Times Sports Editor
If you're looking for the keys to victory for Northview in Friday's football skirmish with visiting Sullivan, it's pretty simple.
Stopping the run.
The Knights haven't been able to do it this season and it finally cost them a game last week against Terre Haute North as the Knights gave up more than 250 yards rushing for the third straight game. In fact, North ran up a gaudy total of 333 yards and 510 total yards, which proved disastrous in a 40-14 defeat.
Certainly having Daniel Gabbard running rampant through the line and secondary left a bad taste in the mouths of the North-view defensive players. Turning that anger towards Sullivan and stopping their backs will go a long way towards earning the Knights a second conference win this evening.
Sullivan brings an 0-3 mark into the game, but that is a bit deceiving considering that two of those losses were to ranked Class A opponents. The Golden Arrows fell to third-ranked Linton, 42-21 two weeks ago and dropped a 6-2 nail biter to seventh-ranked North Knox last Friday.
There should be plenty of familiarity between the two teams as the Arrows return last year's quarterback in Ryan Vernelson and the starting running back in Dakota Hiatt.
Vernelson had some issues with accuracy in the Linton game with four interceptions and completed just nine-of-23 passes for 182 yards. However, Trenton Moody was a go-to receiver with six catches for 102 yards, including a 63-yard catch for a score.
The Knights are familiar with each of those players as they saw them last season, a 62-30 blowout win on the road. In that game, the Knights piled up 564 total yards and senior quarterback, Trent Lancaster, threw for 328 yards and three touchdowns. He's hoping to duplicate that success and the Knights would like nothing more than to mount a successful rushing attack too after running for just 32 yards against the Patriots. The Miners had success doing both against Sullivan, throwing for 206 yards and rushing the ball 42 times for 242 yards in the win.
Northview is hoping to put the second half shutout at the hands of Terre Haute North behind them and get back to the offensive assault that has been a Knights' signature for the most part.
Lancaster has averaged 220 yards through the air this season, but was intercepted three times last week. Sullivan doesn't have the depth of athletes that North has on their roster so expect the Knights to have some success on offense. Getting Damon Hyatt involved in the running attack early could set the tone quickly for the Knights. Lancaster has the athletic talents to give the Arrows' defense fits too as he proved last year when he rushed for 113 yards and three scores. Hyatt was explosive as well, ripping off 108 yards and two touchdowns on just eight carries.
Opposing teams have focused on limiting wide receiver, Zac Niehaus, after his opening night explosion that resulted in nine catches for 280 yards and five touchdowns against Franklin. He's been held to a total of five catches over the past two games and could be poised for a bit game tonight. Andrew Butts has been active with seven catches over those two games and Hyatt has come out of the backfield for 174 receiving yards over those two contests.
Northview has had success for the most part in the takeaway department as Tyler Wilson has an interception in all three games this year and the Knights have forced six turnovers this year.
However, this game goes back to defense and how it performs against Sullivan, who would like nothing more than to come in and pull the upset. The Knights own eight straight victories over Sullivan dating back to 2001.
Kick-off is at 7 p.m. at Northview High school.