With all the new teams on Lincoln's football schedule this season in the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference, there's one familiar face, and that's the Alices' foe in their regular-season finale this week.
It's rivalry week in the SIAC, and there's none better to fill that slot for Lincoln (3-5), as it visits Jasper (6-2) for a 7:30 p.m. kickoff Friday.
The Class 4A No. 9 Wildcats ended a two-game slide last week, scoring a late touchdown to knock off Evansville North, 23-16, and a win over Lincoln would give them a runner-up finish in their first year in the conference.
It goes without saying that the Alices would like to spoil that, but coach Levi Salters and his squad also have an eye toward building momentum for the postseason next week.
“Jasper definitely gets their attention. They're excited to have a chance to go over there and wrap up the season with a win over Jasper,” Salters said. “I don't think there's a better way to propel yourself into the sectional than playing over there and getting a win.”
Lincoln struggled last week in a 21-6 home loss to Evansville Memorial, as the Alices failed to score until the fourth period. Turnovers were a problem for the first time all season, as Lincoln fumbled twice to thwart drives and gave up an interception once the game was already decided. The Alices also didn't force the Tigers into a turnover, and they had compiled at least two takeaways in every game prior.
“We had some things going at times when (Memorial) wasn't pinned back, knowing we had to pass. We'd be moving it consistently, but it seemed like something went wrong every time we got things going. Those turnovers were costly,” Salters said. “We just couldn't get any consistency.”
Senior Julius Hardiman provided some consistency late, rushing three times for 21 yards to set up Lincoln's only score, and senior E Smith was respectable, rushing 15 times for 55 yards.
Senior Eric Vickers eclipsed 1,000 yards passing for the season last week. He's completed 79-of-165 for 1,021 yards and nine touchdowns. Smith is the team's leading rusher with 453 yards, and seniors Quinn Miller, Blake Mincey and Payton Curry, and junior Coleton Pfoff all have at least 10 catches and over 150 yards receiving.
Salters said there will likely be some subtle changes in the offense this week.
“As a coaching staff we took a step back and thought about how we could be successful against the top-level competition,” he said. “We can keep doing what we're doing and have some success, but if we want to take the next step, we need to reevaluate the offense and find ways to change.
“They won't be huge changes, but we need to get Julius more touches. You'll probably see he and E in the backfield at the same time. We're kind of trying to merge our two offenses (the spread and pro-I formations), but we're not really putting in a whole lot of new stuff.”
The defense has kept Lincoln in games this season, and was practically a wall against Memorial's rushing attack last week, yielding only 51 yards on 30 carries.
That stout defense will be tested often this week, as Jasper utilizes a triple-option efficiently. The Wildcats have had multiple scoring drives this season without even attempting a pass.
Senior fullback Lance Dawkins leads the attack, but Jasper utilizes a committee, and it was senior quarterback Blake Mann that led them last week with 135 yards on 27 carries.
“They're hard to get off the field, and they do a good job running that system,” Salters said. “Mann is an athletic, physical runner, and Dawkins is physical too. He'll probably get most of their carries, but they have three or four good running backs that they line up at the wings.
“This will be a physical game up front, and we have to play assignment-based defense. That's how you have to play it, being disciplined.”
Jasper breezed through the first part of its schedule to a 5-0 start before dropping consecutive games at Evansville Central and Castle, but including last week's win at North, the Wildcats have played three straight games down to the final possession.
Jasper handled the Alices, 35-19, in their final Big Eight Conference game last year, but Lincoln earned wins in the previous two meetings.
Evansville Mater Dei|4-4|178|110
Last Friday's results
Memorial 21, Lincoln 6
Central 14, Castle 3
Mater Dei 49, Harrison 15
Reitz 49, Bosse 0
Jasper 23, North 16
Lincoln at Jasper
Castle at Memorial
Bosse at Harrison
North at Central
Reitz at Mater Dei
First downs |84 |115
Rushes-yards |210-843 |253-1234
Passing (C-A-I) |82-171-8 |91-149-11
Passing yards |1067 |1187
Total yards |1910 |2421
Penalties-yards |78-647 |60-487
SCORE BY QUARTERS
Lincoln |53-62-21-6 — 142
Opponents |61-38-35-49— 183
RUSHING |Att. |Yds. |Avg. |TD
E Smith |90 |453 |5.0 |2
Quinn Miller |14 |154 |11.0 |2
Jackson Johnson |33 |117 |3.5 |1
Julius Hardiman |25 |103 |4.1 |2
Eric Vickers |39 |9 |0.2 |1
DeJuan Gillis |3 |7 |2.3 |0
Austin Waggoner |1 |3 |3.0 |0
Blake Mincey |1 |1 |1.0 |0
Sebastian Steele |1 |-1 |-1.0 |0
Coleton Pfoff |2 |-2 |-1.0 |0
PASSING |C-A-I |Yds. |TD
Eric Vickers |79-165-7 |1021 |9
Elijah Hovland |1-1-0 |27 |0
Coleton Pfoff |2-3-0 |19 |0
Zach Steffey |0-1-0 |0 |0
Quinn Miller |0-1-1 |0 |0
RECEIVING |Rec. |Yds. |YPC |TD
Quinn Miller |29 |343 |11.8 |2
Blake Mincey |16 |249 |15.5 |3
Coleton Pfoff |10 |188 |18.8 |2
Payton Curry |13 |146 |11.2 |1
E Smith |5 |79 |15.8 |1
Elijah Hovland |3 |31 |10.3 |0
DeJuan Gillis |2 |21 |10.5 |0
Ty McNeece |1 |6 |6.0 |0
Jackson Johnson |3 |4 |1.3 |0
SCORING |TD |XP |2XP |FG |Pts.
Quinn Miller |6 |0 |0 |0 |36
Blake Mincey |3 |0 |1 |0 |20
E Smith |3 |0 |1 |0 |20
Julius Hardiman |3 |0 |0 |0 |18
Coleton Pfoff |2 |0 |1 |0 |14
Jonathan Soderling |0 |10 |0 |0 |10
Andrew Brown |1 |0 |0 |0 |6
Payton Curry |1 |0 |0 |0 |6
Jackson Johnson |1 |0 |0 |0 |6
Eric Vickers |1 |0 |0 |0 |6