INDIANA FOOTBALL DIGEST'S TOP GAMES – WEEK ONE

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ANDREAN AT MERRILLVILLE

KICKOFF: 7 pm CDT, Demaree Stadium.

COACHES: Chris Skinner, 56-21 in seventh year at Andrean. Brad Seiss, 53-29 in eighth year at Merrillville, 66-46 in 11th year overall.

TOP PERFORMERS: Senior running back-linebacker Drayk Bowen is one of the leaders for the top-ranked and defending state champion 59ers. Senior Justin Marshall roams the backfield for the No. 1 (Class 5A) Pirates.

LAST YEAR: Andrean 12-3, Merrillville 12-1.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Merrillville, 47-21, on August 20, 2021.

UP NEXT: Andrean entertains Crown Point. Merrillville plays at Hobart.

COACHES CORNER: "Consistency. Merrillville is talented once again and coming off back-to-back Class 6A semistate appearances. Teams with that level of talent will capitalize on mistakes. In the past, we've executed well, played smart football, and had successes, but not consistently for four quarters. There is a small margin of error against Merrillville and unfortunately, we haven't been able to keep those mistakes to a minimum. Specifically, on defense, we need to play assignment football. They have too many weapons and it will take all 11 players to get the job done. But there will be times in which they make plays even when we're in position and that speaks to their talent. Hopefully, those situations don't lead to explosive plays. Offensively, we need to find the angles and gaps to take advantage of their alignment. They are always fast on defense. A missed block or missed assignment is almost guaranteed to end in a negative play. You won't beat Merrillville playing behind the chains." – Andrean's Chris Skinner.

"The 'Battle of Broadway' is always a fun game. Both teams play hard, it's extremely physical, and we both have a lot of respect for each other's programs. We need to avoid typical week one issues and be solid in all three phases of the game to beat the 59ers." – Merrillville's Brad Seiss.

BROWNSBURG AT INDIANAPOLIS BEN DAVIS

KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EDT, Giants Stadium.

COACHES: John Hart, 50-15 in seventh year at Brownsburg, 316-97 in 38th year overall. Jason Simmons, 25-24 in fifth year at Ben Davis, 51-43 in ninth year overall.

TOP PERFORMERS: Senior lineman Leighton Jones is one of the anchors up front for the No. 5 (Class 6A) Bulldogs. Senior wide out Marques Reese has proven to be quite a catch for the No. 7 (Class 6A) Giants.

LAST YEAR: Brownsburg 9-3, Ben Davis 7-6.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Ben Davis, 32-14, on November 12, 2021, in Class 6A regional.

UP NEXT: Brownsburg entertains Indianapolis Cathedral.  Ben Davis travels to Avon.

COACHES CORNER: "As always, their speed is a huge concern. They have great skilled kids and are huge upfront. Turnovers, timing, and penalties tend to swing games early in the season." – Brownsburg's John Hart.

"We have to keep the focus on us and getting better. The game itself is big enough, so we need to keep our kids locked in. Offensively, we have to get the first first down of the drive by mixing up tempo as needed and insulate the quarterbacks. Defensively, we have to have motions and shifts, stop the run, and control the three-headed monster of both their tailbacks, quarterback (Jayden Whitaker), and wide receiver (Corey Smith). On special teams, we have to win in real time and make the first big play." - Ben Davis's Jason Simmons.

EVANSVILLE MEMORIAL AT JASPER

KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EDT, Brewer Alumni Field.

COACHES: John Hurley, 119-62 in 15th year at Evansville Memorial. Tony Lewis, 22-8 in fourth year at Jasper, 153-74 in 21st year overall.

TOP PERFORMERS: Senior quarterback Caleb Ellspermann is at the controls of the No. 7 (Class 4A) Tigers' offense. Senior defensive back Bralen Bair will roam the secondary for the No. 8 (Class 4A) Wildcats.

LAST YEAR: Evansville Memorial 11-3, Jasper 9-1.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Jasper, 27-19, on August 20, 2021.

UP NEXT: Evansville Memorial plays at Evansville North. Jasper entertains Evansville Harrison.

COACHES CORNER: "Jasper is a well-coached football team with a lot of energy. Coach Lewis and his staff do a great job preparing for big games. It will be a great environment Friday night at Jasper. We will need to stop the run, protect the football, eliminate penalties, and make big plays on both sides of the ball." – Evansville Memorial's John Hurley.

"For us to be successful, we need to take care of the football Friday night. We have to be able to move the ball using all four downs offensively, while also creating havoc defensively for a very good Memorial squad. Special teams will play a big role as we look to gain the hidden yardage in the kicking game. Memorial is very well-coached and has several starters returning. We hope to compete for the entire game and hope to give ourselves a chance in the fourth quarter to win the game." - Jasper's Tony Lewis.

HARRISON (WEST LAFAYETTE) VS. WEST LAFAYETTE

KICKOFF: 6 p.m. EDT, Lucas Oil Stadium

COACHES: Terry Peebles, 52-33 in ninth year at Harrison. Shane Fry, 94-18 in 10th year at West Lafayette.

TOP PERFORMERS: Senior Ben Henderson will see action both at quarterback and in the secondary for the No. 9 (Class 5A) Raiders. Senior signal caller Max Mullis is at the controls for the No. 2 (Class 3A) Red Devils.

LAST YEAR: Harrison (West Lafayette) 8-2, West Lafayette 9-1.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Harrison, 22-13, on August 20, 2004.

UP NEXT: Harrison (West Lafayette) entertains Plainfield. West Lafayette travels to McCutcheon.

COACHES CORNER: "To be successful, I believe we need to do two things. First and foremost, take care of the ball on offense, we cannot give the ball away and expect to have the outcome we want. Secondly, we want our defense to do that same thing though, create turnovers. If we can have a few extra possessions, it is much more likely we will have the outcome we all want at Harrison. We also need to be successful with our running game, it has been a staple for us in years past, graduating four college running backs in the past two years leaves the backfield to many new faces. On defense, if we tackle well in the open field and keep pace with West Lafayette's up-tempo offense, we believe we will be successful." – Harrison's Terry Peebles.

"For us to be successful against Harrison we must slow down their running game. Their offensive line is enormous, so our defensive line will look like mice out there. We have to take care of the football. We need to drive the ball and not give them any short fields. We have to play physical football. They will be bigger than us, but we must be able to run the ball and slow down their run." - West Lafayette's Shane Fry.

INDIANAPOLIS CATHEDRAL AT LAFAYETTE JEFF

KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EDT, Sheumann Stadium.

COACHES: Bill Peebles, 42-11 in fifth year at Cathedral, 116-76 in 18th year overall. Pat Shanley, 51-13 in seventh year at Lafayette Jeff.

TOP PERFORMERS: Senior wide receiver Jaron Tibbs is one of the standouts for the No. 2 (Class 6A) and two-time defending Class 5A state champion Irish. Junior back Glenn Patterson has the run of things offensively for the Bronchos.

LAST YEAR: Indianapolis Cathedral 14-1, Lafayette Jeff 7-4.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Cathedral, 28-21, on October 15, 2004.

UP NEXT: Indianapolis Cathedral travels to Brownsburg. Lafayette Jeff plays at Michigan City.

COACHES CORNER: "I think there are a lot of unknowns for us going into Friday's game. We are playing a new opponent we don't know much about. We are replacing 40 seniors from last year's team that played major roles in our success the last two years. We have nine new starters on defense and five new starting offensive linemen. The development of our new starters will be the key to our success Friday night and beyond." – Cathedral's Bill Peebles.

"I will start by saying in my seven years as a head coach, this Cathedral team is the best team that I have prepared for and schemed against based off of the tape. Not only are they very talented, but they are sound in everything that they do. They're extremely well coached and play exceptionally hard. For us to be successful against Cathedral, we have to play sound, assignment, team football in all three phases. Offensively, we must take care of the football. We can't afford to give their offense additional possessions. Can we keep No. 99 (defensive lineman Kendrick Gilbert) from being extremely disruptive? Defensively, it is no small task, but we must find a way to make No. 18 (quarterback Danny O'Neil) uncomfortable. He is one the best (if not the best) high school quarterback that I have seen on tape. If he is comfortable, we are in trouble. No. 13 (wide out Jaron Tibbs) is outstanding, so we must work to keep him from getting behind us. No. 2 (tight end Brennan Wooten) is outstanding in the slot. What a weapon. Special Teams, we must work to create extra yardage in the return game and limit the yardage we give their offense in covering our kicks. They are too good on both sides of the ball to overcome this." - Lafayette Jeff's Pat Shanley.

MICHIGAN CITY AT WARSAW

KICKOFF: 7:30 p.m. EDT, Fisher Field.

COACHES: Phil Mason, 43-24 in seventh year at Michigan City, 156-85 in 22nd year overall. Bart Curtis, 31-12 in fifth year at Warsaw, 232-114 in 32nd year overall.

TOP PERFORMERS: Senior back Owen Davidson hopes get plenty of touches for the No. 3 (Class 5A) Wolves. Senior linebacker Jonn Burritt will be in the middle of the action on the Tigers' defense.

LAST YEAR: Michigan City 9-4, Warsaw 7-3.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Michigan City, 35-16, on August 27, 2021.

UP NEXT: Michigan City hosts Lafayette Jeff. Warsaw entertains Chesterton.

COACHES CORNER: "We are very young on defense with only one senior and three returning starters. Our young guys are going to have to step up to the challenge and Warsaw's offense is very tough to defend. Our offense is going to have to play great. Complete drives, eliminate mistakes, and take advantage of every opportunity. We have great kids and we know they will compete. We hope they can handle the Friday night lights. Jaden Hart and Tyler Bush will need to have a great games and Jahari Branch will really have to step up and lead our defense." – Michigan City's Phil Mason.

"Michigan City is very fast, physical, skilled, aggressive, and well coached. They have a high-octane offense we've struggled to get off the field in the past. They have an angry and physical defense which we've struggled to move the ball against the three times we've played them. This is a great game for Warsaw because it truly tests us out of the gate. (No. 9 Jaden) Hurt is an outstanding running back. Their quarterback (No. 5 Tyler Bush) has a great arm and awesome presence, and No. 11 (outside linebacker Jahari Branch) might be one of the best defensive players in Northern Indiana. We need to earn our confidence because last season we were down 13-0 before folks were in their seats. We cannot survive a poor start because they can hurt team in many fashions (big plays, big stops, turnovers, etc.). We must get through the onslaught that will initially take place. The better things are going, the better City plays. If we compete fearlessly one snap at a time, we feel as if we can compete." Warsaw's Bart Curtis.

MISHAWAKA AT MISHAWAKA MARIAN

KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EDT, Bob Otolski Field.

COACHES: Keith Kinder, 35-13 in fifth year at Mishawaka. Mike Davidson, 41-12 in fifth year at Marian.

TOP PERFORMERS: Senior lineman Dawson Nowacki paves the way up front again for the No. 8 (Class 5A) Cavemen. Senior Mikey Fuller is part of a veteran front line for the No. 4 (Class 3A) Knights' offense.

LAST YEAR: Mishawaka 8-3, Mishawaka Marian 10-4.

PREVIOUS MEETING: Mishawaka, 43-16, on August 20, 2021.

UP NEXT: Mishawaka host South Bend Saint Joseph. Mishawaka Marian travels to Culver Academy.

COACHES CORNER: "We have a big challenge ahead of us this week in Marian. They have a very good player in (Marcus) LaSane as their returning starting quarterback and have some great athletes and weapons around him. For us to be successful Friday, we have to win the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. As always, it's important that we take care of the football on offense and pursue it well on defense. If we do those things, we think we can have a chance to win the game in the fourth quarter." – Mishawaka's Keith Kinder.

"For us to be successful, it's going to take a great effort in several areas. First, offensively, we will have to put pressure on them and score. We can't have any mistakes (turnovers, penalties, etc.) on the offensive side and will have to execute at a high level in both the run and the pass to put points on the board. Second, we're going to have to have some guys without the experience step up for the first time on Friday nights. Finally, we're going to have to win in the kick game. Whether that's a field position, getting a score, or getting a turnover, I don't know. But winning the kick game will be important to use coming out on top Friday night." – Marian's Mike Davidson.

WARREN CENTRAL AT CENTER GROVE

KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EDT, Ray Skillman Stadium.

COACHES: Mike Kirschner, 5-4 in second year at Warren Central, 144-74 in 20th year overall. Eric Moore, 224-72 in 24th year at Center Grove, 272-77 in 28th year overall.

TOP PERFORMERS: Senior wide receiver Joe Walker hopes to haul in plenty of passes for the No. 6 (Class 6A) Warriors. Senior running back Drew Wheat will be a workhorse for the top-ranked and two-time defending Class 6A state champion Trojans.

LAST YEAR: Warren Central 5-4, Center Grove 14-0

PREVIOUS MEETING: Center Grove, 38-14, on August 20, 2021.

UP NEXT: Warren Central hosts Detroit King (Michigan). Center Grove entertains Carmel.

COACHES CORNER: "We are going to have to weather the storm. Center Grove has a great atmosphere for a football game that your team will have to block out the noise to focus on the game. With some injuries early in the season, we will need some sophomores to grow up quickly." – Warren Central's Mike Kirschner.

"We have to limit their big plays. We can't turn over the football. We must limit our three and outs on offense. Our defense must get their offense off the field and don't give up big plays on special teams. We have to move the chains on third down and first downs will be huge for us. We need to get their offensive guys on the ground by doing a good job of tackling. Finally, we need to have fun and stay healthy. Our biggest challenge this season will be how we handle all the success from the last two years How do we gain our new identity? How do we as coaches replace so many starters? How do we incorporate younger guys into the lineup. Will the returning seniors be able to carry the load? Even though we have 37 seniors, most of them have never played in a game as a starter." - Center Grove's Eric Moore.

WESTFIELD AT NEW PALESTINE

KICKOFF: 7 p.m. EDT, Kelso Stadium.

COACHES: Jake Gilbert, 84-48 in 12th year at Westfield, 114-84 in 18th year overall. Kyle Ralph, 104-10 in 10th year at New Palestine.

TOP PERFORMERS: Senior linebacker Tyler Dikos will be in the middle of things defensively for the No. 4 (Class 6A) Shamrocks. Senior lineman Luke Burgess leads the charge up front for the No. 3 (Class 4A) Dragons.

LAST YEAR: Westfield 12-2, New Palestine 8-4.

PREVIOUS MEETING: New Palestine, 34-21, on October 9, 1992.

UP NEXT: Westfield hosts Lawrence Central. New Palestine hosts Decatur Central.

COACHES CORNER: "New Pal is huge and very well-coached. We have to hang in there against their size on the line of scrimmage. I don't expect New Pal to do us any favors or give us anything. We'll have to show loads of toughness to win over there in week one." – Westfield's Jake Gilbert.

"Westfield is a tremendous program coached by one of the best staffs in the entire state. Jake does, and has done for a long time, a tremendous job over there. We have been friends for a long time and I have great respect for him and his program. Having to rise a Class 4A program up to play a Class 6A program like his is a tremendous challenge, but this is what New Palestine football is all about. We want to challenge our program, our kids, and our coaches to be the best. Westfield is among the elite in Indiana, and it will be a true test week one to see what kind of a team we are going to have in 2022. Teams like Westfield don't beat themselves, so we need to play mistake-free football and be able to win the line of scrimmage. If you can't do those two things, teams like this with their talent and depth will punish you. Again, it will be a great test for our kids and one I hope we are ready for." – New Palestine's Kyle Ralph.

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