The sheer drawing power of the annual “Milk Bowl” game between Breese area rivals Central and Mater Dei can be seen in a lot of ways.
In voting for St. Louis Rams High School Game of the Week, it easily outpaced the other three games being considered by drawing nearly 131,000 votes. In three days.
Crowds have been known to surpass 3,000 with tailgating and grilling starting early in the afternoon.
“It’s lifetime bragging rights,” Mater Dei coach Jim Stiebel said. “When we were doing conditioning over the summer, the subject was ‘We lost in ’13, we lost in ’03.’ It’s definitely on our kids’ mind to go out there and win that ballgame.”
The painted old-fashioned milk can trophy bears the helmet logos and a year-by-year history of the scores. The winning teams holds it aloft like the Stanley Cup and keeps it at their school all year.
“All week it’s been in cafeteria, just an extra reminder,” Stiebel said. “It does give it a little extra vibe to it, that we’re playing for a trophy like that. One that has so much history.”
“You don’t have to pump the kids up or explain to the kids how important it is,” Central coach Brian Short said. “They know. We know from winning two years ago what it’s like to have one. The seniors were sophomores then and those guys have a taste for it.
FRIDAY’S GAME: Central (4-0) at Mater Dei (2-2), 7 p.m.
RANKINGS: Central is 16th in the Class 4A state rankings and third in the BND Small-School rankings; Mater Dei is fourth in the BND Small-School rankings.
LAST MEETING: Mater Dei won 45-12 after Central claimed the Milk Bowl in 2013 with a 29-28 victory.
THE MILK BOWL: Mater Dei owns a lopsided 27-4 advantage in the Milk Bowl series and has lost only two games to Central (not counting playoffs) since 1989. Central won in 2003 and 2013. Mater Dei leads the all-time series 31-9 and the teams have split two playoff games.
It’s lifetime bragging rights.
Mater Dei coach Jim Stiebel
SCOUTING CENTRAL: Led by an aggressive defense and huge front four, the Cougars have three shutouts in four games and have outscored their opponents 155-10.
Running back Brent Timmons has been the offensive star with 467 yards and nine touchdowns. Collin Thomas adds 182 yards and two TDs while quarterback Hunter Toeben has thrown for 400 yards and four TDs while running for 182 yards and two TDs.
“He’s quick and he’s got breakaway speed,” Stiebel said of Timmons.
Dalton Wise (six catches, 126 yards , one TD) and Ben Rakers (four catches, 100 yards, two TDs) are the top receivers.
“They’re big, they’re physical and they’re confident,” Stiebel said. “They play with passion and they’re well-coached.”
SCOUTING MATER DEI: The Knights will be playing their first home game after taking on a rough early road schedule that included losses to state-ranked Althoff and Williamsville and wins over Mount Carmel and Effingham.
“They’re schedule’s been extremely tough,” Short said. “They’re very diverse offensively. They have a very strong running and passing game and use a lot of multiple sets with a lot of motion. They make you watch a lot of different things.”
Receiver-running back Brendan “Butchie” Timmermann has emerged as the top offensive threat. He leads the team in rushing (202 yards, two TDs) along with Brady Rakers (201 yards, four TDs) while Timmermann also i the top receiver with 23 catches for 454 yards and five TDs.
Quarterback Colin Schuetz (58-of-115 for 973 yards and 11 TDs with four interceptions) threw for 355 yards and four TDs last Friday in a 61-36 win over Mount Carmel.
Defensively, Sam Krebs has 32 tackles and four sacks for Mater Dei while Lucas Koopman has a team-high 30 tackles for Central.
Week 5 games
Columbia at Carlyle, 7 p.m.
Waterloo at Highland, 7 p.m.
O’Fallon at Alton, 7 p.m.
Roxana at Greenville, 7 p.m.
Collinsville at Granite City, 7 p.m.
Belleville East at Edwardsville, 7 p.m.
Mascoutah at Civic Memorial, 7 p.m.
Jerseyville at Triad, 7 p.m.
Nokomis at Metro East Lutheran, 7 p.m.
Freeburg at Red Bud, 7 p.m.
Central at Mater Dei, 7 p.m.
Dupo at Wesclin, 7 p.m.
Cahokia at Carbondale, 7 p.m.
Centralia at Althoff, 7 p.m.
Nashville at Sparta, 7 p.m.