By CAREY FOX
By all accounts the 2003 football season did not get off to the start that Northview head coach George Gettle expected. In fact, after a 41-6 defeat to Bloomington North, Gettle was downright disappointed in his team's execution.
"We turned the ball over three times bang-bang-bang. When you do that, chances are your going to get beat," said Gettle. "I was disappointed. Last year we had a lot of turnovers and I thought, this year, that isn't going to happen, but it did."
Despite the final score, Gettle noted the facts that all point to the fact that the game was a lot closer than the final score indicated.
For instance, despite turning the ball over the first three times they had possession, the Knights went into the locker room trailing just 21-6. Northview had also deferred possession to the second half so, in reality, they trailed by just two touchdowns and had the ball to start the second half. Add in the fact that they drove the ball into Cougar territory on that drive and were basically a dropped pass away from making the contest a one TD game and you can understand Gettle's initial frustration.
But he has re-focused the team on this week's opponent, the Edgewood Mustangs whom the Knights defeated in double-overtime, 26-23 last year.
"The kids have rebounded really well," commented Gettle. "They really had an eye opening experience in the film room on Saturday and they saw their mistakes."
Those mistakes were what the team focused on changing this week in practice and according to Gettle the team is on the right path. "Last week we probably had one of our worst practices leading up to the Bloomington game. This week we've probably had our two best practices the last couple of days. We've strung together some good consistent practices so the kids are really focused."
What the team will be focusing on is an Edgewood team that, through graduation, has gotten younger, but not necessarily weaker. "Looking at them on film, you can see that they've gotten better," said Gettle. "They are coming off a disappointing loss last week (34-8 to Salem) and they are in year two with their new coach. They are getting better."
The parallels are easy to draw between the two teams as each are coming off a tough loss and are in their second year with a new coach. However, for Edgewood, the problem lies in trying to replace some of their skill players in key positions.
Though senior quarterback Jake Burch returns, he was just 10-of-22 with four interceptions last year. The big loss is at the fullback position where Blake Lindsey graduated.
Lindsey did much of the damage for the Mustangs last year, scoring all three touchdowns on runs of 59, 11 and one yard as Edgewood raced to a 20-0 lead.
Also gone are kicker Nat Walden who hit a 17-yard fieldgoal in overtime last season vs. the Knights and receivers John Nappo, Kyle Peterson and Shane Hogan along with linemen Jon Brooks and Charles Shultz. Linebackers Jon Hatt, Jon Gastineau and Mike Collier have also moved on.
Edgewood will have a boatload of young lineman who will have to match up with a much improved set of Knights across from them. The Mustangs have no fewer than 15 freshman or sophomore lineman on their roster compared with just five seniors.
Despite that fact, Gettle believes the team is improved from last year. "From looking at them on tape, they look a little bit bigger and though they lost their fastest kid (Lindsey), their overall team speed looks better."
No doubt that both teams will be looking for a big improvement on their first week results. That, coupled with the fact that each squad has the opening game jitters out of the way says that this should be a good one according to Gettle. "I'm expecting a good old fashioned WIC (Western Indiana Conference) football game. I'm expecting a good game."
Kickoff at Northview will be at 7:30 p.m.