Ask any coaches about where games are won and lost and most of them will tell you that the play of the offensive and defensive lines are where games are decided.
Last year the Knights had a decided disadvantage on many Friday evening's against bigger and stronger oppositions. But after an offseason spent in the weight room the Knights are much bigger and more experienced in the trenches this year.
Returning on defense will be senior All-WIC defensive end Craig Greenwood (6-3, 210) along with sophomore tackle Neal Vanatti (6-3, 270), senior Dan Hoover (6-2, 235) and junior Jeremiah Allen (5-11, 200) will split time at the other tackle position. Junior Zach Godsey (6-1, 215) will be at end as well.
Depth will be added by promising freshman lineman Joey Evinger (6-5, 285) and John Hendrix (5-10, 215) along with senior Anthony Megali (6-1, 190).
On the offensive side of the ball, Hoover returns at center with Allen and sophomore Tony Sanabria (5-11, 255) occupying the guard spots. Senior Tom Lucas (5-11, 265) and junior Heath Chamberlain (6-6, 250) will take the tackle spots.
With those starters the Knights have the experience and size to handle many offensive and defensive fronts that will be thrown at them.
On defense the Knights biggest improvement needs to be in stopping the run.
Opposing teams ran roughshod over Northview's defensive front. The Knights allowed 5.8 yards per carry and a total of 2,084 rushing yards to opponents, a number that has to change for the Knights to be successful. "Like the offense, the defensive scheme was new to a lot of these kids last year and it took a while for them to really grasp it and stop thinking on every play," commented coach George Gettle. "You could see a really big difference between last season's Bloomington North game and the sectional game against Avon. Now the scores might not indicate where we were defensively late in the year but that was because our offense just couldn't get going."
For that reason, ball control is going to be another big factor in Northview's season.
With an improved running game, the Knights can hopefully control the clock more successfully and that will help keep their defense off the field longer and provide longer breaks for their big men up front. More rest in the earlier periods mean fresher, stronger legs for the fourth quarter where the Knights were outscored 56-33 last year.
While the Knights won't dominate people up front after just one year of dedicated offseason work, the improvements should be seen this season and in the future. Line play was an area that needed a big improvement this year and the results are already showing.