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High School Football Game of the Week Preview – Reitz Versus Central

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Based solely on their two match-ups last year, this game as the potential to be an epic battle between the two city, SIAC, and Class 4A rivals.

When the two first met in week three of the 2011 season, it took overtime for Reitz to pull out a 34-35 win. Central barely got the upper-hand when the two teams met in the second round of the sectional, knocking the Panthers out of the state title picture with a 37-35 win in regulation.

Whether they’ll admit it or not, there’s no doubt Reitz will have revenge on their minds when Central makes the trip down St. Joe Avenue to duke it out under the lights of the Bowl. However, it won’t be an easy task.

In order to win and put an end to their two game losing streak, the Panthers defense will have to stop the Central passing attack led by Bears junior quarterback, Austin Fuchs. Against the Bosse Bulldogs last weekend, Fuchs threw five, count ‘em, FIVE touchdown passes — in the first quarter. He also ran for an 18-yard touchdown in route to a 56-7 victory at Enlow Field.

But Fuchs doesn’t do it alone. He has a talented receiving corp that includes seniors Jalen Bender, Trevor Ferguson, and David Garrett. All of which are tall and more importantly, fast, giving them the ability to create space behind defenders. Central also brings a potent running game to the field with running back Chris Walker-Glenn coupled with Fuchs’ ability to tuck the ball and run when necessary. Reitz will have to find a way to rattle Fuchs’ cage by bringing pressure and keep the Central receivers in check or it could be a long night for the Panthers.

Offensively, Reitz must to find a way to take the load off running back Ke’Andre Vaughn’s shoulders. The senior has been the man for the Panthers this season, rushing for well over 300 yards and eight touchdowns in the first three games of the season. Obviously an impressive start, but one that makes them one-dimensional. 5’8″, 155 pound senior quarterback, Drew Johnston and the Reitz coaching staff has to find a way to get the ball down the field through the air to keep the Central defense honest and force them to be ready for the pass as opposed to loading up players at the line to stop the run. Most of Johnston’s completions this season have been short screen passes to the left or right that rely on the receiver and his blockers to do a bulk of the work to pick up positive yards. So far, most of these completions have been stopped in the backfield for negative yards, or resulted in small gains.

The answer could be Austin Reagan. A 6’3″, 170 pound junior whose seven-inch height advantage over Johnston would give him the ability to see over the Bears defenders, all of which stand between 5’9″ and 6’2″. While he’s seen a small handful of snaps so far this season, the talk on message boards and from people who have seen him in practice or in junior varsity games implies that he has the arm strength and skills to do some damage in the passing game. It may be too early in the season to completely blow everything up and start from scratch, but if things don’t improve pass-wise for the Panthers, they may have no choice.

Expect both teams to be fired up when they take the field Friday night at the Reitz Bowl and catch every snap live on Newstalk 1280AM and Newstalk1280.com with pre-game at 6:30pm and kick-off at 7:00.

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