Northview graduates (from left) Devon Chamberlain, Neil Vanatti, Dean Netzler and Jamie Bays will represent the Knights in this year's All-Wabash Valley All-Star game.
- Knights playing in Wabash Valley All-Star game tonight
As head coach of the North Division Wabash Valley All-Star football team, Riverton Parke's Hank Lopez offers a glowing assessment of the four graduating Northview seniors participating in this year's All-Star game.
"They're some real good kids," he said. "I've really been impressed with them."
Northview grads Jamie Bays, Devon Chamberlain, Dean Netzler and Neil Vanatti were selected by the Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association to participate in the All-Wabash Valley All-Star game, to be played tonight at Cook Stadium on the campus of the Rose Hulman Institute of Technology.
Lopez and South Division Head Coach Mark Wildman of South Putnam have spent the past week drilling 88 players from 24 schools in Indiana and Illinois into shape for the game.
It's been hard work, but Vanatti, for one, is having the time of his life.
"This is the most fun playing football I've ever had in my life," he said.
For Vanatti and Netzler, it's also probably the last time they'll play organized football. Netzler will go to Indiana University in the fall, and Vanatti, an accomplished shot-putter and discus thrower, will attend Vincennes University on a track and field scholarship.
Bays and Chamberlain have both accepted football scholarships from Marian College and will play in the program's inaugural season in 2007.
All four posted impressive numbers for the Knights during the team's '05 campaign.
Bays, a running back on offense, rushed for a team-high 1,261 yards in 131 attempts, averaging 9.63 yards per carry and scoring 16 touchdowns. Chamberlain led a dangerous Knights receiving corps with 695 yards on 28 receptions, for an average of 24.82 yards per catch.
Bays also starred on defense, notching 44 solo tackles, and he and Chamberlain also made an impression as kick returners, averaging 29.33 and 30 yards per return, respectively.
Vanatti and Netzler asserted their dominance on the other side of the ball. A linebacker, Netzler recorded 34 solo tackles, 16 assists and a sack in his senior season. Vanatti, a force of nature on the Knights defensive line, got in on 26 tackles and recorded a sack of his own.
The four erstwhile Knights credited Northview Head Coach George Gettle, who took the helm when they were freshmen, for getting them there.
"I feel it represents Northview football as a program," Chamberlain said. "This shows how we've grown."
Kickoff for tonight's game will be at 7 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults with children under 12 free.