Reitz continues perfect season by avenging last year's sectional loss to Boonville
- Final: Reitz 24, Boonville 0
EVANSVILLE — All things considered, Reitz was ecstatic to see Boonville as its draw for the sectional opener.
These two teams also met last postseason at Bennett Field. The Panthers, who like this year strolled in with an unblemished record, were the favorites to win the Class 4A Sectional 24 title. Possibly much more than that.
But it didn’t happen. The Pioneers bested the Panthers and pulled off one of the biggest upsets of the year in Southwestern Indiana.
On Friday night, however, Reitz got revenge against Boonville at the Bowl with a 24-0 victory. The Panthers are now 10-0 in back-to-back seasons, and it's the first time they accomplished this feat since 2009-10.
"Every win is huge no matter who you play," Reitz coach Cory Brunson said. "Our guys played well in the first half; the second half was a little different. But we still found a way, played solid defensively in the second half and came out on top."
The 4A No. 2-ranked Panthers felt they should have won last year's matchup in Boonville. They were dejected as the Pioneers stormed their field and sang their fight song. The loss especially hit hard for the current senior class. They wanted to win for their fan base more than anything — this group has helped revitalize a storied program.
"I stayed up thinking about it a lot," defensive end Levi Oxley said. "I was definitely hurt for a while because that season meant so much to us. And just to have it end like that was really, really bad."
"We had our heads way too high last year," wide receiver Roland Vera Jr. added. "And they just flat-out beat us. We just had to come in (and) take it team by team. Hopefully, we can get that sectional title this year."
What the Panthers have learned this time around is how to play with the proper perspective.
"We definitely need to stay humble and focus on one game at a time," Oxley said. "Because I think we can go really far. This team has so much potential. If we use it right, we're going to be very dangerous and hard to stop."
It was a challenge for Boonville's offensive line to stop Oxley. One of the top pass rushers in the Southern Indiana Athletic Conference, he sacked sophomore Pioneers quarterback Grant Davis often, especially in the second half.
One of those sacks came when the Pioneers (5-5) were driving into Reitz territory. They were facing fourth down, and before Davis could even scramble out of the pocket, Oxley already reached home.
It's not just Oxley who continues to shine on the Panthers' defense. Vera Jr. and Xavier Burrus routinely come up with clutch turnovers. Alex Sitzman and Calab Utley can also get to the quarterback and wreak havoc.
"It's amazing," Oxley said. "I get all the sacks, but our defensive backs are allowing me to get those sacks by locking down wide receivers. It's just a team effort. We all work together, and that's the whole point."
High school football in SW Indiana:Complete coverage from the 2023 season
Reitz will be on the road next week to face Bedford North Lawrence. This will be the first postseason meeting between the teams since 2006 as the Stars (7-3) advanced with a 27-6 win over Harrison at Romain Stadium.
Still, the Panthers will enjoy this win against Boonville. They are excited to be one step closer to reaching the sectional title, but they know not to look too far ahead.
A perfect season continues.
"We just got to have a good week of practice and stay locked in," Vera Jr. said. "We should be alright."
Courier & Press sports reporter Treasure Washington can be reached via her email, email@example.com, and on X, formerly known as Twitter, @Twashington490.