High School Football Game of the Week Preview – Mater Dei vs Monrovia
The Class 2A State Final is scheduled for next Friday at 11 a.m. Central inside Lucas Oil Stadium. If the Mater Dei Wildcats hope to make it there, they'll first have to travel two and a half hours north to Monrovia, Indiana to take on a Bulldogs team with the same intent.
The Wildcats find themselves competing for a Semistate title on Saturday afternoon after taking care of business last Friday night at the Bowl against Triton Central; an exciting game that saw the Wildcats break a 7-7 tie at halftime with two scores in the third, then almost lose it after two blocked punts on consecutive drives in the fourth, one of which resulted in a Triton Central score on their ensuing drive.
Penalties were also an issue for Mater Dei, as they racked up 13 for a total of 100 yards. Generally speaking, when a team has that many penalties, the chances of them winning the game aren't great. Fortunately for the Wildcats, their defense stood strong, and the one-two punch of Julian Weidner and Drayke Richardt in the running game proved to be enough to put the Wildcats in the Semistate game.
They'll need another stout showing from their defense to stop the Monrovia Bulldogs from running all over them. Incorporating a Wing-T style offense similar to what Southridge runs, the Bulldogs have punished opponents throughout the regular and postseason with a ground game that has accounted for 5,396 yards and 68 touchdowns on 655 carries.
The Monrovia offense is spearheaded by a three-headed monster in junior Jaden Rhea, senior Trevor Ellis, and sophomore Garrison Lee, all three of which have blown past the 1,000 yard rushing mark with Lee accounting for 1,252 yards and 16 scores, while Ellis has put of 1,805 of his own yards with 24 trips to the endzone, and Rhea has eclipsed the 2,000 yard mark with 2,026 and 22 TDs.
Much like last week against Triton Central, if the Mater Dei defense can somehow manage to shut down the run, or at the very least not allow it to dictate the tempo, and force the Bulldogs to try and air it out (which they've only tried 42 times all season for 370 yards), I think they have a good chance to be making a trip to Indy on Black Friday.
It's also imperative for the Wildcats to eliminate penalties. While the argument could be made that they were the victims of some questionable calls against Triton Central, false starts, offsides, and encroachment penalties are all on the players, and they can't let those happen to the extent they did last Friday night or their season will be done Saturday evening.
If Mater Dei can jump out quickly and take an early lead, allowing Coach Darren Knight's defense to bring the house and contain the rush, they'll be at Lucas Oil next week competing for the Class 2A State Title where they would face either Rensselaer Central or Lafayette Central Catholic.
Tune into ESPN Evansville 105.3, or listen online at ESPNevansville.com see how it plays out with pregame at 2:00 p.m., and kick off at 2:30 p.m. Central.