There's almost nothing better than a Gibson County rivalry football game.
And when you add family and a Homecoming celebration into the mix, it becomes so much better.
The Gibson Southern High School Titans football team are set to host the Princeton Community High School Tigers tonight for a 7 p.m. kickoff that will be preceded by Gibson Southern's Homecoming celebration.
"They're obviously a great team," said first year Tigers head coach Jared Maners. "They have a lot of tradition and history and we're treating it as the same as any other game. It's a great opportunity for us to win another week. We look forward for the competition and we've had a great week of practice for it."
"I think we had a good week of practice," said Titans head coach Nick Hart. "The kids are ready to go. It's always exciting when Friday night rolls around and they're ready to get out there and compete."
The Titans currently stand at 4-0 on the season and are 3-0 in Pocket Athletic Conference play which
See Titans/Page B2
has led to a No. 1 ranking in the AP IHSAA Class 3A poll. The Titans are coming off of a tough 28-20 victory over Henderson County on the road from last week.
Gibson Southern has had success with keeping control of the ball, but in last weeks contest senior quarterback Isaac Sellers threw a pair of interceptions while throwing for 222 yards and a touchdown and rushing 10 times for 52 yards and a pair of scores.
"We have to have a bounceback week in ball security. We had way too many turnovers last week. We've done a good job of taking care of the ball until last week. Our D-Line is playing pretty well and we'll have a challenge for our offensive line. Defensively we have to be sound assignment wise. We have to make sure everyone is where they are supposed to be."
Senior running back Dylan Stefanich returned to action last week after missing a contest with an injury and rushed 10 times for 53 yards and a touchdown and Ben Butler, after having success when Stefanich missed time, earned his share of snaps for 11 rushes for 54 yards.
Butler also had the lone receiving touchdown after recording 54 yards on two catches. Nic Maurer led the way with a team-high seven receptions for 70 yards. Wes Obermeier caught four passes for 52 yards while senior Ben Davenport tallied 38 yards on two catches.
On defense, junior Garrett Martin had a team-high 10 tackles while Mitchell Spindler had nine and Trace Matsel had eight. The trio of Tyler Goedde, Devon Montgomery and Devin Mills all had seven.
Luke Plasse had three sacks and Kalob Stuessell added another while Landon Mayer recovered two fumbles caused by Goedde and Martin.
"They're physical up front and we'll have to match it," Maners said about the Titans. "They're a team that doesn't make many mistakes. Their offense is very fluid and doesn't turn over the ball. If they do, you have to capitalize, but you can't go into the contest thinking you're going to get mistakes. We have to take care of the ball and it'll be a mental grind all night. We have to be able to match ti both ways. We're excited to match up against it and see where we stand."
The Tigers wrapped head into tonight's rivalry contest after coming back on Big 8 Conference rival Mount Carmel last week. The Tigers trailed 27-6 late in the third quarter and came all the way back for a 30-27 victory, despite turning over the ball four times in the first half.
"It's great," Maners said about the momentum heading to the Gibson County contest. "It's been a great week of practice. I know that we haven't beat Mount Carmel too many times throughout the year. After last weeks game was over, the community was telling me how good it was. No matter what Mount Carmel's record was, for us to beat them twice in 38 years, it got us over a hump. It gave us great motivation and belief that we can play with anyone. It was huge for the mindset of it that it gave our kids."
In last weeks contest, starting senior quarterback Maleek Hardiman recovered after throwing three first quarter interceptions and a second quarter fumble to finish the night 16-7 for 188 yards while rushing for three touchdowns, 81 yards on 19 carries.
"It starts with Maleek Hardiman on offense," Hart said of Princeton. "He's a terrific playmaker. They have some nice playmakers around him and do some different things on offense. That's been a point of interest for us to adjust our formation to match theirs."
Other playmakers include running back Devonte Hardiman, who rushed for 73 yards in last week's victory, and senior wideout Cory Bustos who finished the contest with 11 catches for 149 yards.
On defense, Jonathan Anslinger recorded a team-high six tackles while both Luke Drew and Devonte Hardiman had five. Devonte also recorded the lone Tiger sack in the victory. Zach Dove recorded an interception and senior Rylin Stough and junior Steffen Svec both caused fumbles that Devonte Hardiman and Ansliger recovered.
It's not just a rivalry football match, but a match between families as well. Hart and Maners are related through PCHS girls basketball head coach Brittany Maners, Jared's wife and Hart's sister.
"We both put our hearts into this and do everything we can to win," Hart said. "We never want to see each other lose. One of us is going to lose tomorrow and we both never want to see each other lose."
"We've talked every day," Maners said." You don't want to see one of your friends or family lose or be in that situation. We've got to get past that and do our job. They want to beat us bad. We have to throw a lot of the family stuff out of the picture and be ready to play. I have a lot of respect for him and we're treating it that we need to win the game."
Kickoff is scheduled for 7 p.m. with Homecoming festivities preceding the contest.