As the days get shorter and the nights get longer. As the temperatures are supposed to get cooler and kids report back to the classroom, athletes are once more taking the field. That group includes, but certainly isn't limited to football players. In Clay County, that means Northview Knights football.
And for the first time in quite a few years according to several longtime boosters, there has been a buzz that has grown ever since the basketballs were put away in the winter. Ironically it was about that time that many of the 2003 gridiron warriors started hitting the weightroom hard and true, intent on laying another layer of bricks on the foundation that was cemented with last year's second place Western Indiana Conference finish.
For Northview fans, there was plenty of excitement during last year's 4-6 season as the Knights came a handful of plays away from winning their first WIC title. Judging by last Friday's scrimmage attendance, plenty of folks remember how much octane the squad supplied to the collective bloodstreams of their fans. This year an explosive offense that hooked up for double digit 20+ yard single play scoring strikes, returns nearly intact, and a defense that struggled early and progressed while learning defensive coach Dan Mikesell's new system on the fly has had a year to mature and bulk up.
All signs point to another exciting season for the hometown Knights, a fact that head coach George Gettle is cautiously optimistic about. "I think we'll be better. These kids worked hard in the offseason and I know that will pay off somehow. I'm not sure how if it will translate to the win/loss columns," commented Gettle. "I don't think that we're at the top yet. This is really my first full year with the program when I can run my weight program and work with the youth camps. I know the community's expectations are pretty high but I don't think they are any higher than the ones that these kids have," noted Gettle."
Certainly opinions of the program are beginning to change and people outside the area are beginning to take notice of a team on its way up.
The Knights were voted the 27th best 4A football team in the state according the Indiana High School Football Coaches' Poll recently released. Northview received six votes along with Franklin County. Fort Wayne Dwenger is the top ranked team after their 13-2 season last year.
Part of the respect the Knights are receiving can likely be traced to a difficult schedule that includes the Class 3A No. 8 preseason team and defending WIC champion West Vigo, along with Class 4A No. 3 Vincennes who lost just once last season. The Knights also get to tangle once again with Terre Haute North, the state's 10th biggest school and a Bloomington North team that received a first place vote in the coaches' poll and sits in 14th in Class 4A.
In the offseason Northview senior quarterback Logan Whitman was nominated by coaches around the Wabash Valley to be one of several athletes to appear on the cover of the 2003 Indiana High School Football Preview Magazine. Lo and behold, the powers that be, selected Whitman to appear alongside Indiana Mr. Football candidates Curtis Painter of Vincennes Lincoln and Mike Vlahegorge of Lafayette Jeff. Both players are senior quarterbacks and have a bevy of Division I schools lined up to court them. Most definitely, wins bring attention to a team and if the adage 'Success breeds success' holds true, the Knights could be primed for something special beginning tomorrow night at Bloomington North.