By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
Don't let a seven-game win streak over Sullivan fool you into believing that the Northview football team is going to have a cakewalk tonight on the road. The Knights might have handled the Arrows comfortably in recent years, but this year's Sullivan squad looks to be an upgraded and tested squad coming into Homecoming at 7 p.m.
The Arrows have faced three consecutive ranked opponents and have are coming off a win over North Knox, 47-27 last weekend. Sullivan has some more weapons than in past years according to Northview head coach George Gettle and the team showed off in the win over the Warriors.
"(Sullivan) looks improved on film," Gettle said. "They're more of a spread/gun offense similar to what Terre Haute North ran. Decent athletes and decent linemen as far as they can move around, they aren't real big, heavy slow guys. They are similar to our linemen in that they are tall and athletic, kind of rangy. We feel like it's going to be a tough game on the road."
Arrows senior quarterback, Tyler Cox threw for 118 yards and three touchdowns and also scored Sullivan's last two touchdowns via short runs while piling up 76 rushing yards. Northview is familiar with multi-dimensional quarterbacks after Terre Haute North's
Chris O'Leary ran for more than 100 yards and threw for 170 in the Patriots' 54-26 win on Friday over the Knights.
Gettle however, isn't fazed and feels like his team is ready to rebound and post another conference win after working to correct some mistakes on the defensive side after last week's loss.
"We've had a good week of practice. I think the kids were obviously disappointed after last week's loss, but we've kind of shaken that off and tried to work on some things that we didn't do well last week," Gettle said. "There were plenty of things we did do well too. It's going to be a tough game, but we're looking forward to it. Our No. 1 goal is to win the conference and we've basically told the kids that we're going to have to go undefeated to win the conference."
The Knights will also have to deal with John Walker, who led the Arrows rushing attack last week with 84 yards as Sullivan piled up 277 yards on the ground. Dakota Hiatt added 65 yards and he should be a familiar threat as he ran for 147 yards and a score in last year's Northview win.
Gettle feels that his team's defense is ready to improve on last week's effort and goal number one is to limit the big plays.
"We had a lot of breakdowns last week, we didn't feel like we played very well in the open field and didn't a very good job at times with our assignments with a spread/option team We had several guys running too far up the field and linebackers over pursuing the ball, which gave them the cutback lanes," Gettle said. "So that was our focus (in practice), just tightening up our fundamentals. Not to take anything away from Terre Haute North, they've got four or five kids that are extremely quick and I think we'd all want on our teams."
What Sullivan also can do is set up their pass well by giving teams a heavy dose of the option run before going for the homerun ball as they did on their opening possession against North Knox. Cox found Alex Smith for a 75-yard catch-and-run for a score.
"(Sullivan) plays action/pass out of the option sometimes and what happens is that they run option, option, option and people have kind of fallen asleep on them and it's drawing up the secondary, especially the corners and then they'll fake it and throw a nice, easy 20-30-yard pass, but the (receiver) is wide open," Gettle said. "They do throw the ball and they do try to get it downfield maybe a little more than they have in years past. Obviously that's a concern of ours that we've worked on this week. As a defensive back, your first priority is pass and ultimately, about the time you fall asleep is when you give up a big play and we can't afford to give up any big plays like last week because it'll kill you every time."
The Knights had their own lethal combination through the air last week as quarterback Trent Lancaster and Drake Stevenson combined for more than 180 yards alone. Lancaster hit for 284 yards and found Stevenson for nine receptions followed by six to Zac Niehaus and five to Jon Bradshaw.
Lancaster was also fleet of foot, running for 112 yards with Damon Hyatt adding 55 yards and Stevenson racking up another 31.
Kickoff for tonight's game at Sullivan is scheduled for 7 p.m.