Times Sports Editor
For a number of years, Northview High School has provided fireworks following a score by the home football team. On Friday night, the stockpile might have been getting a bit low by the end of the game.
An opening night shootout developed quickly between the visiting Franklin Grizzly Cubs and the Knights, who celebrated Senior Night early this year. The teams combined for 45 points in the first quarter alone before Northview was able to settle down and pitch a shutout while outscoring Franklin 26-0 in the pivotal middle quarters to earn a 46-32 win.
Coach George Gettle felt that his team was feeling the effects of having Senior Night uncharacteristically before the first game of the season rather than the last home game.
"I think on both sides of the ball we were pretty tight on that first series," Gettle said. "It's Senior Night and usually that game is at the end of the year, it's always a tough game because there is a lot of emotion to the game with the seniors and their parents. Once we got settled down we were able to get some things going."
Franklin took advantage of an opening three-and-out by the Northview offense and showed off junior running back, Jake Moran, a speedy, hard-nosed runner, who did plenty of damage.
Moran ran twice on a short opening drive after a big punt return by Austin Bowman. The three-play drive was capped by Moran, who scampered in from six yards barely three minutes into the game.
The Knights didn't take long to answer, in fact, it took just two plays for Sean Hauser to rip off a 46-yard TD run just 44 seconds after Franklin's opening tally.
Moran would add a seven-yard score later in the quarter on the way to an eye popping 244 yards on just 18 carries in the game.
Obviously we've got a lot of work to do. Offensive we were able to score some points, defensively, after we gave up a few scores we were able to get a few three-and-outs. After that barrage in the first quarter, from the second quarter on, we got a lot more three-and-outs than (Franklin) did."
"We were playing flat footed and not reading our keys. We had our eyes in the backfield and that's fundamentals. I told the kids from day one that we're going to be fundamentally sound," Gettle said. "Tackling was a problem, we were getting guys to the ball, but we weren't wrapping up. Give (Franklin) credit, that running back they have (Moran), I like him, he runs hard. But you have to be happy with the win, it's hard to win high school football games. I'm proud of the kids though."
Not to be outdone, the pass/catch combination of seniors Trent Lancaster, Zac Niehaus and Andrew Butts was electrifying all night.
Niehaus caught a one-yard score with 4:38 left in the first quarter and then added a 33-yard score with 1:40 left in the first period as Northview went into the second quarter facing a 25-20 deficit.
However, Lancaster found Niehaus twice more in the second quarter, once for a 13-yard TD just two minutes into the period and then added a 49-yard hook-up as Northview was able to take control of the game and get some stops on Franklin's offense.
Lancaster threw 17 times in the first half, completing 13 of those passes for 265 yards and four touchdown. Niehaus caught seven of those passes for 227 yards before the break.
"Trent and Zac and Andrew (Butts) have played a lot of football for us and they've caught a lot of footballs from each other in practice and in 7-on-7's," Gettle said. "The chemistry is real good there, I thought all three of them did a nice job this evening. We were able to stretch the field vertically, that's for sure. Trent threw an awful lot of good passes tonight."
With a 32-25 lead at halftime, Northview got a key turnover on a fumble recovery by Hunter Robinson in the third quarter. The turnover, on the 40-yard line, led to a 46-yard TD pass to Niehaus on a third-and-13 situation that shifted the momentum firmly to the Knights. The Knights stopped Franklin at midfield on the following drive and forced a punt. Lancaster would take control on the next drive, diving home from one-yard out, one play after Butts hauled in a 49-yard pass. The score pushed the gap to 46-25 and the Knights were in control.
Franklin didn't go away quietly, getting Moran's fourth TD of the game with 6:03 left in the contest. The Knights' Tyler Wilson later intercepted a pass from Jake Hemrick to end a final threat by the Grizzly Cubs.
For the game, Lancaster threw just four, second half passes, but still had 380 yards through the air with Niehaus grabbing nine receptions for 293 yards and five scores.
The Knights (1-0 overall) will visit Edgewood to open conference play next Friday night.
FR -- Jake Moran six-yard run (Patrick Palmer kick failed), 8:52
Nv -- Sean Hauser 46-yard run (Trey Boor kick), 8:08
FR -- Moran 59-yard run (Palmer kick)
Nv -- Trent Lancaster one-yard pass to Zac Niehaus (Boor kick), 4:38
FR -- Moran seven-yard run (Run failed), 4:21
Nv -- Lancaster 33-yard pass to Niehaus (kick failed), 1:40
FR -- Hunter Hendershot 14-yard run (run failed), 0:23
Nv -- Lancaster 13-yard pass to Niehaus (pass failed), 9:58
Nv -- Lancaster 49-yard pass to Niehaus (kick failed), 3:10
Nv -- Lancaster 46-yard pass to Niehaus (Boor kick), 8:35
Nv -- Lancaster one-yard run (Boor kick), 2:57
FR -- Moran 11-yard run (Palmer kick), 6:03
Rushing -- Nv (Lancaster 18-58 TD, Hauser 12-91 TD, Hyatt 5-4, Williams 1-2), FR (Moran 18-244 4 TD, Long 6-7, Bowman 3-18, Hendershot 2-16 TD, Hemrick 3-(-13)). Passing -- Nv (Lancaster 16-21 380 yards, 5 TD, 0 Int.). FR (Hemrick 4-9 61 yards, 0 TD, 0 Int.). Receiving -- Nv (Niehaus 9-293 yards, 5 TD, Butts 2-57 yards, Hyatt 4-22 yards, Dickison 1-8 yards); FR (Zapfe 2-51 yards, Long 1-3 yards, Bowman 1-(-1) yards, Kennedy 1-7 yards).