Knights prepare to open sectional play
The second season begins tonight in high school football around the state as postseason play kicks off with sectional play.
Locally, the Northview Knights get their first look at a re-aligned sectional when the Jasper Wildcats come for a visit at 8 p.m.
The Knights are hoping to change recent results in the sectional which has seen them lose three straight. However, Northview coach George Gettle feels that his team has had a great week of practice leading up to tonight’s sectional game.
“Practice has been great,” said Gettle as his team worked out in the high school gym. “I think we had one of our best defensive practices of the year yesterday. I think the kids understand the importance of playing their best football in week 10.”
The Knights hope to do just that against the Wildcats, who come in as the No. 8 ranked team in the state in Class 4A. Jasper comes in with a 7-2 record overall and their only two losses this season have been to Mt. Carmel, Ill., the No. 2 ranked Class 4A team in Illinois, and Heritage Hills, the top-ranked Class 3A team in Indiana.
“(Jasper’s) schedule is a lot like ours in that they play some big and some small schools,” commented Gettle. “But their only two losses have been to two tough teams. Their schedule has gotten them ready and they’ve got a great coaching staff and have high expectations.”
Jasper is also just six years removed from a state championship back in 2001 and the community supports their football ravenously, which should make tonight’s contest a great scene for the sport. With Northview’s large fan base, there should be a huge crowd to support both teams tonight.
With the new sectional re-alignment, both teams are meeting each other for the first time in the postseason, which should make things that much more interesting.
“The unfamiliarity works both ways,” assessed Gettle. “(Jasper) is a tradition-rich program and they present a big challenge, but I know our kids our up for it.”
Leading Jasper is sophomore quarterback Austin Ahrens, who is the coach’s son. He provides the Wildcats with a signal caller that can move the ball both through the air and on the ground like Jasper teams of the past.
Gettle believes that the key to the game lies in the offensive and defensive lines.
“I think their lines could cause some problems, they have one or two lineman who could make a difference. In the past they have been a two tight end, running team in the past, but this year they are able to spread the ball out and throw more often. But they can still run the power-pitch football if they need to.”
For Northview to be successful, Gettle believes that his team is going to have to be able to run the ball and control the clock amongst other keys.
“It’s always important to control the tempo and get into good second and third down situations. We have to gain some ground through the running game and it’s important that we’re able to get that physical, dominating effort from our lines.”
“The key for us is defensively getting Jasper into throwing situations and getting pressure on their quarterback,” said Gettle. “Our kids have been pretty aggressive in their mentality. We have to take of the ‘ground and pound’ game and we have to create turnovers. We expect more than one of our kids to get some big hits, a big interception or to force some turnovers.”
The Knights come in fresh off their fourth straight Western Indiana Conference championship that was clinched last weekend and would like nothing more than to add a sectional title as well.
That drive for the title begins tonight at 8 p.m.