The 2004 high school football season heads into postseason action this Friday night as locally, Northview opens sectional play at Bloomington North at 7 p.m.
History is at stake for the Knights considering that Northview has never won a postseason game in school history. However, the Knights hope to rectify that this weekend when they face off with a familiar opponent in the Cougars.
In the opening week of the season the Knights defeated Bloomington North 16-13 in a contest that sent both teams rocketing in opposite directions. In Brazil, confidence is at an all-time high and the buzz on the street is about football rather than about how soon basketball will start. The Knights sit at 8-1 and boast a six-game winning streak while the Cougars dropped to 0-9 last week with a 19-17 loss to Southport.
At least to a degree, Northview can be said to have had a hand in how Bloomington has fared this year.
In that opening game for both squads, starting Cougar tailback Daniel Carter was forced from the game in the first half after he fractured a bone in his leg in a tackle. The injury kept from out until just two weeks ago when he returned versus Decatur Central for seven carries and then ran the ball 20 times for 220 yards in the regular season finale.
Northview head coach George Gettle is well aware of what Carter brings to the table and what his return does for the Cougars. "(Carter) seems to be back at full strength. He's an extremely quick and shifty back, comparable to Shawn Sullivan (of West Vigo). (Carter) isn't as big as Shawn, but we have planned as if he'll be healthy."
Carter in fact left the last game due to an injury though the severity of the injury was unknown at presstime.
With or without their starter, the Knights would like to shutdown the Cougar running game and force North to go to the air, a plan of attack that worked with great success in the first contest.
Northview sacked Cougar quarterback Kyle Stancomb 10 times, including five by senior defensive end Zach Godsey, who also ran for more than 150 yards, and held the Cougars to just 34 yards rushing in the game. If Northview can once more force North to throw the ball, Gettle is confident in his defense's ability to make plays.
"(Stopping the run) is something we would like to do obviously. Our line has done a great job of getting pressure this season and I think if we can force them to throw that we can make some plays."
Northview has had a great deal of success when teams are forced to throw the ball.
In seven games in which opponents have been forced to throw more than 10 times in a game, Northview has picked off 15 passes, led by Brady Shoemaker's state-leading nine interceptions.
On the other side of the ball, Gettle believes that Northview is confident in their ability to either run or pass the ball given the situation, something that Bloomington North did not see in the first game.
"Going into the first game we had a young QB and we had a conservative game plan accordingly," Gettle noted. "This time around we can do anything. We're a much better team than in the first week and we can come out with guns blazing."
Sophomore quarterback Broc Miller has shown that the Knights have the dangerous ability to move the ball through the air of on the ground as the season progressed.
In the first five weeks of the season, Miller averaged slightly less than 100 yards per game while throwing just two touchdowns. In the final four weeks of the season he has picked up the pace to the tune of nearly 200 yards per game and has 12 TD passes over that span.
Receivers Michael Landry, T.J. King and Brady Shoemaker have picked up the bulk of the catches and have played huge in the final half of the season and will be very important in Friday's game against man-to-man coverage by the Cougars.
Beating a team twice in on season is never easy and traveling to Bloomington for the game won't make things any easier, but, led by a group of 16 seniors who have made the trip from 1-9 in their freshmen years, the Knights are hungry.
"These kids know that it's tourney time and that each week the field is cut in half. We probably got the toughest draw in the sectional, but the kids know that if they lose they hang up their shoulder pads for the year."