Times Sports Editor
Tonight's long trip south to face Vincennes Lincoln marks the beginning of the second half of the 2008 football season. Northview hasn't enjoyed much of what the first half has had to offer, but then again, neither have the Alices.
Both squads come in at 1-4 on the year, searching for a second half surge into the postseason. Both teams are coming off discouraging losses last week, but the Alices lost far more than just a game against Jasper one week ago.
Lincoln lost senior fullback and linebacker Isaac Salters in the first half of the game against the Wildcats. Walters suffered a knee injury that will end his season. A shocked crowd then watched as senior quarterback Doug Roberts went down with a broken ankle on the final play of the game.
Devastating injuries that change the complexion of tonight's contest to a certain degree, mostly in that Walters was the lead blocker for a run heavy team and a top defensive player.
"(Vincennes) is a traditional running team, similar to Owen Valley. They line up with two tight ends and try to run it down your throat," said Northview coach George Gettle. "Their fullback probably had a bigger stake in the game, because they'll run first, run second and then throw if they have to," he said when asked about the injuries' importance.
The Alices substitute in a sophomore quarterback tonight against the Knights, which offers some question marks about his individual ability to run the offense smoothly.
Northview can make a big difference up front if they can get some pressure with their line, which has been lacking at times this season.
Gettle was quick to point out that the offensive line for Northview is going to have to step up their efforts following a fourth quarter against the Patriots that saw the Knights' own quarterback take way too many hits.
"Our offensive line wasn't creating much depth in the pocket," said Gettle. "Owen Valley was bull rushing us and Trent (Lancaster) just didn't have any room."
Lancaster has thrown for close to 670 yards while completing 46-of-90 passes and four touchdowns.
Vincennes' running game is led by Kale Barmes, who ran for 76 yards on 18 carries to lead a rushing attack that had just 112 yards on 31 carries.
The Knights have been allowing way too many big games in the rushing department, which in turn puts the pressure on the defense late in games.
Northview needs to get some confidence early in this game after turning the ball over via fumble five times. The center exchange snap is also proving to be problematic at times, causing a safety last week on a punt snap and another couple of snaps over the quarterback's head.
Minimizing those momentum shifting mistakes is directly going to affect the game tonight.
More than anything else, the Knights can go a long way towards getting this season back on track by winning a game following a long road trip.
"We made some mistakes last week (against Owen Valley)," said Gettle. "We're probably a couple of touchdowns better than that team. But we worked a lot on ball security this week and getting our blocking mistakes corrected.
"We don't have a lot of urgency right now. I think sometimes we feel that just by putting our uniforms on that we can go out and beat teams," Gettle continued. "But we have to realize that for some teams, beating us makes their season. We've got a pretty big target on our backs."
Kickoff is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. this evening.