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September 6, 2013
St. Xavier will host the Bowling Green Purples in the most highly anticipated game of the early 2013 football season.
Both teams are undefeated entering the game. St. Xavier with wins over Ballard, where they got a little more than they may have expected, and Lexington Catholic in the Bluegrass Bowl a game that was delayed a day and the Tigers dominated the Knights.
Bowling Green was also to participate in that Bluegrass Bowl, though inclement weather would bring cause for cancellation of their game against Bryan Station. With that being said, the Purples have only played one game in 2013 and it just so happens to be Lexington Catholic, the same team St. Xavier played last week.
Week one, or zero as KHSAA Commissioner Tackett insists on it being called, Bowling Green faced off against Lexington Catholic. The game was played at Houchens Industries-L.T. Smith Stadium (WKU's home field) which was essentially a home game for the Purples. Bowling Green would go on to win their 31st straight game 48-21 over the Knights to open up the season.
St. Xavier got their shot at the Knights last Sunday, this time Lexington Catholic was the home team. The result would remain the same for the Knights, losing this time 49-28. Two pretty similar results between the two schools against a common opponent.
Reasons for worry
In only two games, St. Xavier has given up 125+ yards to three individual receivers. In week one against Ballard 2014 wide receiver Will Bush tallied up 127 yards and a touchdown to only be out done by teammate Rollin Green who had 131 yards and a score on ten receptions.
In their game last week against Lexington Catholic the Tigers once again gave up staggering numbers to a receiving target. This time it was sophomore standout Sam Letton with 192 yards and three touchdowns.
There lies a reason for worry for the Tigers' defense, especially in that secondary. Bowling Green is home to one of the most prolific wide receivers in the Bluegrass in Nacarius Fant. Fant could spell disaster for St. Xavier, with his speed and ability to not only catch the ball but to rack up plenty of yards after catch it could be a long night for the safeties and corners in green.
Bowling Green had a pseudo bye week after the cancellation of their game against Bryan Station. Most teams plan to keep it going on the bye weeks and plan accordingly and the Purples were unable to do so. With the mental aspect of the game being so prevalent in the sport of football this may get in the way.
Going against a rushing attack like that of the Tigers' is going to be a difficult task for anyone. Bowling Green faced the pass-happy Lexington Catholic Knights. Catholic also does not have a single rusher who is more potent that any of the backs in St. Xavier's three headed monster (Walker, Purcell and Davis).
Those three combined have 484 yards and nine touchdowns thus far in the 2013 season. Keep in mind two-star running back Treyvon Purcell was absent from last week's game as well. This week though he will be back in the lineup.
Without having been up against a rushing attack of this caliber and coming off an unexpected bye week the Purples could have some problems containing the three headed monster.
Keys to the game
Other than both positions that were just hit on - St. Xavier secondary and the Bowling Green defensive/linebackers - there is a player on each team that could greatly influence this one.
To start off, the home team will need a focused effort from quarterback B.J. Nagel. Nagel is a gun slinger and has had some issues with interceptions. This will also be the first big game Nagel has played at St. Xavier against competition that has recently beaten the Tigers.
For the visiting Purples, their key to the game is getting their leading rusher Blue Tisdale going as they did in the Rafferty's Bowl to begin the season. He had 139 yards on 15 carries in that game, if he can get numbers like those again it could really help to balance out their offense and put even more pressure on the St. Xavier defense.
At the end of the day
This will most definitely be a test for both schools. St. Xavier has their back against the wall not only in this game but overall. Bowling Green has beaten the Tigers in both of their most recent previous matchups and the Tigers have been without a state championship since 2009 and it doesn't help that in-town rival Trinity has claimed all of those championships since. With a new coach and staff this game could be the one that gets the Tigers over the hump.
Bowling Green, as previously mentioned, is on a 31-game winning streak and has dominated Class 5-A in recent years. If the Purples do go down in defeat good news for them is they won't see a team of this caliber on their way to a state championship, but there's something more there. This year the Fant, Hayes and Blue era will draw to an end so winning this big-time game could mean even more down the road when this class is compared to others by Purple faithful.