TERRE HAUTE —
Terre Haute South
at Evansville North
Kickoff — 8 p.m. Terre Haute time (7 p.m. CDT).
Airwaves — No broadcasts are scheduled.
Records — It’s the season opener for both teams, now potential Class 5A sectional foes. Terre Haute South’s Braves were 3-7 last year, Evansville North’s Huskies 5-5. In controlled scrimmages last week, South played at Northview and Evansville North met Jasper.
Last meeting — The schools were rivals in the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference in the late 1970s and early 1980s, but not all SIAC schools played each other in football. South and Evansville North may not have played each other since the Braves went undefeated in 1973.
Coaches — Tim Herrin, after 16 years as an assistant at South, begins his first season as head coach. Bret Szabo is new to Evansville North but is 62-44 in his 11th season, the previous 10 at Bedford North Lawrence.
Outlook — Both new coaches are emphasizing toughness in their new positions. The Braves’ record last year came against a significantly tougher schedule than the Huskies have, but South also has to replace a quarterback (Danny Etling) who is contending for a Big Ten starting spot.
Injuries, lineup changes — South is actually healthier than it was going into last week’s controlled scrimmage at Northview; because sophomore Dante Johnson (running back/safety) and junior Sammy Velazquez (running back/linebacker) will be available. Evansville North has no injuries.
Key players — The Braves figure to be led by junior quarterback Timmy Herrin, with four-year starter Jacob Johnson as the top receiver and a backfield committee that includes returnees Ian Newton and Michael Watt and former linebacker Logan Deady. Junior Berry is an all-state defensive lineman.
The Huskies have four returning starters on each side of the ball, but their key player might be senior quarterback Jesse Millikan. He’s a transfer from BNL (his father is offensive coordinator) and earned all-conference honorable mention there last season.
Words from Herrin — “We had a lot of guys step up and play pretty well [at Northview]. There were a lot of mistakes that were on us; we’ve got to fix the little things.
“Coach Szabo has had quite a bit of success at Bedford. [The Huskies are] young, but with a lot of skill players. They look very athletic.”
Words from Szabo — “Jasper is a classy, well coached program, and I thought we hung right with them.
“It’s really hard to tell [about South]. They are very large, athletic, and they look real physical. They look like a typical [Metropolitan Interscholastic Conference] team, even if they aren’t there anymore, and that’s a compliment. It will be a real challenge for us.”
— By Andy Amey
at Evansville Harrison
Kickoff — 7:30 p.m. EDT.
Airwaves — None planned in the Wabash Valley.
Records — The West Vigo Vikings (6-4 last season) will visit the Evansville Harrison Warriors (1-9 last season) in the season opener for both teams.
Last meeting — On Aug. 17, 2012, Evansville Harrison won at West Vigo 52-7 on the playing field, but the decision was later ruled a forfeit victory for the Vikings because the Warriors used an ineligible player.
Last time West Vigo defeated Evansville Harrison — The forfeit victory last season is believed to be the only time West Vigo has ever defeated Evansville Harrison.
Coaches — Jeff Cobb is 42-41 in his ninth season at the helm for West Vigo. Cory Brunson (0-0) is in his first season at Evansville Harrison.
Injuries, lineups — For West Vigo, every regular appears healthy. Some key players to watch include senior quarterback/cornerback Jimmy Maples (5-10, 170), senior running back/linebacker Skyler Warnock (5-10, 180) and senior offensive/defensive lineman Sam McClain (6-0, 215).
For Evansville Harrison, sophomore Ryan Hales (6-0, 163), running back Kyndrick Hancock (5-10, 163), running back Andrew Finch and wide receiver Malik Parker (6-1, 189) key your offense. Finch, dealing with an ankle issue this week, was a 1,000-yard rusher for Castle High School the past two seasons.
Coaches’ comments — Cobb on his squad: “We’re improving every day. We’ve got a lot of young, inexperienced players that we’ve kinda had to slow some things down for so that they can get up to speed.”
Cobb on playing the Warriors: “Evansville Harrison is always going to have a fast, athletic team. That’s what we’ve dealt with the past three years with them and sometimes it’s hard for us to adjust.”
Brunson on his team: “They’re new to what I do. They seem to be picking up the offense, defense and special teams pretty well. There’s a lot of potential to be good. The key is getting them to buy into all the changes.”
Brunson on the Vikings: “They seem to be a decent-sized team. They seem to be a team that’s going to play hard and do the right things right. Early in the season, we’re just working on ourselves.”
— By David Hughes
Terre Haute North
Kickoff — 8:30 p.m.
Airwaves — WFNF AM 1130, beginning at 8:15 p.m.
Records — The Terre Haute North Patriots — 6-5 in 2012 — plays Castle — a 12-1 squad in 2012 — in both team’s season opener.
Last meeting — On Aug. 17, 2012, Castle hung on for a 35-24 home victory.
Last time Terre Haute North beat Castle — The Patriots were 35-31 winners in 2010 at Castle.
Coaches — Chris Barrett is 44-75 in his 12th year at Terre Haute North and 72-107 in his 19th season overall. Doug Hurt, a former Indiana State player, is 58-26 in his 8th year at Castle.
Outlook — The Patriots are ranked No. 8 in Class 5A’s AP Poll and No. 7 in the IFCA Coaches Poll, while the Castle squad comes in at No. 3 in both polls.
Castle appears to have lost a good amount of talent from last season’s sectional championship team, but the Knights have been a formidable opponent since Hurt took over eight years ago.
Injuries, lineups — Terre Haute North brings talented players on both sides of the ball with a total of 17 players returning with starting experience, including a dynamic running back duo of Ricky Brookins and Kai Stratten. Quarterback Chris Barrett II returns after a strong junior season with some veteran receiver options. They’re all behind a massive, experienced offensive line.
The Patriots’ defense could be a force as well, and coach Barrett said the team has been preparing for the Castle offense for a long time.
The Knights will not have senior Andrew Finch, who rushed for 1,252 yards and 15 TDs yards the past two years, on the roster this season. Running back Christian Peach (5-8, 145) will take handoffs from sophomore quarterback Will Randle (6-5, 185), while senior Andrew Gearhardt (6-1, 25) leads the Castle offensive line.
The Knights’ “Tampa Two” defensive scheme is led by linebacker Clay Seitz (5-11, 185), defensive tackle Mason Wetzel (6-4, 265), defensive end Beau Brinkman (5-11, 195) and cornerback Logan Guerzini (5-8, 142).
Coaches’ comments — Barrett on his team: “These kids know they’re playing on the biggest stage. The Colts play there. It’s an NFL Complex. It’s the big house. These guys have been looking forward to it ever since it was announced last spring. I think that’s going to play a factor into the game. Both teams will have to be able to control that anxiety and the awesomeness of the place. Once that first hits get out of the way, you’re back to normal anyway. But it’s still a big deal.”
“We’ve got a very good series going on. They’ve got us the last two years. We’ve been working on them throughout the summer, trying to stop their zone offense and their jailbreak screen. They run it very efficiently. Our guys are very prepared, now it’s just up to who can make plays.”
Hurt on the matchup: “To beat the Patriots we are going to have to play exceptionally well. They are talented and very well-coached. Chris Barrett and his program are class acts. They are fundamentally sound and always well prepared. Turnovers will most likely determine the game. If we get into a shoot-out with them we most likely won't be able to keep up. Their running backs Ricky Brookings and Kai Stratten are as good as we will see all year. Chris Barrett II is an excellent quarterback. Their defense is big and physical. They have the potential to be the best team we will see on our regular season schedule. We will need to move the football, keep our defense off of the field and avoid turnovers to have a shot at winning the game.”
— Craig Pearson