Bishop Dwenger is set to appear in its 11th state championship game on Friday at Lucas Oil Stadium.
You know what this means?
Blitz is headed to Indy.
We here at OutsidetheHuddle.com will bring you coverage of the Saints as they take on Evansville Central, a program making its first-ever appearance in the state finals.
What should we expect? Let’s break this matchup down.
1. VETS vs. NEWBIES
It’s not exactly business as usual for the Bishop Dwenger players, most of whom did not experience the 2015 trip to state as freshmen. But this is a veteran group of coaches, many of whom have been a part of multiple state title games in their current roles.
Meanwhile, this is an all-new experience for Evansville Central. Prior to this year, the Bears had never won a regional title in program history. Now, the team is set to play on the biggest stage in Indiana prep football. How do they handle Friday? How have they handled the week leading up to Friday?
2. PLAYING INTO DWENGER’S HANDS
Evansville Central’s offense is predicated on a power iso scheme, with running back Brennan Schutte the linchpin of the attack with over 2,000 yards and 25 TDs on the ground.
Quarterback Brennon Harper is a threat to throw the ball, and wide receiver Malcolm DePriest Jr. is as dynamic of a playmaker as the Saints will have faced all year, but Evansville Central’s bread and butter is the run game between the tackles.
Unfortunately for the Bears, Bishop Dwenger’s interior linemen coupled with an aggressive linebacker corps have shut down the inside runs most of the season. Even when teams try to kick it to the outside, the outside linebackers and d-ends are great at sealing the edge.
The offense of Evansville Central plays right into Dwenger’s defensive strengths.
3. LYTLE TIME
Sophomore Brenden Lytle has continued to look better and better with each passing week at the quarterback spot. In last week’s victory against Mishawaka, he completed 8-of-14 passes for 93 yards as the running game stole the show.
But with each passing week, Lytle has become more of a threat to air it out. This has been helped by two factors – practice time that has him getting a lot more reps due to being the No. 1 QB and the addition of both Patrick O’Keefe and Patrick Finley to the pass game, O’Keefe moving from QB and Finley back from injury.
The trio of O’Keefe, Finley and Griffin Eifert give Lytle multiple weapons in which to throw to. He will look to take advantage of a defense that is susceptible to the pass.
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
BRENNAN SCHUTTE, EVANSVILLE CENTRAL
The aforementioned running back for the Bears averages 6.8 yards per carry. He is not overly big at 5-foot-10, 165 pounds, but he runs above his weight and is quick through holes that are frequently opened by a veteran defensive line.
The Bears need a big day from Schutte to have a shot on Friday.
DEVON TIPPMANN, BISHOP DWENGER
The sophomore running back has gone over 100 yards rushing in four of the last five games, including a 112-yard performance last week at Mishawaka.
Tippmann is extremely difficult to bring down on first contact. He runs with such a low center of gravity that it is a must to wrap his legs or else he will fight off defenders.
On the turf at Lucas Oil, he could have a field day carrying the ball upwards of 20-25 times.
MALCOLM DEPRIEST JR., EVANSVILLE CENTRAL
Think Jordan Presley. DePriest is a danger every time he touches the ball, which comes primarily in the passing game and special teams. Last week against Marion, he caught the only three completions of the game for the Bears. All three went for touchdowns and a combined 234 yards.
He has three return touchdowns and also leads Evansville Central with eight INTs.
PATRICK FINLEY, BISHOP DWENGER
The junior was injured in the Week 2 game against North Side, but returned for regional play and made his presence known with 123 all-purpose yards and a pair of touchdowns.
With Friday’s controlled environment and perfect field conditions, Finley could shine in both the pass-catching and special teams areas. He adds that quickness on the outside for a Saints offense that is at its best when it is mixing up its play calls and keeping defenses guessing between pass and run.
Look for Lytle to try and find Finley early and often.
KEYS TO VICTORY – BISHOP DWENGER
1. CONTAIN THE RUN
While Evansville Central can pass, it does so predominantly off the strength of its run game in that it attempts to catch defenses off guard over the top. Much like what the Saints did last week to Mishawaka, making the Bears one dimensional relying on the pass does not fit what they want to do
Bishop Dwenger is strong and quick defensively, which should give the Bears problems.
2. DON’T MAKE MISTAKES
Perhaps we are selling Evansville Central short, but this feels like a game where if the Saints play the way they are capable of playing, Bishop Dwenger should roll to its fifth state championship in program history.
However, a mistake-plagued game out of the Saints puts that into question. Turnovers, penalties and missed opportunities offensively could keep the door open for the Bears.
KEYS TO VICTORY – EVANSVILLE CENTRAL
1. BIG PLAYS
Malcolm DePriest Jr. is the biggest threat to Dwenger and a state championship. He is an athlete that can change the game in all three facets of the game.
If DePriest is able to get loose for a few long passing plays and maybe adds a key return or two, it will emotionally lift up Evansville Central and keep the Bears in the game on the field.
The Saints should be able to bottle up the run game, but similar to playing Bishop Luers, if your defense does what it is supposed to do 90 percent of the time but gives up a big play in that 10 percent, it can be detrimental to the chances for a victory.
2. DON’T BUY INTO THE HYPE
It has been an exciting week for the Bears program, appearing in their first state championship in history. The Monday media luncheon, the day at Lucas Oil Stadium for practice, a walk-through on Thanksgiving, it is all different for Evansville Central. And that’s before we get to game day.
The Bears must put all of the excitement of playing in a state title game behind them. They must play their best in this one to have a chance to beat the Saints. Being overwhelmed by the experience could spell doom for the team’s chances to pull the upset and capture its first-ever state championship trophy.