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HHF/GID Interview Series - Q&A with Dan "Rudy" Engler of Almanac Sports and Evansville Reitz


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Check out our Q&A with Southern Indiana Rennaisance Man Dan "Rudy" Engler.  Writer, historian, publisher, wrestling referee, football guru.  Dan does it all and we discuss it right here.

Question:
As always, you seem to be a very busy guy. Tell us what has been occupying your time lately in terms of new projects and opportunities.

Answer:
I definitely try to stay busy. I love spending time with my wife and three kids, but when I have some spare time, I really enjoy doing research for my websites, AlmanacSports.com and ReitzFootball.com.

Currently, I'm creating a fundraiser that can be implemented with virtually no cost to the school. I've published over a dozen books now and, if a school wants to do a book on the history of their team or school, it's something I can help with. This could be done as a a fundraiser or just to preserve your school's history. If anyone is interested, they can reach me at dan@englerpublishing.com for more details.

Another project I'm working on is my latest book, which will focus on the history of Hoosier High School football. It's a big project but I'm having fun working on it.

Question:
You've got a very interesting background. How did you get involved with professional wrestling, and are you still involved today?

Answer:
I would go to the weekly wrestling matches in Evansville and usually watch the referee. I thought it would be a fun to do that, and a friend helped me work up the nerve to go talk to the referee after the show. That was my senior year of high school (graduated in 1996). I started training, working shows in the area and worked my way up the ladder. I'm still involved and now referee for WWE, and I've been with them since 2013.

Question:
Southern Indiana high school football went thru some major conference changes over the past few seasons. Now that all the chips have fallen, what is your assessment of the new lineups in terms of potential strengths and weaknesses.

Answer:
I'm not quite sure yet. Jasper and Vincennes are a great addition to the SIAC but I wish there were still some non-conference games. The Wildcats' rivalries with Southridge and Heritage Hills are victims of that, as is the Evansville vs. Kentucky rivalry that had developed quite a bit.

I would have loved to have seen Gibson Southern in the SIAC too but I don't dislike how things turned out. I would also love to see a PAC championship game between the division winners but that could still happen.

Question:
Your school, Evansville Reitz, a real Indiana football blueblood, has run into some tough times over recent seasons. Do you attribute this to issues within the program, or improving outside competition?

Answer:
It's a cycle. Reitz was unstoppable fifty years ago but they had some very challenging seasons in the 80s and 90s. The 2000s were great with two state title runs but now we're struggling again. However, I think the program, as a whole, is strong. Reitz fans are great, but their expectations are high, and if you're not having a championship season, they will not be happy.

I think it's a testament to the overall strength of the city. Central and Memorial have had some great seasons recently. Mater Dei and North are always to be reckoned with, as well. Bosse and Harrison are down but are working to improve.

Question:
Without a doubt, fans of the SIAC, PAC and Hoosier Hills are the most active and dedicated to their schools and their conferences in terms of posting activity on The Gridiron Digest. These guys really love to get into the weeds and discuss deep details about their schools. Why do you think we see so much more activity from the south than we do from the central and the north on The GID?

Answer:
Basketball is king in the Hoosier state, but for some reason, high school football seems to be the more popular sport in Southern Indiana. When someone is talking about the Reitz-Mater Dei rivalry, you don't even have to ask which sport. Fans down here know that we're talking football.

Maybe it's because we don't have a pro or college team down here. I don't know. I'm really not sure why, but this passion is definitely reflected in our Gridiron Digest community, as well.

Question:
It seems as if the publics and privates get along better in the SIAC than in most other areas of the state. Of course, that could just be outside perception. What is the reality on the ground in Evansville, and do you see any trends developing relative to the overall strength of the private schools.

Answer:
I haven't really seen any trends, but the public and private schools do seem to get along better down here. Maybe it's that there aren't as many private schools in this part of the state or that the rivalries have been so intricately intertwined for almost 100 years.

Question:
What are your thoughts on the Success Factor? Has it had much impact on the south?

Answer:
I do like it, but it would be interesting to see a relegation component to this, as well. It has definitely had an impact. Memorial's success has put them into Class 4A. In 2019, Central beat the Tigers in the regular season, but Memorial avenged the loss in the sectional championship and went on to win the 4A crown. Without the success factor, could Central have won state that year? Very possibly.

Question:
How is the current relationship between southern Indiana schools and their friends in northern Kentucky? Are there any budding rivalries, or has the new SIAC round robin schedule put some distance between the two states?

Answer:
Definitely put a cramp into that relationship. As mentioned earlier, SIAC schools no longer have room on their schedule for outside competition, and in the PAC, only Gibson Southern has a Kentucky opponent scheduled. The two states have such a close history over the past 100+ years, it's a shame to see that fade.

Question:
Do you have any darkhorse contenders you see coming out of the south to possibly make a deep state title run in 2021.

Answer:
There's so many question marks. After such a weird season last year with COVID and several new coaches, it's really hard to tell. Gibson Southern has a great shot to go far in Class 3A. They'll be led by all-state quarterback, Brady Allen, who has committed to Purdue. I could see Jasper making a run if the Evansville schools knock themselves off. Class 5A in this area looks wide open and Castle or even North could easily be playing in semi-state.

Thanks again!
Dan

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