4A #6 Lowell Red Devils versus 4A #2 Evansville Reitz Panthers
Last week: Lowell 10 Fort Wayne Dwenger 7
Evansville Reitz 35 Indianapolis Cathedral 34
Favorite: Evansville Reitz
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GAME NOTES: Both teams come into the ballgame after come from behind victories in their respective semi-state games last week. Lowell overcame a 7-0 fourth quarter deficit to defeat state number one ranked and previously unbeaten Fort Wayne Dwenger 10-7 on David Lang’s 31 yard field goal with eleven seconds to play. Evansville Reitz trailed Indianapolis Cathedral 34-28 with just over a minute to play, but recovered a Cathedral fumble and managed to score with 34 seconds remaining to advance to the championship game this week. This is Lowell’s second trip to the championship game in the last three years, defeating four-time defending state champ Indianapolis Roncalli 28-27 in come from behind fashion in 2005. Evansville Reitz is making their first trip to the state championship since 1977, when they lost to Les Stokes and the Portage Indians 33-14 in the class 3A championship. Although Reitz owns nine “mythical” state championships from the era before the tournament, the Panthers have never won a title in the tournament.
BREAKDOWN: This game features a definite contrast in styles. Much like Fort Wayne Dwenger, Evansville Reitz features a high scoring offense that has put most opponents away early on, outscoring their opponents 206-15 on the season in both the first and second quarters. Lowell on the other hand, features a grind it out, ground oriented offense, consuming the clock with long drives primarily on the ground, while relying on their staunch defense to keep them in games and set up clutch place kicker David Lang.
Dual threat QB Paul McIntosh and RB Tyler Julian key a balanced Panther offense that averages over 268 yards a game on the ground and averages another 177 through the air. McIntosh has rushed for 1,452 yards and 30 touchdowns on the season and has thrown for a gaudy 2,363 yards and another 21 touchdowns. Julian, considered by Reitz insiders to be the best all-around player on the team, has rushed for an additional 1,284 yards and 18 touchdowns. The Panther receiving corps is led by Jeff Hudson with 66 catches for 1196 yards and 8 touchdowns, and Ryan McIntosh, with 41 receptions for 559 yards and 8 TD’s as well. Again, much like Dwenger attempted last week, look for Evansville Reitz to try and spread the Red Devils out defensively, utilizing their speed to create mismatches outside of the tackle box where McIntosh, Julian and company can try and jump all over Lowell with big plays, turning the game into a shooting match.
On the other hand, Lowell figures to stick with the Red Devils tried and true formula of defeating their opponents by keeping their offense off the field by eating the up the clock, running between the tackles with their capable backfield tandem of FB Steffan Peck and TB Brandon Grubbe. QB Kurt Monix has proved to be a capable passer, and Head Coach Kirk Kennedy has caught opponents napping on a couple of occasions this year by throwing deep, but will more likely balance their attack by mixing in a few square-out routes just to keep the Reitz defense honest. If Evansville Reitz has a weakness, it is on the defensive side of the ball, as evidenced by the 60 points the Panthers allowed versus Columbus East in the regional; but nonetheless a high scoring game still favors Evansville. If Lowell is successful in maintaining the tempo of the game and can hold the Reitz offense to minimal possessions, the Red Devils should find a way to win a close ballgame late.
RSN Says: Lowell 24 Evansville Reitz 20