The Clay County area has long been known as a successful basketball region, but if this season is any indication, the Northview football program might deserve just as much attention for a bright future.
With numbers on the rise within the program due to a successful youth program as well as a rapidly rising winning percentage within the freshman, junior varsity and varsity ranks, Coach George Gettle has giving county residents reason to smile about Northview football.
The Knights expect to have 80 players in grades 10 to 12 next season with another 30 or more on the freshman squad. Those numbers give the Knights the depth it takes to win at the 4A level and it has shown up in the team's win/loss record.
Gettle arrived at Northview three seasons ago and led the Knights to a 4-6 campaign. One year later his squad arrived at the .500 mark and in his third season with his players, the Knights posted the most successful season in school history. Northview won nine games, a Western Indiana Conference title and a first round sectional game versus Bloomington North.
The gridiron success was acknowledged by the conference with seven All-WIC nods going to a very talented group of seniors.
Recently, the team passed out their own awards to acknowledge the work ethic and drive that it has taken for these players to reach the level of success that the program has reached.
The 2004 Captain Awards were given to seniors Brady Shoemaker and Jeremiah Allen.
Shoemaker, a first Team All-State pick by the Associated Press at his defensive back position, also was a First Team All Big State Herald Times pick and a First Team Indiana Football Coaches Association pick. It was the first time in school history that the has received all three awards. His 10 interceptions were the most in the state through the end of the regular season. Shoemaker also received the Most Outstanding Defensive Back award.
While much of the attention he received was for his work on the defensive side of the ball, Shoemaker also was a key in the Knights' offense. He caught 21 passes for 171 yards and three scores for the Knights, giving Northview a reliable third receiver to stretch the field. That versatility earned him the Team MVP award for the 2004 season.
Allen was named to the 2004 All-Valley offensive squad on the first team for his role on the offensive line for the Knights and he was also named Northview's Most Outstanding Offensive Lineman.
Heath Chamberlain, at 6'6 and 300 pounds, was a very valuable commodity on the offensive line for Northview and his determination helped him win the Mental Attitude award for the Knights this year.
On the defensive line, junior Neil Vanatti was named the Most Outstanding Defensive Lineman and was an integral part of a defense that allowed 10 or fewer points in six of the final eight games.
Also a part of that powerful defense was senior Cory Grigsby who was named the team's Defensive MVP and the Most Outstanding Linebacker.
Grigsby led the squad in tackles, added several interceptions, one for a touchdown, and was seemingly in on nearly every play on the defensive side of the ball. He made the All WIC team and was named to the All Valley Honorable Mention squad as well.
While the defense got plenty of attention for Northview, the Knights had plenty of outstanding players on the offensive side of the ball as well.
Zack Godsey was just the second running back in school history to eclipse the 1,000 yard mark in a season when he compiled 1,034 yards to go with five touchdowns on the year. His hard running gave the Knights the balance that allowed the Knights to break in a new quarterback and still win football games. He was named to the All Valley Second Team on offense and also earned a spot on the All Valley First Team on defense.
Sophomore quarterback Broc Miller made his debut this season and got stronger as the year went on, throwing for just short of 1,400 yards and 16 touchdowns. He also ran for 515 yards and scored four times with his feet and completed nearly 60 percent of his passes. Those numbers led to his being named the team's Offensive MVP for this year.
Any good quarterback credits his receiving corp and the Knights had one of the valley's best.
TJ King and Michael Landry combined for 76 catches this year and each player had six touchdowns on the year. The pair gave Miller two outstanding receivers who were a threat to go the distance at any time. Fittingly, the two were each awarded the team's Outstanding Receivers award.
Each week a great deal of preparation goes into getting ready for a new opponent and much of that falls on the scout teams.
The scout team is responsible for running an opposing team's offense or defense in order for the Knights to prepare for what they'll see on Friday night from their opposition. While the players don't often get the headlines, their work is invaluable to a team's success under the bright lights of Friday night.
Devin Hyatt received the Scout Team Offensive Player of the Year award while Trent Cox received the Defensive Player of the year award.
Eric Rissler was named the Varsity Most Improved Player of the Year award after running for 260 yards and seven touchdowns for the Knights. He also caught six passes for 107 yards.
The Reserve Most Improved Player award went to Chase Yocom.
Also of distinction is that King and Miller were named to the All Valley Academic Team for their work off the field and in the classroom.
While the prep season is over for the Knights, Gettle will lead seven of his players in one last contest.
On June 25 at Rose Hulman, Gettle will coach the North squad in an All-Star football contest sponsored by First Financial Bank.
Shoemaker, Godsey, Allen, Landry, Chamberlain, Grigsby, Trout and possibly King (depending on baseball commitments) have been selected for the game. Gettle, the Coach of the Year in the WIC, will be at the helm for the North squad.
With rising participation and success at Northview, football is rapidly becoming something to be excited about in Clay County.