Times Sports Editor
The Northview Knights found out who their opening round sectional foe would be in two weeks and now the Knights have the task of wrapping up a Western Indiana Conference championship tonight when they visit Brown County at 7 p.m.
Though the draw has been made for the sectional and the Knights know that they will have a home game against Class 4A third-ranked Jasper in the opener, Northview coach George Gettle said his team is focused on claiming the title tonight against the Eagles.
"Obviously it's a little bit of a distraction, but we've got a lot to play for. Winning the conference is one of our goals and we're back there where we've been for so many years," Gettle said. "To get the conference title is of the utmost importance and the kids understand that we have a football game to play (tonight) so that's been our focus.
We haven't spent any time at all on Jasper, we were very excited about the draw and we're very excited that the game will be played at Northview, but other then that our preparation has been solely on Brown County," Gettle added. "We've had somewhat of a difficult week with some of the other things that have happened. Some of the practice times and schedules have changed, but through it all I think the kids have done a tremendous job of focusing in on this upcoming game and we're looking to going down there and playing a good football game."
The Knights have a five-game winning streak on the line against the Eagles who come into the game with a 2-6 record after a 6-0 loss to Edgewood last week in sloppy conditions on the Mustangs home field. For Brown County, the Eagles are looking to halt a six-game losing streak coming on the heels of wins in the team's first two games of the season.
The weather could once again play a role in the game as there is a chance of rain, a common occurrence this season, on Friday night.
Garrett Davis, a 6'2 wide receiver poses plenty of problems for opposing defenses. His big play ability is no secret as he has caught 24 passes for 591 yards and nine touchdowns. Davis averages nearly 25 yards per reception this year.
"He's a very nice receiver and obviously he had a very nice year last year. He's their go-to guy as far as the receiving corp goes, but (Brown County) is a little more balanced than they were last year," Gettle said. "Last year I think they relied on their passing game a little more. They have a few nice linemen and they have a pretty athletic quarterback who moves around and scrambles a lot and gets out in the open field and does some nice things. I wouldn't say we've spent all of our time on Davis, but we've done some things to pay attention to him."
Fowler has completed 38-of-85 passes for 684 yards and all nine of his TD's have gone to Davis. He's also been picked off seven times.
"On film he looks like a pretty good athlete," Gettles said of Fowler. "He scrambles around and keeps his eyes down field. He's either going to run it or going to keep his eyes open for a receiver downfield. From what we've seen he looks pretty good. It's a nice tune-up for the tournament."
In the rushing attack, Brown County uses a pair of backs in Konnor Graber and Michael Leggins. The two haven't piled up a lot of yards, but the rotation of the two should keep them fresh in the game. Graber has 343 yards this season and gains an average of 2.8 yards per carry while Leggins has averaged 3.8 ypc. and has 257 yards and two scores.
Northview is led by junior quarterback Trent Lancaster, who has thrown for 1,678 yards with 18 touchdowns and nine interceptions this season. He's also run for nearly 900 yards and 13 TD's this year. The Knights have a group of top receivers with Drake Stevenson and Zac Niehaus each having 35 receptions this season. Stevenson is coming off a game where he had nine catches for 126 yards and he has 541 receiving yards this season. Niehaus has 536 receiving yards and tight end Jon Bradshaw has 29 catches for 318 yards. Andrew Butts had three catches for 81 yards last week against West Vigo and has 14 receptions for 212 yards for the season.
While Lancaster leads the rushing attack, Damon Hyatt has 456 rushing yards this season with Stevenson adding another 175.
On defense, the Knights have 25 takeaways, 14 fumble recoveries and 11 interceptions, which has keyed the offense to an average of just under 43 points per game while Northview allows 22.4 per contest.
Coach Gettle is simply looking for his team to remain focused on tonight's contest and for his team to play as mistake free as possible.
"Late in the year like this you hope that your execution is as good as it has been all season long. If we can control the ball through the air and by running the ball, limit our mistakes and take care of the ball, the old cliché of not turning the ball over, then we should be okay and we should be able to score some points," Gettle said. "Defensively we've got to keep the big receiver from catching a bunch of passes down field, we've got to contain their quarterback and (Brown County) has a decent pair of running backs that run north and south that will hit you and run hard. Defensively, like offense, we've just got to execute and play a fundamentally sound game heading into the tournament."