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Mater Dei-Reitz prepare for annual ‘Battle at the Bowl’ rivalry

Both teams competing to win the historic West Side Nut Club Trophy on Friday night
Published: Oct. 12, 2021 at 10:56 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 14, 2021 at 12:11 AM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - It’s rivalry week in the Tri-State.

With the West Side Nut Club Trophy once again up for grabs, the Mater Dei and Reitz football programs are in preparation mode to compete in the annual “Battle at the Bowl” on Friday night.

The Wildcats (6-2) head into the week confident, riding a three-game winning streak entering Friday’s showdown.

On the other side, the Panthers (3-5) are coming off a high note after handily defeating Bosse in a 35-8 victory last Friday, breaking a five-game losing skid in the process.

But when it comes to the “Battle at the Bowl” matchup, everyone associated with the rivalry knows that records are quickly thrown out the window.

“It’s the best one of the year,” Reitz quarterback Nate Staley said. “It’s always a good game, it doesn’t matter the record, it’s Mater Dei.”

“It’s really funny because you were on a team with them at one point and you’re friends with them, and now you get to go compete against them,” Mater Dei senior lineman Nicholas Boots said. “You’re friends before the game, but during the game, you want to knock their head off. Then after the game, you’re friends again. It means a lot to me. I’ve had two brothers that I’ve watched growing up play in the games, and I didn’t know what it meant really growing up. But when I got here, it means a lot to the team.”

[READ MORE: IHSAA releases 2021 football sectional pairings]

Reitz head coach Cory Brunson has now coached and played in this rivalry, so he knows what’s at stake.

”These guys grew up together, playing together in the junior league together, so it’s definitely bragging rights,” Brunson said.

The Wildcats have been balanced on offense all season with quarterback Mason Wunderlich under center and running back Joey Pierre toting the rock.

Mater Dei’s defense has also been stout, only allowing 15 points per game.

“It’s a great rivalry, a great statement about the west side, and the [Evansville Junior Football League] and these guys playing together as youngsters, and now they’re playing against each other on Friday night,” Mater Dei head coach Mike Goebel said. “We’ve got fathers who played for Reitz, fathers who played for Mater Dei and uncles, split families sometimes, with siblings. It’s just a great rivalry. It’s been voted number one in the state for a good reason.”

Reitz is set to host Mater Dei at the Reitz Bowl on Friday at 7 p.m.

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