, but they were run heavy and Compton gained close to 1,000 yards with 14TD. Compton was a pretty big threat catching balls out of the backfield, but North also loses their top WR in Caleb Kinnaird. RB/WR hybrid Ryan Wickham also graduated. I don’t have any information on who is coming back for North on offense. What’s a bit frustrating to me, and probably for most North fans, is that the physical players look pretty good. North’s offensive line should average around 6’0/255lbs which is pretty big. Junior Trevor Burklow is a load at 6’0/340lbs! If North uses him as an interior linemen he’s going to be a train wrecker for the rush game. He’s also got the size to be a legit 3-4 NT in a 3-4 defense. North should also have some size on the edge. Junior Brock Underwood is a 6’3/180lbs WR that will be a mismatch problem for all SIAC defenses. Juniors Chase Vidall and Carson Stegall are both 6’0/170lbs who could also see some time on the edge. North will have some pieces to work with in 2011, but it’ll be up to Wilson to put them in the right spots. Given the O-Line and some of the potential size at WR, the Huskies would do well to spread things out a bit.

Defensively North wasn’t much better than they were offensively. They allowed 33ppg which was 6th best in the 8-team SIAC. The Huskies take on significant losses here as well. Kyle Holland, DeWayne Williams, Devin Ross & Tyler May were arguably the 4 best defenders the Huskies had last season. All four are gone. In fact, North loses their top-4 tacklers and 6 of their top-7. Only DB Colton Lord was a significant contributor on offense that returns in 2011. I don’t know if North is creative enough to do it, but they have an interesting situation with their D-Line. Trevor Burklow is a DT just waiting to happen. You get the 6’0/270lbs Damon Byers to play the other DT and you have an interior defensive line that averages 6’0/305lbs! Then North could put 6’3/240lbs Marquell Jackson at one DE and 6’3/200lbs Jeff Greenwell at the other DE and turn that D-Line loose! North has plenty of 5’10-5’11/20lbs guys who can fill up LB, and the secondary should be decent. The pieces are there, but it’s up to the coaching staff to get the most out of their ability.

Overall this season will most likely be a brutal one for North. They take on massive losses on both offense and defense without a ton of experience behind them to pick up where the departing seniors left off. The 2011 version is junior heavy meaning a significant amount of players this season had been sophomores last season which likely means a lot of JV ball. The weird thing about North in all of this is that they do have some good size and the physicality of the team is apparent even on paper. You can’t really tell how fast a player is or how strong he is without seeing tons of game film or lots of workout footage, but I’d bet that North will be a fairly athletic team. That’s the great news. The bad news is that this coaching staff has done nothing to inspire confidence and you have to wonder if the entire coaching staff shouldn’t get their pink slips immediately. Expect few wins. Very few.

Reitz Panthers (Last Year = 13-1, SIAC Champs, Regional Champs)

Reitz had yet another magical season in 2010 falling just a game short of defending their Class 4A State Championship they won in 2009. There certainly is no shame in losing to Indianapolis Cathedral. The Irish went on to win the 4A championship, and had Reitz defeated Cathedral, my guess is Reitz would have been celebrating their 3rd state championship in 4 years. Cathedral and Reitz have been trading state championships in Class 4A since 2006. Cathedral has taken the even years while Reitz has claimed the odd. The Panthers are easily one of the very best football programs in the state of Indiana and I think they’ll continue their dominance of the SIAC for a few more years yet. Reitz absolutely obliterated all competition within the SIAC. In fact you can make an argument that Reitz really never faced any significant competition until they met Cathedral in the 4A Semi-State. Jasper was the #3 team in Class 4A going into the state playoffs and Reitz beat them 47-20 in the first round of sectionals. Keep in mind that Jasper had to that point only given up 50 points all season! What might be even more significant is what was left. QB Matt McIntosh is one of the best QBs to ever don the Reitz uniform. Maybe the best ever. He’ll be playing his ball at Northern Illinois this year. WRs Hamilton Carr and Cuda Dimmett had special seasons. They’re gone too. The Panthers have been on an incredible run for what seems like a decade. Can they keep the good times rolling? It certainly seems so.

Offensively Reitz averaged 41.5ppg, by far the best in the SIAC. A TON of that offense resided in QB Matt McIntosh. McIntosh was a tremendous dual threat QB. He completed 63% of his passes en route to throwing for 2,214 yards and 29TD. If that wasn’t enough, McIntosh also rushed for 1,184 yards and 14TD while averaging 7.9ypc! That’s accounting for 3,400 yards and 43TD! Amazingly enough, McIntosh didn’t lead the team in rushing. That title belongs to KeAndre Vaughn who rushed for 1,329 yards and 13TD while averaging 8.3ypc! We can get caught up in Logan Hayford, Tyreece Strong and Cody Hess all we want to, but when you look at YPC, then Vaughn outshines them all. Reitz simply didn’t need to feed him the ball 30 time a game to score. Want another 1,000 yard guy? Look no further than WR Hamilton Carr who caught 58 balls for 1,145 yards with 12TD. Cuda Dimmett, Nathan Tidwell and Austin Schapker combined to catch 81 balls for 1,262 yards and 14TD. Reitz had weapons all over the place. McIntosh, Carr and Dimmett are gone but the other players return. The big question for Reitz is who will replace McIntosh, and it seems like the 6’4/190lbs Tidwell will be that guy. Apparently he has a cannon for an arm, but I think Drew Johnston could get into this mix as well. He’s more of a runner than Tidwell and this could allow Tidwell to split wide with Schapker who is 6’2/170lbs himself. With Vaughn in the backfield, it certainly gives Reitz an incredible offensive look. The O-Line should average about 6’2/260lbs which is pretty big in the SIAC. I can’t see this offense being bad. Will it be as good as last season’s? Of course not. Replacing McIntosh is too difficult, but this team will score a lot of points.

Reitz was a very sold defensive team. They allowed 20.1ppg last year, but some of that was due to the 56 they allowed against Cathedral. You take the Cathedral game away and Reitz allowed only 17.3ppg which would have been 2nd best in the SIAC. Reitz takes on some losses from last year, but it’s not that bad. Cuda Dimmett led the team in tackles and he’s gone. Hamilton Carr was also a very good defender and he’s gone as well. Don’t forget what a loss DE/LB Brandon Kemp will be either. Kemp was a 6’3/230lbs edge rusher for the Panthers and that makes a huge difference at the prep level with that kind of size. Still, it really looks as if the defense will be a core strength of the football team. Paired with the potential on offense, and you have a recipe for another state championship run. Returning are Maurice McRae, Aaron King, Mason Schnarr, Travis Boyle, Kameron Harris, and Rion Irvine. That is a core-6 players. McRae (5’9/215lbs) and Schnarr (6’1/202lbs) led the team in sacks last year with 9.5 and 6.5 respectively. Travis Boyle (5’9/146lbs) added in 4.5 of his own. Harris (6’0/209lbs) was 3rd on the team in tackles for loss. A guy I’m looking forward to seeing if he can make a contribution in his junior season is Kurt Nelligan. The 6’3/230lbs junior didn’t get any stats last year as a sophomore, but when you see what kind of damage Brandon Kemp was able to do last season, Nelligan seems like an automatic replacement along the D-Line. Losing Kemp, Carr & Dimmett hurts, but this defense is shaping up to be a nasty bunch with more than enough returning firepower to keep teams from scoring.

At this point the pieces are simply interchangeable at the Reitz Bowl. McIntosh is gone, but I think Tidwell or Johnston fills in nicely. Carr and Dimmett are gone, but Austin Schapker is going to turn into the #1 WR for the Panthers and do a fantastic job. The offensive line might actually be better than last season’s and KeAndre Vaughn will still be toting the rock like Boobie Miles. Defensively I think the Panthers can be even better too. They have a lot of experienced and explosive players coming back on defense and you almost get the feeling that the Panthers will be more of a defensive oriented team. The big question of course will revolve around whether or not the QB situation can work itself out. It’s going to be impossible to replace the production McIntosh brought to the table a year ago, but Reitz probably doesn’t need that high of a quality signal caller to win another SIAC championship and make a deep run in the state playoffs. As long as the QB position doesn’t completely implode, this is still the best team in the SIAC, the best team in Southern Indiana, and one of the best teams in the entire state.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

1. Reitz
2. Mater Dei
3. Memorial
4. Central
5. Bosse
6. Castle
7. Harrison
8. North

Reitz loses some massive leadership in QB Matt McIntosh, but the program simply reloads at this point. The defense will more of a focal point and the QB situation will work itself out. Relying more on KeAndre Vaughn isn’t a bad thing………….Mater Dei returns both QB Mauer & RB Hess which should be good enough. The Wildcats easily go 8-1 if not 9-0 in the regular season. Will they have enough to beat Retiz? Does losing McIntosh put the Panthers in the Wildcats cross hairs?……………..Memorial will be better this year now that QB Dane Hurley has a year under his belt as the starting QB. It’s amazing how young the Tigers were last year and still went 7-5 with a shot at getting to a semi-state if not for Bosse’s stunning victory. They’ll be more seasoned this year……………..Central probably has the best player in the conference in QB Jacob Hester, but the problem with Central is that they lost massive amounts of leadership and skill position players. The Bears will be good again because of Hester, but they get screwed playing in the same sectional as Reitz……………….Bosse climbs out of the bottom tier of the SIAC. They lost a lot in their skill positions, but Jalen Pendleton is an exciting player & you’d think the Bulldogs got quite a bit of confidence from last year’s postseason run……………I don’t know what to do with Castle. I overvalued them last year, but putting them 6th feels like I’m undervaluing them to a degree this season. They does lose Logan Hayford which is gigantic loss and I’m not sure their QB situation is going to be pretty. Unless Nick Sabin suddenly becomes the defensive coordinator, I can’t see Castle having a solid season………..I also think this is the year where Harrison escapes the basement of the SIAC for the first time in awhile. I don’t think it’s because of anything Harrison has done to get particularly better, but they had an incredibly young team last year with more experience in 2011……………..North should be the worst team in the conference. They had a senior laden team last year and managed a 2-8 record going 2-6 in the SIAC and being embarrassed outside of the conference. Can they really get better by playing a bunch of guys who’ve never played varsity? How much longer can HC Mike Wilson completely run this program into the ground?

Who’s ready for some FOOTBALL?

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July 30, 2011 - Posted by | SIAC

5 Comments »

  1. one glaring mistake – Weinzapfel is no longer the coach at Bosse. Harrison Andre Thomas took the job earlier this year.

    I hear that quite a few kids have left the Harrison program (only 9 freshmen have come out so far) for Bosse.

    Comment by Anonymous | August 4, 2011 | Reply

  2. WOW! I actually had read that Thomas took the job, but I couldn't confirm it anywhere so I assumed Weinzapfel was back.

    That is crazy news. If this is true, can you post here again confirming? I'll write a post correcting the error.

    Comment by College Football Mafia | August 4, 2011 | Reply

  3. By the way, the Evansville Courier-Press still has Weinzapfel as HC of the Bulldogs. Also John Harrell's Indiana HS football website still has Weinzapfel as head coach.

    I did find the article though that talks about Thomas taking over in the Evansville C-P. It was on May 16,2011.

    Pretty curious why Weinzapfel left. Do you have any knowledge of why he might have left Bosse's program when by all accounts things were looking up for Bosse?

    Comment by College Football Mafia | August 4, 2011 | Reply

  4. Don't bang on the Pulitzer prize winners at the Courier. The finest in their profession. I especially enjoyed the “Back Roads” series with Hal Wolford.

    Comment by Anonymous | August 6, 2011 | Reply

  5. Man – you used to humor me with a little write up on the Hatchets. Don't go to sleep on them this year. People are expecting big things from them again this year.

    http://washtimesherald.com/localsports/x1555807961/Hatchets-look-to-add-another-winning-season-on-gridiron

    Big Timber

    Comment by BigTimber | August 17, 2011 | Reply


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