No. 13 Benedictine and No. 20 Baker will meet for 37th time Saturday.
This rivalry has arguably been the most significant in the Heart of American conference and recent memory.
Coach Larry Wilcox said the contest between the two teams always seems to be season changing in some way.
“There is a unique intensity to both schools,” Wilcox said. “There have been a lot of important games played between the two schools that determine conference championships and national playoffs over the years.”
The Ravens (7-2, Heart 2-1) will travel to the Wildcats for the second straight season and will look to have a repeat performance of their 23-12 victory in late September of 2018.
“It’s a difficult place to play no doubt,” Wilcox said. “They’re an equally strong of team this year and we’ve got our hands full, and that’s the bottom line.”
Benedictine ran the ball 62 times for 269 yards and had over thirty-seven minutes in time of possession in last year’s matchup.
Wilcox said his team will look to follow the same blueprint against an explosive Baker (7-2, Heart 3-0) offense.
“We’ve got to really be concerned about time of possession,” Wilcox said. “We’ve got to get them out of their rhythm but most importantly you’ve got to keep them out of the end zone.”
Running will be all the more important if senior quarterback Shaefer Schuetz is unable to go.
The senior suffered a knee injury against MidAmerica Nazarene and missed practice for the first time in his career as a Raven.
Benedictine will look to both sophomore quarterbacks Luke Laskowski and Garrett Kettle to fill Schuetz’s place if he can’t play.
“He’s a real competitor and he’ll be in there if it’s at all possible,” Wilcox said. “We’re hopeful and optimistic he will be but if not the other guys will have to take control.”
The Ravens are optimistic that senior running back Charlie Nihart could return for the game after missing the last three weeks with a shoulder injury.
Junior running back Issac McPherson will continue to help senior running back Marquis Stewart carry the load in the running game.
“We’re hopeful Charlie will be back but that’s still sort of an unknown,” Wilcox said. “Isaac gives another weapon to run the football and that’s what we need to do.”
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at Baker.