McKenzee Nash recognizes Southside fans will likely come out in bigger numbers tonight than they will the rest of the season. The Rebels play their final home game of the year at 7 o’clock against Anderson Preparatory Academy. They’ll then finish the season with three consecutive road games — their three longest trips of the season.
So the senior running back/defensive back is hoping the Rebels play one of their best games for the fans who might not make one of the hour-plus trips to see them play again. The rest of the schedule includes games at Connersville, Fort Loramie, Ohio, and South Dearborn.
“A lot of people don’t travel to the away games,” Nash said. “…This is our last home game, so we want to go out with a bang.”
The Rebels are 3-1 after the first five weeks of the season (their game Sept. 7 against Leo was declared a no contest when it was halted due to inclement weather.) As coach Mike Paul looks over those first four games, he said his team could have easily lost all four. He also believes the Rebels could just as easily be 4-0.
Three of their games have been decided by exactly three points each, the lone exception being their 13-point win against Central, a game in which Central led early in the second half. Southside came back to beat Jay County 20-17 last week for its latest victory. The Rebels trailed the Patriots most of the game.
“Every game has been a close game,” Paul said. “So they’re kind of used to playing these games (where) the last drives are important, or it’s very important to get a first down. I think they’re kind of used to it.”
Paul said playing in so many close games has taught his team the importance of every possession. That knowledge, mixed with the Rebels’ offensive firepower, has Paul confident his team can score points. For a team to beat the Rebels, he said, the key is to keep the ball out of their hands and control time of possession. The Rebels’ lone loss was a 27-24 loss to Connersville on Aug. 31, and Paul said the Spartans used a strategy based on ball control.
Anderson Prep will attempt the feat tonight. Southside is a larger school, competing in 4A while the Jets compete in Class A. Anderson Prep is 2-2, its two wins coming against other Class A schools (Monroe Central and Indiana Deaf.) Southside has two wins against Class 4A teams and another against Class 3A Yorktown.
Nash cautions that while he sees the game as winnable for the Rebels, he thinks the Jets are better than public perception. Paul said Anderson Prep’s strength lies in its offensive athleticism, especially at wide receiver, in the slot, and at tailback.
“They have three very good athletes,” Paul said. “That’s what we talked about, starting on Saturday when we got the film on them. Those three athletes stand out. Those are the guys, we talked about them. And I just said, ‘We could have 45 great plays on defense, and you could have four bad ones and they have four touchdowns.’ “