Times Sports Editor
The Northview football team and its fans won't have to worry about monsoon-like rains for this weekend's game against Edgewood.
The Knights will play the season's first Western Indiana Conference game in Lucas Oil Field in Indianapolis on Saturday afternoon against the Mustangs.
Northview head coach George Gettle talked about the unique opportunity for his team to play in the Indianapolis Colts' home digs.
"Well it's exciting for the kids with Lucas Oil just being opened up last year, so a lot of these kids haven't even been inside the stadium yet," Gettle said. "It's just going to be a fun day and a neat experience for them and even for us coaches. Any time you get a chance to go up to Indianapolis and play in a professional venue it's a neat experience for the kids and that's why we do it. It's not about making money, it's about giving these kids this experience."
Experience is something that the Knights' opponent is running a bit low on this season.
The Mustangs suffered heavy graduation losses following a conference championship season and must find a new quarterback as well as replacing a number of linemen. Edgewood ended a long WIC winning streak for the Knights last season so Gettle feels that his team is looking for some revenge.
"Last year was the first conference loss in 24 straight games for us and it basically set the tone for the conference. We hadn't lost to Edgewood in the previous six times so yeah, we're playing with a chip on our shoulders," Gettle said. "We understand that you can't win the WIC, basically, without going undefeated. So this first conference game is just as important as any of the others. We're coming out with a chip on our shoulder and ready to play some good football."
The Knights opened the season with a 33-8 win over Franklin in a game that featured a heavy storm in the third quarter. The Mustangs are coming off a 14-6 loss to North Putnam in which Edgewood struggled to gain offensive yards. The defense is also breaking in a new scheme with a number of inexperienced players.
"(Edgewood) lost some great football players over the course of the years. The (Josh) Collier kid was outstanding and the (Shane) Wagner kid. Defensively, they have changed their scheme to a 3-5-3, which is kind of the new scheme now on defense," Gettle said.
The key to the new defensive system is having an athletic group of linebackers, which Gettle says that the Mustangs have.
"Their linebackers are good. I think their best players are their linebackers. They all run pretty well to the ball so it's going to be a challenge for us up front to get on those guys with speed. Obviously they are going to be a little more athletic than we are with a linebacker attacking a lineman," Gettle said.
Edgewood used two sophomore quarterbacks against the Cougars with Grant Pederson completing eight-of-10 passes for 34 yards and Tyler Cross going one-for-2.
The Knights counter with veteran signal caller, Trent Lancaster, who threw for 119 yards in less than ideal conditions and ran for another 25.
Damon Hyatt got the bulk of the yardage on the ground for the Knights with 58 yards on 19 carries.
Look for their to be plenty more yardage this weekend on the turf at Lucas Oil as Northview will be able to showcase their skill position players.
"We feel like we've got an awfully good group of skill kids that can stretch the field vertically and that's always been our game plan here to keep a balance between the run and the pass," Gettle said. "The quickest and fastest way to get ahead on somebody in football is to throw the ball. So we've worked on that a lot this week to stretch the kids out vertically and horizontally and hopefully, we've been working on our pass protection a bit more to fine-tune that. And if we can put that together I think we're going to be pretty explosive this year."
The Edgewood running game didn't have much success either, gaining just 34 yards on 25 carries against the Cougars. All told, the Mustangs gained just 66 yards of offense, but Gettle is confident that Edgewood's coach will have his team ready to play.
"Overall, I've coached with Jerry Bland before, the head coach at Edgewood, and he's a good football coach and he'll have his kids prepared, I know that for a fact," Gettle said. "Hopefully we can come out and execute like we did last Friday and get a 'W'. Nothing's going to come easy and their kids are going to be excited just like we are. It should be a heck of an opening conference game."
The win over the Grizzly Cubs was one that invigorated the Knights and Gettle hopes that his team can harness the motions of the evening.
"The one thing I will say is that after last Friday's game (a 33-8 win over Franklin), it was one of the most enjoyable times in the locker room in awhile. The kids were just completely ecstatic and enthusiastic about the victory," Gettle said. "That's what it's about and it brought cold chills to me. When kids are that excited by coming out and winning a football game, that's what it is all about. If they can just continue with that type of emotion and enthusiasm about what this game is about and how much fun it can be, especially when you win, its only going to get better."
The Knights and Mustangs contest is part of a four-game slate on Saturday that includes a noon game between Guerin Catholic and Brebeuf followed by Northview and Edgewood at 2:45 p.m. The third game is Noblesville and Brownsburg at 5:30 p.m. with the final game between Martinsville and Bloomington South at 8:15 p.m. Tickets are available in the high school bookstore today for $11 and are $15 on gameday.