This is the chance that every high school football player waits for, or should, the opportunity to lineup against the very best. Friday evening all eyes will be watching the activity at Northview High School where the Knights will matchup with 4A No. 1 ranked Vincennes Lincoln (5-0).
On Friday, 51 Northview football players will get what could possibly be their only shot at achieving a form of football immortality, beating the best.
According to Northview head football coach George Gettle the game is special for different reasons. "We've been preaching to the kids this week that this is one shot in a lifetime, what could be their only chance to play a top-ranked team. They'll have to rise to the occasion."
The Knights dropped a 38-6 decision to the Alices last season who were ranked No. 4 at the time.
But that score is deceiving when you consider that through 22 minutes of the first half, the Knights were behind just 7-0 before a fumble at the four-yard line gave Vincennes the opportunity to score two quick strikes before the half.
Back for Vincennes is skilled quarterback Curtis Painter, who has the size (6'4) and the arm to be headed to Purdue to showcase his skills. Painter is averaging nearly 150 yards through the air this season and has mobility to move the ball as well. "He's one of the best quarterbacks in the state," said Gettle on Thursday. "They have a lot of designed draws and plays that put him on the move. If (Painter) sees it, he'll definitely tuck it and run."
But before people start to believe that the Alices are a run-and-gun sort of passing team, note that Vincennes also has their starting tailback, Chris Lawson, who returns.
Lawson averages about 100 yards per game and gives Vincennes a dynamic and balanced attack. "They have a talented QB, but their game plan is to run," commented Gettle. "Painter only throws the ball about 14-16 times a game. They really try to keep a balanced offense."
One thing in Northview's favor on Friday night is that the Vincennes offense really has not exploded for big numbers often this season. The Alices have scored 41 and 36 points versus teams with a combined 1-9 mark while tallying just 17 versus Boonville who is 3-2, 16 versus winless Terre Haute South and 10 against 2-3 Jasper. So points have been tough to come by at times for Vincennes.
But despite the lack of points, Vincennes is still 5-0, a fact that is a direct result of the defense that Gettle believes makes the Alices a top-ranked squad.
"Their defense seems to be playing really well. Their offense isn't scoring a lot, but on the flipside their defense isn't giving up many points. They are a pretty solid unit who is good at getting to the football."
Chasing the football is something that Northview fans hope the Alices are doing a lot of on Friday night as the Knights get their powerful offense rolling.
The Knights have rang up 1,894 yards of offense this year compared to 1,619 at this time last year with the most improved facet being the running game. Northview has 863 rushing yards this year, averaging nearly 173 per game. That translates to nearly 40 yards more per contest than last year.
The rushing attack has more than one weapon as quarterback Logan Whitman has run for 313 yards followed by senior Jordan Garrison who has 199 and Cory Grigsby who adds 184 yards.
Meanwhile the passing attack is just as strong with Whitman throwing for 1,031 yards on 53-of-118 passing for six touchdowns.
Whitman, according to statistics, has one of the top targets in the state hauling in his passes.
Junior wide receiver Michael Landry has pulled in 20 catches for 520 yards this season, good for 104 yards per game. Behind only David Haygood of Broad Ripple who averages 106 per game.
Landry is backed by a group of talented pass catchers in T.J. King who has 16 catches for 229 yards and tightend Craig Greenwood who has 15 catches for 220 yards.
On defense the Knights have improved by nearly 70 yards per game from last season, allowing just 230.4 yards a game in the 2003 season. However, the Vincennes offense will certainly be one of their toughest tests so far. But the Knights do have one advantage in their defensive preparations. Their offense.
Competing against a multi-faceted offense with a mobile quarterback in practice is a big bonus according to Gettle.
"Having (Logan Whitman) at quarterback to run the scout team is definitely an advantage. Plenty of teams don't have a quarterback who can simulate a Curtis Painter so that certainly helps us in our preparations."
And preparing for that one shot in a million is exhaustive work not only for the players, but the coaches.
"Vincennes causes problems because they do so much. Breaking down the film they have 20-some formations on offense before you consider motion which can double that number. On defense we've seen 17-18 different formations so preparation time is intensified because they do so much," commented Gettle. "But we've probably put more time in as far as preparing for this game than we have for any other game," said Gettle of his coaches.
"Once 7:30 p.m. hits on Friday and the lights come on, our kids have to come to play," said Gettle. "If we come out with the same intensity that we did against Terre Haute North. . .I like our chances."
So on Friday night, Northview will get their best opportunity to date, to put their names on the high school football map. A chance to turn heads across the state, an opportunity to make opponents think twice when they lineup, a chance to be known as the team that beat the best. A chance to be the best.