The numbers were pretty impressive last year for the Northview offense. Four games with 25+ points, three of more than 30 points. The team scored with reckless abandon in games against Sullivan and South Vermillion and even in a loss to Terre Haute North. Quarterback Logan Whitman threw for better than 1,600 yards, a sizable number for a prep signal caller in a balanced offense. The team also had five receivers who hauled in more than 200 yards worth of passes.
But there were some flaws in the machine that was the Northview offense.
The biggest hole might have been a running game that many times lacked consistency. The Knights leading rusher was Jordan Garrison who picked up just 531 yards while sharing time with graduated back Amos Wegner and several other ball carriers.
Garrison returns this season, bigger and stronger, after being one of the most dedicated Knights to offseason conditioning. He will be joined by a bevy of backs who showed promise in the team's scrimmage on Friday night.
Junior scatback Cory Grigsby provides quickness and a hardnosed rushing style despite his diminutive size. While Grigsby was listed at 5'2, 120lbs. last year, anyone who meets him head-to-head running full steam will certainly remember the blow he delivers.
The Knights also have Kyle Nees and Brian Walden in the backfield along with Jeremy Anderson to add depth.
Kyle Nees will share time as the starter with Garrison, a duo that will help balance out the offense for the Knights who often relied too much on the downfield pass to move the ball.
"I think we've certainly made some strides (in the running game)," said Gettle. "Two of our goals this year were to improve our running game and to improve our ability to stop the run."
With five of the top six rushers returning this year, the platoon will certainly be improved.
When he's on, Logan Whitman can be just plain scary for opposing defenses to handle. This being his third year as a starter behind center and with four years of experience this has all the makings of his finest year.
Finally the Knights have developed a running game to take some of the pressure off the passing attack. Northview also has a sizable offensive line that can get down and dirty in the trenches with the likes of the West Vigos and Terre Haute Norths of the world and a strong stable of receivers and tight ends return as targets.
All of that spells trouble for the opposition.
Whitman passed for 1,630 yards last year, completing 107 passes, 18 of them for touchdowns. What makes him even more valuable is his scrambling ability and quickness. He was the third leading rusher last season with 283 net yards rushing and six touchdowns. Couple all of that on a 6-2, 175 pound frame with a cannon cleverly disguised as an arm and you have some pretty nice tools to work with.
"I expect Logan, first, to a coach on the field," commented Northview coach George Gettle. "He has to be able to direct traffic and play with confidence. He's got to work on not turning the ball over but he's running the option much better and I think that comes with confidence."
Turnovers were an issue last season with the Knights who had a total of 16 interceptions that was coupled with 20 fumbles lost, a figure that needs to drop this year for the Knights to have success said Gettle. "Turnover margin is a stat that is cut and dry, you know what your going to get. If you turn the ball over fewer times than your opponent, that translates into wins."
Whitman had 14 of those interceptions last year, many of them when he threw into heavy coverage trying to make a big play. With an improved running game the need to complete 30 yard passes downfield to move the pigskin should diminish a great deal thus helping the interception rate. Also helping on the reception area will be a strong stable of receivers.
Returning as targets are T.J. King (6-0, 165), Michael Landry (5-11, 160), Craig Greenwood at tightend (6-3, 210) and Anthony Megali (6-1, 190). Others who may help are Eric Rissler (5-10, 160), Brady Shoemaker (5-8, 145) and Matt Miller.
King is easily Whitman's favorite returning starter with 32 catches for 550 yards and seven touchdowns. Greenwood hauled in 17 passes for 271 yards and a pair of scores while Landry added 15 catches for another two scores.
All told the Knights return players who caught 71 of Whitman's 107 completions and over 1,000 yards of receiving.
Overall, Northview's offensive game plan will remain the same as far as play calling, however, with a season under their belt in Gettle's new scheme, the Knights should be improved across the board. If the Knights can keep their skill position players healthy and lower their turnover rate they could put up some big numbers this season, a fact not lost on Gettle. "Football is a sport that has to be run at full speed. Last year our players had to do a lot of thinking on the field instead of just using their football instincts. If we cut out a lot of our mental mistakes I think you'll see a direct correlation in wins."