The Knights didn't get a victory, losing to the Castle Knights, a Class 5A team from near Evansville, 30-7. But winning the non-conference game was just one objective in the season opener.
"The whole idea was to play a team a little bigger, a little stronger, a little tougher to make us a better team in the end. Let's see how the experiment works out. But for the first 24 minutes I was pretty pleased with how we were playing. We just kind of fell apart in the second half,"_ commented coach George Gettle.
There were more positives than negatives for Northview. Despite rebuilding the offensive line and playing with a new quarterback, the Knights scored first, played turnover-free football, converted on some huge third and fourth down plays and led 7-6 at halftime.
"With a bunch of unproven game experience kids, I think that is fantastic. That meant they were into the game mentally," Gettle said.
In his varsity debut, quarterback Caleb Whitman completed 4-8 passes for 37 without an interception and netted another 19 running the football.
"I thought Caleb did a nice job at quarterback, for the most part. He fell asleep a couple of times, but for the most part he did what I wanted him to do,"_ Gettle said.
Jered Timm was all over the football field for Northview, offensively and defensively. Timm rushed for 40 yards, caught two of Whitman's four complete passes for 23 yards, intercepted a Castle pass and returned it 23 yards to set up Northview's first touchdown and totaled 101 return yards.
"(My) hat's off to (Timm), he did play well. He played hard, he played the whole game. That's tough to do in high school football, to get that many (repetitions) on both sides of the ball and really be playing hard the entire night," Gettle said.
Defensively, Northview couldn't stop Castle's Spencer Charlton, who rushed for 219 yards. The 5-8, 190-pound senior scored on runs of 30 and three yards, most of it coming in the second half.
"We just did not do a very good job of stopping their bread and butter play, which was inside and outside zone," Gettle said.
Northview took a 7-0 lead in the second quarter with a 54-yard, 11-play drive that was kept alive by conversions on third and fourth downs.
Timm set up the drive when he intercepted a Castle pass and returned it 23 yards. But two plays later the Knights faced a third and 11 from their own 45-yard line. Whitman caught Castle in a blitz and dumped a screen pass to Timm for 14 yards and a first down.
Three downs later, the Knights faced a fourth and four from the Castle 35. This time Timm ran straight ahead for 15 yards and another first down.
With the ball on Castle's 20-yard line, Northview was looking at third and 10. Again, Timm got the ball, pulling in a pass from Whitman for 19 yards to the Castle 1-yard line. Whitman scored on the next Derek Rose center snap with 7:16 left in the half.
Castle struck back in the final 1:04 of the first half. Going to the air, Castle covered 65 yards in just 35 seconds, quarterback Graham Saiko going to Tyler Schlaf for the 19-yard score with 29 seconds left in the half.
"We just got lackadaisical. We just didn't really seize the moment there," Gettle said.
Castle opened the second half with an 11-play, 54-yard touchdown march to take a 14-7 lead.
With Castle now leading by a touchdown, momentum was hanging in the balance; and it went against Northview.
Timm received the kickoff, ran right, then left and 94 yards later was in the end zone. But the apparent touchdown was called back because of a holding penalty. Plus, an unsportsmanlike-like conduct penalty was tacked on, pushing the Knights back to their own 4-yard line.
Three plays later, Kade Baker was set to punt the ball away from the end zone, but the center snap went flying over his head, giving Castle a two-point safety, a 16-7 lead and possession of the football.
Just four plays later, Castle's Charlton broke free for a 30-yard touchdown run. In less than four minutes Northview was down 23-7.
Northview opens conference play at home this Friday against the visiting Edgewood Mustangs, who lost their opener 74-0 to Bloomington North.
Castle 30, Northview 7
N - Caleb Whitman 1 yd. run (Cody Crooks kick).
C - Tyler Schlaf 19 yd. pass from Graham Saiko (kick failed).
C - Ryan Mann 15 yd pass from Saiko (Charlton Spencer run).
C - Charlton Spencer 30 yd. run (Kevin West kick).
C - Spencer 3 yd. run (West kick).
Rushing - Castle: Spencer 21-219, Pettijohn 7-63, Smith 2-12, Saiko 5-3. Northview: Whitman 19-39, Timm 8-40, Sorlie 8-30, Baker 2-1.
Passing - Castle: Saiko 10-14-1--123. Northview: Whitman 4-8-0--37.
Receiving - Castle: Schlaf 6-61, Thompson 2-32, Porter 2-15, Mann 1-15. Northview: Timm 2-23, Coltharp 2-14.
Next game - Northview (0-1, 0-0 in WIC) will host Edgewood (0-1, 0-0 in WIC) on Friday and Castle (1-0) plays at home against New Albany.