Outside the Huddle is breaking down every area regional matchup scheduled for this Friday.
We continue in Class 5A as Bishop Dwenger (7-4) travels to Zionsville (7-5).
1. Deja vu
A season ago, a Zionsville team that went 4-5 in the regular season won sectional, took down a 10-win Bishop Dwenger team in regional and advanced all the way to state, losing to Cathedral.
This year, Zionsville went 4-5 in the regular season and, well, is looking to repeat history by sending the Saints home for the second straight year.
2. A FAMILIAR FACE
While quarterback Josh Stone has moved on, senior running back Colin Price is back as the offense’s primary weapon.
But the hero for Zionsville in last year’s game is also back in kicker A.J. Vinatieri. The son of NFL kicker Adam has hit 40-of-43 PATs and 6-of-9 field goals this season, with the senior’s long being 42 yards.
Vinatieri nailed a 22-yard field goal to propel Zionsville to the win a year ago. The 30-21 final score was skewed due to a defensive touchdown on the final play of the game.
3. NEW LIFE
Many left Bishop Dwenger for dead when it dropped four of five during the regular season, yet the Saints have rebounded, with their best game of the year coming last week in a 22-point demolition of Snider in the sectional championship game.
A squad that has been much maligned this year for being too small and not physical enough pushed around the Panthers last week, playing with a chip on their shoulder that has given the team new life in 2021. We will see if that approach continues into this Friday.
FOUR PLAYERS TO WATCH
RANDY CAREY, BISHOP DWENGER
The outside linebacker had 11 tackles in last week’s win over Snider and is now closing in on 100 for the season to go with 14.5 TFL and seven sacks.
The Saints’ defense is predicated on allowing their linebackers to keep off blocks and make plays close to the line of scrimmage. Carey may not get the attention as some other Dwenger defenders do, but he has shown he is one of the best in this scheme.
OWEN ROSSELL, ZIONSVILLE
The man in the middle for the Eagles defense. The 6-foot, 220-pound senior is a challenge to offenses each and every week. His pursuit is unmatched and he reads plays exceptionally well. He has a pair of interceptions on the year, showing he has talent to drop back and play the short pass game.
KJ TIPPMANN, BISHOP DWENGER
Tippmann saw 13 carries a year ago in the regional loss to Zionsville, but expect him to carry a bigger load this season. The senior surpassed the 1,000-yard rushing mark last week by going for 173 in the win over Snider.
Tippmann is a deceptive runner who plays bigger and faster than what he appears. Underestimae him at your own risk.
LUKE MURPHY, ZIONSVILLE
The Eagles offense has been led this year by the sophomore Murphy. He has been through the rigors of the Hoosier Crossroads Conference, which many consider the third-best league in the state behind the MIC and SAC.
Murphy has thrown for 1,400 yards and 13 touchdowns this season. While not a huge threat to run the ball, he is reliable in short-yardage situations.
Perhaps Murphy’s best attribute has been ball protection having thrown just six INTs this year.
KEY TO VICTORY – ZIONSVILLE
CONTAIN THE RUN
The Saints were able to rush for 300 yards last week against Snider, averaging seven yards a carry and scoring five touchdowns. Quarterback Bohde Dickerson is at his best when he is a complement to the rushing attack and can make plays vertically while defenses worry about containing Tippmann and co.
If the Eagles can wrap up and bring down Saints rushers on early downs, it will force Bishop Dwenger into some long-down situations in which it will need to pass to score.
KEY TO VICTORY – BISHOP DWENGER
REPEAT LAST WEEK
Bishop Dwenger came out locked in and focused in all facets of the game last week, taking down a bigger team and maximizing its advantages to great effect.
Zionsville is not an overwhelming team. In fact, it is very much like the Saints, a team that took its lumps in a tough conference before emerging with its best ball of the season for the playoffs.
The Eagles are allowing 25 points per game, so the Saints may be able to find a lot in the way of offensive success in this one.
Coming Thursday when Blitz makes his regional picks