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FOOTBALL: Munster at Highland Game Preview

The Battle of the Bridge; Munster @ Highland – RSN Coverage can be found at Facebook.com/regionsports

GAME NOTES: The Battle of the Bridge saga is much like the story of the hammer and the nail. The hammer pounds the nail relentlessly and all the nail can do is take the beating it knows is coming. Occasionally the hammer will miss the nail, but in this case, that hasn’t happened since 2005.

Will this time be any different? Well, word on Highway Ave. is that this Trojan team is for real. Of course talk is cheap, and as Highland found out during the Griffith game last year, it’s this Friday night that matters, not last Friday.

BREAKDOWN: The tables appear to be turned this time around, at least on paper, as the Trojans sit with a 2-0 smile on their face, while the Stangs have an 0-2 chip on their shoulder. Those two losses were to Duneland opponents currently ranked #2 and #3 in the area, while Highland’s two wins are against a Morton club with a new head coach and a young Hammond High team. One little known fact about the game with the Govs is that several of Morton’s top players weren’t in uniform – so it’s hard to get a gauge on Grider’s gridders. The Bridge game should tell us more about these two teams.

What we do know is this…

With a point differential of plus 47 (66-19) and a number seven ranking in one local poll, the Trojans are basking in the glow of the Friday night lights. Having the favored status in the Bridge game, if indeed they do, means the lights will be that much brighter and therefore the expectations that much more tangible.

For Highland, the path to success has less to do with who’s on the field and more to do with who’s on the sideline. The talent gap may have closed some between these two, so the question now is ‘has the coaching gap?’ We’ll know before we fall asleep on Friday.

We also know Munster is winless coming in…which may be what makes them the most dangerous. In years past, it’s been fairly common knowledge among Region football insiders that the Mustangs typically spent at least some of Highland week prepping for Andrean, their week four opponent. Whether that’s true or not doesn’t matter this year, because at 0-2 we know the Munster coaching staff will be focused on one thing and one thing only – beating the Trojans.

How will they do that? The old fashioned way, that’s how. Munster will line up and do what they do – play smart, disciplined, hard nosed football. If you can do that better than they can, you’ll probably beat them. But if not…
Keys to the Game
For the first time in years fans of the Blue think there might be a legitimate chance to beat their rivals in red. And they’d be right – there is a chance.

If the Trojans can do what they did against Morton – make big plays for touchdowns, they have a chance to win the game. However, if the plan is to go nose to nose with Munster, Highland will have their hands full, as the team in red has already slugged it out with two of the top three teams in the area, so they’re physically tested. If the plan is to out scheme them, Leroy Marsh and his staff of experienced assistants are as good as it gets, so that isn’t likely to work either.

This brings us back to big plays. Highland has some speed on the outside as they showed against Morton. If QB Angel Mata can get the ball into the hands of his playmakers, especially when they’re on the move, good things can happen for the Trojan offense. Mata’s legs will also be critical to their success, just as they were against Hammond High. He’ll likely be asked to improvise this week and if he can do that successfully, Highland has that chance we talked about earlier.

For Munster the keys aren’t hard to find. Execute the game plan, keep mistakes to a minimum and remember that this is the Battle of the Bridge – so take it seriously. Come out fired out and make a statement early in the game, rather than early in the week. Give Highland a reason to doubt themselves and chances are they will do just that.

Talking tough and walking tough are two different things. Can the Trojans back it up is the question. We’re not feeling it.

FRIDAY NIGHT FORECAST: Munster 35 Highland 14

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