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The Message
Evansville, Indiana
September 25, 1987     The Message
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September 25, 1987

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12 Sports Rutter on Sports By DAVE RUTrER The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana Two games, two guys: it doesn't get much better September 25, 1987 Joey Dippel soared and twisted into the air above the northeast tip of Reitz Bowl's endzone last weekend and came down with a slice of history. On most days, a person tasked with capturing the essential drama of high school sporting events wouldn't need to look much further for a worthy topic. Little Joey -- No. 35 in the program and No. 1 in your heart. It just doesn't get much better than that. So, the answer seems obvious. We'll talk about Joey Dippel and "The Catch" this week. But wait a minute. If we do that, it will appear as though Memorial High School running back Ken Mills, the closest thing to a human thrashing machine, has been lolly-gagging around the campus recently. When it comes to doing neat things on a football field, this kid hasn't been slinging hash, you know. Maybe it's not possible to do justice to both on the same day. But we'll give it a try. First things first. Did Dippel really .... I mean REALLY .... come down in bounds with the catch that doomed the Reitz Panthers, 22-15, last Friday? Second. Is Mills for real or is this cheaper-by- the-dozen touchdown binge some sort of optical illusion? Thirdly. Well, there isn't really a thirdly. The first two are enough to chew on. The answer to question No. 1 is: it depends on whose view one is more likely to accept. Reitz coach Bill Hape probably doubts it happened the way officials said it did. And Dippel says it was close, but, yes, he did catch the ball with his feet tucked snugly inside the bounda. "I've looked at the tape and I don't have any doubt," says Dippel. "I was closer to the line than I thought when the ball came down. I was about three feet in bounds when I went up into the air and I was a couple of inches inside when I came down. Maybe about three inches. My main concern all along was trying to hold my feet in and turn my body." Even with the necessary gyrations, Dippel says the pass from junior Scott McDurmon was on time and on target. If Dippel needed any more reasons to exult over the catch, he had at least one. When Reitz tight end Brian Ashby split the Mater Dei defense for a 30-yard TD pass, it was Dippel who had been beaten on the play. That oc- curred with 3:06 to go and seemed to settle the question, pending the two-point conversion. "Yeah, that was my guy," says Dippel. "I don't have any excuses. I saw him take off and then I took off after him. But I slipped in a little mud and it was all over." EVEN WITHOUT THE winning catch, Dippel atoned for his sin in the subsequent drive when he broke off his pass pattern to level a Reitz player. The defender was chasing Todd Rohrbacher, who turned a short gain into a 41-yarder, largely because of the block. "I had a perfect angle.," he says. Then all that was required was "The Catch." "We just call the pattern a corner pass," he said. "Straight down the field and then to an open area in the corner. When Scott called the play, I sort of assumed I'd get it. He picks out receivers even before the ball is snapped. In the tape, you can see the Reitz player's hand just missing it. When I was looking for the ball, all I saw was sky." Fifty-two seconds to go and Reitz is 0-4. Thrilling? "The only thing to compare was the extra point in the Central game last year (a game- winner), but this is better. After all, it was Reitz and this is my senior .year." Reitz may be glad it won't have to see Dippel again, but the news about Mills isn't so comforting. The 180-pounder has scored four touchdowns in each of the last three games -- 13 for the year -- and coach Ralph Weinzapfel says he's going to work on Mills' "weak points." He's got another whole season after this to work out these flaws, too. Good grief. Weak points? "Well, he doesn't catch the ball as well as we'd like and he doesn't block as well as we'd like," says the Memorial coach. Other than that, he's smashing everyone into another zip code. He personally rendered Paradise, Ind., unfit for man, beast or Castle Knights last Friday. And now ponder this. If Weinzapfel can find another defensive tackle to give Mills a breather (yes, he plays tackle), the Memorial offense may feature Mills getting the ball 30 times a game, every game, rain or shine. "We haven't really geared our offense to him. It's just our regular offense," says Weinzapfel. "But he's hot, no question about that. And when you have someone with talent like that, you have to give him the ball. We've had some talented run- ning backs, but no one who's been quite this productive." MILLS SLICED AND diced Castle for 226 yards and four -- count 'em four -- touchdowns last weekend. The final score was 33-7, but it seemed worse than that. Even more staggering, the Knights gave up two touchdowns to Mills BECAUSE they were reacting to him "Absolutely, people have begun to adjust after Ken has had such great success running up the middle," says Weinzapfel. "So every time they saw our guards move, they went flying into the middle. He hit the middle and then cut right. They were flying around, but he just stepped out twice and ran around the end. We told him on the sidelines to watch for that. Sometimes it's better if a defender plays his own position." What makes Mills so good? He's strong, fairly quick and the possessor of superb running in- stincts. "I think he sees the field well, and he gets his center of gravity low," says Weinzapfel. Then there's Memorial's offensive line which has been hacksawing the opposition into small chunks. Quarterback Brian Holt is slicker than a Posey County highway on a rainy night, and Wein- zapfel has a few other running backs up his long sleeve, too. Eventually, someone might find a way to slow down Mills, but I'm not sure he can be stonewall- ed for keeps..In the area of playoff wars, he could be heavy artillery. It figures. He wears No. 38 and that's an ap- propriate number -- for a running back or a Smith and Wesson. K of C football league play continues The first regular season In the second game, St. games for the Memorial High Theresa/Holy Redeemer School/Knights of Columbus defeated St. Benedict, 40-0. Council 565 grade school foot- Team scorers were Greg ball league were held last Shellhouse with 18, Jim weekend at Memorial Tiger Bockting with 13 and Matt Field, Evansville. Vollman with 7. Holy Rosary/Good Shepherd This weekend, St. defeated Christ the King/Holy Theresa/Holy Redeemer will Spirit, 34-0. Team scorerswere meet Christ the King/Holy Matt Swanson with 24, Shawn Spirit at I p.m., followed by the Merkel with 8 and Brian Henn- Holy Rosary/Good Shepherd- ing with 2. 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