Times Sports Editor
The memories of last season's 8-2 year likely seem like a fading memory for South Vermillion fans, who have suffered through an 0-6 start this year. Long gone is standout quarterback, Andy Walsh, who is now a member of Wabash College's football program.
Just one year ago, Walsh led the Wildcats to a top-10 ranking and an unbeaten record as South Vermillion hosted Northview in a dust-up that would decide the conference championship.
Walsh threw for 1,711 yards during his senior season and also had 29 touchdown strikes against just nine interceptions in 10 games.
However, the rushing games decided last year's battle as the Knights and Wildcats each depended on the ground game.
Northview got rushing touchdowns from quarterback Trent Lancaster (two TD's) and Damon Hyatt, while throwing for one. The Knights accumulated 213 yards rushing led by 148 yards on 28 carries by Lancaster. South Vermillion countered with Walsh, who threw for just 52 yards in the game, but ran for 124 and two scores. Both quarterbacks were intercepted twice in the game.
The Knights came away with a hard fought, 28-22 victory that propelled them to the WIC title.
For South Vermillion, the difference between a 6-0 start and the current 0-6 record is what the Wildcats lost from last season. Gone are five honorable mention all-state players in Walsh, receivers Patrick Harpenau and Cody Mumaw, defensive lineman, Trent Wallace and defensive back Logan Laswell. The Wildcats 2009 center, Dan Rowe, was also named the Class 2A all-state center.
The lone non-senior of that group was Wallace, who is a senior this season.
Hard to replace for sure.
The Knights meanwhile had two players on the honorable mention 4A all-state team. Both of them return in Lancaster and receiver Zac Niehaus, who appears to be getting closer to full strength after an ankle injury two weeks ago.
Injuries have cost South Vermillion any sort of consistency as well.
South Vermillion relies on running back, James Craigmyle, a speedster in his senior season and quarterback Alex Thomas, a junior who plays safety as well for the Wildcats.
South Vermillion has remained in most of their games, falling at home in their opener to Covington, 34-13, at North Vermillion 26-6 and at home to Owen Valley 27-14 before a another WIC loss to Brown County, 16-14. However, the last two games haven't been so kind to the Wildcats, who were pummeled 53-6 at Memorial Stadium in the Jay Barrett Classic by West Vigo. Rockville then thumped the Wildcats 34-0 last weekend.
Northview will be looking for revenge on Homecoming, a potential lethal combination for the visiting Wildcats, who will likely encounter a hostile group of Knights, who are smarting after a narrow loss to unbeaten Brebeuf Jesuit, 21-14.
The Knights enter the closing WIC portion of its schedule and are currently 3-0 in the conference with their remaining three regular season games against conference opponents.
Ultimately, to be more successful, the Knights need to protect their quarterback as Lancaster was hurried throughout much of the loss to the Braves last Friday. Northview didn't mount much of a rushing attack either, gaining just 26 on the ground, though the Knights did hold Brebeuf to just 70 on the ground.
The Northview defense has begun to solidify and tonight's contest will be another test as the postseason looms within a month.
Motivation shouldn't be lacking this evening as Northview players understand the importance of a Homecoming win and a conference title. Defending their home turf is just as important for tonight's 7 p.m. kickoff.