Times Sports Editor
Northview has had plenty of success throughout the careers of its senior football class, but one thing they haven't been able to accomplish is winning a game against rival Terre Haute North. The seniors will get their final chance to add that check mark to their gridiron resume this evening as the Knights visit the Patriots in a battle between 2-0 teams.
"Obviously it's a rivalry game because of the proximity of the schools and like I've said all week, the kids grow up knowing each other because of youth baseball and basketball leagues," Northview coach George Gettle said. "I think that's what adds to the importance of the game. Even though it's two different teams, two different schools, a lot of people are familiar with each other."
The Knights also bring a Class 4A No. 10 ranking into the contest and a win tonight would certainly boost their confidence against an opponent in a higher classification with the 5A Patriots hosting what has typically been a shootout in past seasons.
The average score over the last three seasons has been a 38-28 decision and this year should be no different as the Knights have a prolific offense and a defense looking to make a statement.
Meanwhile, the Patriots are coming off a second comeback win, a dramatic 22-21 victory over rival Terre Haute South in front of 10,000 fans at Memorial Stadium. The Patriots' defense allowed the Braves 290 rushing yards a week after Castle had 235 rushing yards and threw for 166. So the Knights are likely licking their chops on the offensive side of the ball.
However, it's on defense where the Knights need to make a stand after giving up big rushing games to both Edgewood and Franklin to open the season. North has its own standout running back with Daniel Gabbard rushing for 250 yards on just 28 carries over two games. Their quarterback, Chad Holler, has also ran for 100 yards in two games and Brother Scank has ripped off 91 yards on 15 carries.
"(Terre Haute North) has a couple of kids on the offensive side of the ball that if you do some of the things we've been doing, like lining up wrong, missing our assignments, not being fundamentally sound, if you do one of those things and one of those kids, i.e. (Daniel) Gabbard, or (Brother) Skank has the ball, then they can take it all the way," Gettle said. "We've worked really, really hard on making sure we know where we're supposed to be and why we're supposed to be there. Hopefully we'll be better at it. We haven't lost faith or confidence though."
The Knights have came out on the positive side of the turnover battle in both ball games as Northview hasn't turned the ball over this season and both Tyler Wilson and Damon Hyatt grabbed interceptions last week against Edgewood.
Northview's bread and butter this year has been an experienced and talented offense led by senior quarterback, Trent Lancaster, along with receivers, Zac Niehaus and Andrew Butts and running back Andrew Butts.
The potent combination is one of the state's best playmaking groups as Lancaster has thrown for the third-highest yardage total in Indiana with 537 yards and six touchdowns. The senior has also averaged 13.42 yards per attempt, one of the highest in the state as well. Lancaster has also run for 162 yards.
Niehaus has been one of Lancaster's favorite receiving targets this year and is listed with the second-highest amount of receiving yards in the state thus far with 167 per game and six scores. He's far from the only weapon as Hyatt and Butts make the Northview offense very dynamic, giving defenses plenty to think about. Hyatt rushed for 55 yards on nine carries, caught five passes for 80 yards and intercepted a pass last week.
Though Gettle knows this game is a good measuring stick for his team through the first third of the season, he believes that this is just another step towards where he wants the Knights to be when the postseason begins.
"Like any game, it's a big game and it's one that you want to win and it's important, but by that same token, it's week three. We don't want to put such emphasis on it that it becomes bigger than the season," Gettle said. "We're 2-0, we've been working on a lot of our mistakes we've been making, we've had a good week of practice. The kids are excited obviously, it's one of those games that you don't really have to tell them who they are playing, they are always up for Terre Haute North."