-Battle for WIC supremacy on the line at Northview Friday-
It's time for a showdown at Northview High School Friday night. Ask about any Knight's football fan and they'll tell you that their win over former Class 4A top-ranked Vincennes Lincoln two weeks ago was big. But the win they really want is against their opponent this week, the West Vigo Vikings.
Every team has a rival, whether it be professional, college or high school. The Green Bay Packers have the Chicago Bears, the Miami Hurricanes have the Florida Gators and the Northview Knights have the Vikings.
Last year the Knights were battling for the top spot in the Western Indiana Conference with the Vikings when they traveled to Vigo County. But in that game the Knights already had one loss on the season (Owen Valley) while West Vigo went on to an unbeaten regular season with a 35-21 win over the Knights.
This one could be for all the marbles.
The Knights come into the game with a 5-2 overall mark and a 4-0 conference mark while the Vikings are 7-0 and also 4-0 in the WIC. By all accounts this could decide the conference winner with no other WIC team with fewer than one loss. That team is Sullivan who was already thumped by Northview and who hasn't played the Vikings yet either.
In case you needed any more reason to put an exclamation point beside this game, the Vikings are currently ranked fourth in the AP poll in Class 3A while the Knights received votes in Class 4A.
Either way, these teams don't particularly like each other and tend towards great, hard hitting games.
Recently Northview has been on the short end of the stick on the scoreboards with losses the last three years after a 28-18 win in 1999. But more so than in any other year, these Knights have confidence and talent. And just as important, the home field complete with rabid fans with milk jugs aplenty.
The Vikings head into the contest with a strong running game led by senior Scott Cassell (6'0, 208) and junior Shawn Sullivan (6'2, 181).
Sullivan averages over 130 yards per game this season, good for nearly 1,000 yards and 12 scores.
Containing that duo was one thing that Northview was unable to do in last year's loss.
Sullivan had four touchdowns as part of a 235 yard night, all four scores were for 40-yards or more. Cassell countered with 115 yards on just eight carries.
But don't overlook receiver David Lenges (6'4, 202) who could burn Northview if they focus solely on the run. Cassell and Sullivan are the main weapons, but overloading for the ground game could be costly.
However, the Knights have been on a defensive roll of late, allowing just 75 rushing yards per game over the last two contests and just over a 100 per game in the last three games. Even more impressive is that they've shutout their past two opponents and allowed just 13 points over the last four contests.
The makeup and guile of that defense will be tested against what will probably be their most physically strong line since Bloomington North in week one. This will definitely be a gutcheck game for Northview's lines on both sides of the ball. 'Out toughing' the Viking's lines could determine the outcome of this game.
Northview will counter with a balanced offensive attack that drilled the Vikings for nearly 500 yards last year including 344 yards through the air from Logan Whitman.
In the backfield, a group that includes Jordan Garrison, Kyle Nees and Cory Grigsby give the Knights experience and the ability to control the clock if given the chance.
In last year's loss, the Knights put themselves in the hole with a fumble on their first possession of the game that led to a 40-yard Sullivan run for a score and a fumbled kick on their first possession of the second half that led to Sullivan rambling 45-yards for a score.
The Knights need to hold on to the ball on Friday night as field position could play a huge role in handling the Vikings attack.
These two teams have numerous weapons on each side of the ball and the confidence to win with either one now. Don't be surprised if Northview's crowd noise helps disrupt West Vigo enough for the Knights to add another highlight to an already special season.