The casual fan might believe that the 2003 Northview football season got underway with Friday evening's scrimmage with Indianapolis Manual.
But they'd be wrong.
Nearly nine months of dedicated sweat and toil had gone on behind the scenes for most of the players that roared onto the Northview field on Friday night.
That work seems to be paying off already as the Knights dominated much of their controlled scrimmage versus the Redskins.
The Knights defense was the real talk of the evening. A bigger, stronger and fiercer squad of starters and reserves allowed just two touchdowns over the course of the evening and unofficially allowed just 103 yards on just over 50 plays.
Matt McCluskey gathered in an interception during the second defensive series and Dean Netzler recovered a fumble for the Knights. "Our defense, at times, played well," commented head coach George Gettle. "Our goals are to grow as a team and we're accomplishing that. We're not only bigger, but more importantly we're stronger."
No where was that more noticeable than on the offensive and defensive lines where the Knights handled a sizable Manual line on both sides.
The Knights struggled against the run last season and on Friday they showed that with their new size, strength and temperament, opposing teams may be in for a rude awakening.
On offense, senior quarterback Logan Whitman saw action behind center for the opening three series before giving way to Jacob Reece. While there, Whitman completed six passes for 141 yards and a pair of touchdowns, one of 60 yards to Michael Landry and another to T.J. King of 10 yards. He also ran for another 12 yards.
Jordan Garrison looked strong on both sides of the ball, including running back where he picked up 33 yards on seven carries with a pair of scores. Cory Grigsby bulleted his way to 38 yards on just six rushes, drawing the praise of Gettle. "I think Cory (Grigsby) played the best of all. If we can get the entire team to play with as much heart as he displayed here tonight we'll be all right. Our offense played well tonight when they were focused," said Gettle. "But there were also times when we lost that. . .We found some things we need to work on, but we saw a lot of things we did right."
Northview got some solid efforts from Brian Walden at running back despite a fumble. Walden also ran for a pair of touchdowns and showed a powerful running style.
Backup QB Reece, also showed some flashes with a pair of touchdown tosses. His emergence is characteristic of another big improvement for the Knights this season. Depth.
"Last year we didn't have a whole lot of depth," commented Gettle. "But this year we're developing that a lot more. We're pretty deep at line where we've also got some size and we even have three quarterbacks this season. Our numbers are up a little bit this year and that is also helping out."
While Friday night was basically just a glorified practice against another team, the Knights showed flashes of things to come for their fans. All the hard work in the offseason will count for real beginning next Friday night at Bloomington North High School as the Knights face the Cougars at 7:30 p.m.