While both Osage and Versailles have struggled through their first three games of the season, trying to find their new identities, this match has all of the makings to be one of the best ones around.
Last season, these two teams faced off against each other twice, once in the regular season and once in district playoffs. Osage emerged the winner in both matches, with the first match being decided by a 47-24 loss for Versailles and the second match turning into a blowout, with Osage winning the game easily with a final score of 55-13. But both matches last season were played at Osage’s turf. This year, the Tigers host the game.
This season, Versailles still looks for their first win of the season under the leadership of first-year head coach Broc Silvers and his coaching staff, while Osage picked up their first win of the season last week with a 45-20 win over Southern Boone, their first win under new quarterback Austin Riley and the new Indians.
Both quarterbacks have put up some impressive numbers over the first few games, with Michael Allen throwing for 270 yards in the Week 2 loss to Fulton, while Riley threw 16-for-29 passes for 304 yards, three touchdowns and an interception, along five carries for forty yards and two touchdowns. Both quarterbacks can run, but are not known as scrambling quarterbacks.
The rushing attack of Versailles will be the advantage for the Tigers, led by Johnathan Cunningham and fullback Dodge Anderson. Osage’s running back, Seth Crooks, has done a solid job so far on far fewer carries than the Tigers.
Through the air, both teams have solid options, though the advantage here would go to Osage with weapons like 2012 All-State Dylan Jeffries and the talented Collin Samuelson, who has shown himself to be just as dangerous when Jeffries is covered up by the defenses. A few of Versailles’ top receiving options are Kyler Turpin and Kaden Wilson, both of whom can gash a defense for big gains.
Perhaps the most dangerous options for both teams in the passing game is their tight ends. Osage just began using the position this season, with Jake Ulmer exploding on the scene and Jed Robertson following just behind. Versailles’ own Evan Lewis has great size and strength to accompany his soft hands, but it will remain to be seen if he can bounce back from some game time bumps and bruises. If he can go this week, he’ll have to be a focus of the Osage defense and offense, as he leads the defense of the Tigers from the defensive end spot.
Defensively, the two teams are much alike, with both struggling to truly find their identity just yet, and figure out how to cut out the big plays given to opposing offenses.
Page 2 of 3 - This game is always made more interesting, not just by the close proximity of the two schools, but by the district and conference implications at stake.
Coach: Broc Silvers
2012 Record: 2-8 Overall, 1-6 District
2013 Record: 0-3
Last Game: The Versailles Tigers football team lost Friday's away conference game against Warsaw by a score of 40-16.
Players to Watch:
Dodge Anderson, Sr. RB/LB: Anderson is not only a talented player on both sides of the ball, he's a team leader. Athleticism isn't the only thing needed to win games, and Anderson has enough athleticism and drive to lead this team to a victory.
Kaden Wilson, Jr. WR/DB: Wilson's playing this season has been a steady progression of just getting better, and in last week's loss, Wilson allowed just ONE catch to the receivers he covered, but he'll get a handful in the game against Osage.
Alex Cable, Sr. OL/DT: Cable led the team in tackles against Warsaw last week, with 8.5 tackles, 2.5 for a loss. Dominating at the line of scrimmage could be a big step in finding a way to win.
Coach: Dan Henderson
2012 Record: 7-5 Overall, 4-3 District
2013 Record: 1-2
Last Game: The Osage Indians football team won Friday's away conference game against Southern Boone by a score of 45-20.
Players to Watch:
Jake Ulmer, Sr. TE/LB: Ulmer had a huge night in last week's win, finishing with 110 yards on three catches, including an 80 yard touchdown catch-and-run. The new addition of tight end to this Indian offense has been nothing short of stellar, producing big plays when they need them. Between Ulmer and Jeb Robertson, a tight end has caught a touchdown pass in each of Osage's game this season,
Collin Samuelson, Jr. WR/DB: Samuelson exploded in last week's victory over Souther Boone, pulling in five receptions for 98 yards receiving and a touchdown, along with a pick-six.
Justin Heiser, Jr. RB/DB: Heiser led the Osage defense last week with five solo tackles, five assists and a forced fumble. He also managed five catches in the game on offense, including a 12-yard touchdown pass.
Versailles Keys to Winning:
1. Establish the run. The Mustangs' number one weapon on offense is their run game, and they have enough options to carry the ball that they could dizzy a defense by running circles around them.
2. Eliminate turnovers and big plays. The Tigers made a big step in last week's game by cutting down the turnovers, but they have to continue doing it for every game. The big plays have been the bane of the Versailles' defense and special teams this season, but Coach Silvers says the defense has improved quite a bit in last week's loss.
Page 3 of 3 - 3. Contain the passing game of the Indians. Osage's Austin Riley has done a solid job through the air, throwing for over 300 yards last week. Versailles' defensive backs have been improving against some very talented receivers, but the duo of Jeffries and Samuelson may be the biggest test for them yet.
Osage Keys to Winning:
1. Contain the Tigers' run game. Osage’s defense is made up of a number of younger players, but they all have experience. Last season, though Osage won both meetings, the Tigers were able to gash the Indians' defense for big gains on the ground. All they have to do is play smart, make their tackles and provide the team with a stop. Swarm towards the ball, and let sheer numbers stop the play if you have to.
2. Dominate the game at the line of scrimmage. Getting the right push (or pull) at the line can be the make or break moment in a play, and everything starts at the line.
3. Get the ball to the playmakers. Osage has a number of talented receivers and tight ends, so making sure to put that ball in their hands could be the difference in the game, so the offensive line has to be sure to give the play time to develop, and let Riley find one of his receivers in the best possible matchup.