Times Sports Editor
When Northview and West Vigo square off on the football field, there doesn't need to be any extra motivation to get the win. Sugarcoat it however you want, but it's no secret that there is no shortage of animosity between the Knights and Vikings.
There is always that little bit extra in this rivalry that amps the games up even more.
Tonight there is the added bonus of a Western Indiana Conference championship hanging in the balance. Neither team has lost in the conference. Both teams come into the contest with a 4-0 conference mark and the winner has the inside track to a title.
West Vigo is coming off a hard fought, 22-12 win over Owen Valley on the road last week and have made no secret of their desire to face the Knights. The Vikings have won six straight games after an opening season loss. The Knights meanwhile, got back on the winning track with a 61-6 pounding of South Vermillion following a tight loss to unbeaten Brebeuf Jesuit two weeks ago.
In West Vigo, the Knights will get a team that has been coming into its own with a balanced offensive attack led by quarterback Lance Garrett and running backs, Dylan Aff and Cole Lydick.
Owen Valley was able to shutout the Vikings in the first half while leading 6-0 as the Patriots' massive interior line kept West Vigo's rushing attack at bay.
However, trailing 12-0 in the third quarter, West Vigo went to the speed of Aff and Lydick.
The Vikings showed off a balanced attack in the game with Garrett throwing for 173 yards and the tandem of Lydick and Aff combined for 121 yards rushing. Cody Thornton caught four passes for 116 yards in the victory.
West Vigo will be celebrating homecoming this evening, which, as the Knights know after pasting the Wildcats by 55 points on Northview's homecoming, provides a little extra intensity.
Northview isn't shy about its own offensive ability however, led by quarterback Trent Lancaster, who threw for a state record-tying eight touchdowns last week. The senior quarterback is currently listed as the state's No. 8 passer by yardage with 1,629 to go with 22 touchdowns and seven interceptions. He's also completing 66 percent of his passes (95-of-160).
The receiving corp at Northview is also quite dynamic as Andrew Butts has moved into the team lead with 689 yards, good for No. 7 in the state. He's grabbed seven touchdowns, four of them last week, and is a force in the return game as well. Butts had a 56-yard punt return for a score last week and added a 47-yard kickoff return.
Zac Niehaus and Damon Hyatt are also dangerous receiving options for Lancaster as well. Though Niehaus has been slowed by an ankle injury several weeks ago, he's still garnered 21 catches for 517 yards and eight touchdowns. Hyatt has added 31 catches for 418 yards and three scores. Hyatt has gotten 11 kick returns this season with his kick returns going for more than 30 yards per pop and his punt returns have averaged a staggering 32 yards per return.
Last year's game, a 33-7 Northview win, had a very somber tone following the tragic death of Halie Hite in a car accident that weekend. The Knights paid tribute to her memory with armbands and "HH" stickers on their helmets.
Northview came out and put West Vigo on its heels early on with three touchdowns in less than a four-minute span of the first quarter.
Hyatt scored two of his three touchdowns in that quarter on the way to a 93-yard rushing afternoon. Lancaster also compiled 333 yards passing with Niehaus catching three passes for 92 yards and a TD and Butts added three more catches for 81 yards.
On defense, the Knights held West Vigo to just 64 yards on 37 carries with Aff being corralled with -11 total yards on the ground.
Emotions will be pegged to open this contest at West Vigo so weathering any sort of first quarter storm by the Vikings will be pivotal. In games of this magnitude, winning the turnover battle is that much more important. Northview's running game has been held mostly in check this season, but then again, the Knights haven't been forced to rely on it very often. Northview averages 114 yards on the ground and 233 through the air. The Knights' special team on returns has been able to give Northview outstanding field position in every game outside of the Brebeuf contest.
Kick-off for this WIC battle for supremacy begins at 7 p.m.