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October 30, 1987     The Message
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October 30, 1987
 

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12 Sports The Message -- for Catholics of Southwestern Indiana October 30, 1987 Rutter on Sports By DAVE RUTTER Patriots are undefeated but Clayton isn't sure how Bob Clayton knew his tenth football team at Heritage Hills High School wouldn't be bad. This is a program that has achieved a certain level of consistent competence. Good coaching, good attitude and good skill. Six Pocket Athletic Conference titles since 1977 attest to that. But the Patriots roll into Central Stadium tonight to face eighth-ranked Memorial in a Class 3-A playoff game, and they are undefeated. Clayton -- honest, really, and apparently, no fool- ing -- didn't expect a 9-0 record. And come to think of it, he's watched the team ever since early August, and he still doesn't know how they did it. He knows why they did it, but that's a different question. They did it, he says, mostly because they wanted to do it, and saw no reason not to. "These kids play together so well as a team; that's their strongest point by far," he says. "They have found the strength within each other. It's an intangible thing. Every coach in team sports searches and hopes for that to happen. But it's hard to find." Thus has Clayton seen it happen this year, but he's not sure how the parts made the whole. "I'm very happy with them," he says. "It's a tenacious bunch of kids and they're playing the way we want them to. But I can't label it, or put my finger on it. If I could, I'd be the most suc- cessful coach in America." THE PATRIOTS ARE a severe hurdle for Memorial's Tigers largely because 6-foot-4, 208 pound junior quarterback Kenny Dilger answered the biggest question in Clayton's program. Could anyone replace Mark Bates? Based on total production, Bates was one of Indiana's top five passers last year and has since moved on to Murray State where he is redshirting as a freshman. In that void, Dilger has become one of southern Indiana's more productive quarterbacks, not only because of his passing, but also because he gives the Patriots 40-yard range on field goals. "I've probably been his biggest critic," says Clayton, "but if I have to pinpoint one reason for our season, he's done a great job running the team, especially when you consider who we lost. For Kenny to step in has been something. He's made some mistakes, but our offense hasn't suffered because of it. Physically, he's one of the best in southern Indiana. I feel by next year that mentally and physically, he'll be the best. He just runs our offense. They depend on him, and he's getting bet- ter and better. The Patriots don't customarily score big numbers, but they have surrendered only eight TDs this season (that helps). Senior Jim Schaefer, a 190-pounder, has been the chief thumper. "Defensively it's been SChaefer by far," says Clayton. "He's a tremendous hitter and has been our inside linebacker ever since he was a sophomore. He has a love for the game, and he plays tough. He's a big hitter and extremely strong." The Patriots, whose campus down the road from Dale in Spencer County is one of the area's lovelilest, also had to replace swifty Mike Crews who signed with Bali State. Clayton responded by giving the ball to almost everyone with a small number on his back. Schaefer helps, but then, he's just one of the "Dir- ty Half-Dozen." John Wetzel, Kenny Mulzer, Rod Summers, Kevin Heckel and Trent Bates all run through the revolving door. Clayton says he's just giving a bunch of guys named "joe" a chance to get in the game, but op- ponents swear the team's backfield resembles one of those Volkswagen clown vans at the circus. The door opens, and 50 guys leap out whooping and hollering. The Patriots are, insists Clayton, just a bunch of relatively small guys with average talent who play hard the entire game. "They get after it," he says. Still, that doesn't always add up to unbeaten seasons or conference titles. "There's just something inside them that makes them tick," Clayton says. "Like Dilger. Sometimes in practice he doesn't look that good. He kicks left, right, short. But in the game, something happens to him. I don't know what. But something clicks." To this point, the "clicks" have been worth nine wins. And Clayton? He still says he's as surprised as anyone. Top-ranked Mater Dei visits Gibson Southern tonight in the second game of the Class 2-A sectional. The Titans won their tournament opener 39-8 against North Knox. But before that, things had been somewhere south of dismal in Fort Branch. The Titans has been 0-8 and had scored three touchdowns all year. They hadn't scored more than one TD in any game before last Friday. Next week, we'll take a look at how the Memorial boys and girls soccer teams did in the state finals, and perhaps check in again with Darla Edwards and her volleyball Wildcats at Mater Dei. Holy Rosary/Good Shepherd wins championship Final play for the Knights of Columbus Council 565 grade school football league was held at Memorial Tiger Field on Oct. 25. The first Rame for the league's championship was be- tween Holy Rosary/Good Shepherd and St. Theresa/Holy Redeemer. Matt Swanson of Holy Rosary/Good Shepherd took the opening kick-off and ran 70 yards for the touchdown. The PAT attempt failed. This was the only score of the first quarter. In the second quarter, Matt Swanson of Holy Rosary/Good Shepherd ran the ball 21 yards around the end for the touchdown. The PAT attempt failed. The second score of the quarter came on a pass intercep- tion by Jay Rogers of Holy Rosary/Good Shepherd for a 61-yard touchdown run. The PAT attempt failed. 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