Times Sports Editor
Tonight's second round sectional battle between Northview and Evansville F.J. Reitz won't be the first time that the Knights have faced a top-ranked opponent on its home field. Northview is hoping to recreate the last time that a No. 1 ranked team visited as the Knights claimed a 20-0 victory against a Curtis Painter-led Vincennes Lincoln team in 2003. Painter, as everyone now knows, went on to play for Purdue University and now the Indianapolis Colts.
Reitz brings its own college-bound QB in Matt McIntosh, who is a Northern Illinois recruit. He follows in the footsteps of his brother Paul McIntosh, who attended West Point before transferring to Southern Illinois where he plays quarterback for the Salukis' football team. Much like his brother, McIntosh is also a Mr. Football candidate and has dual threat capabilities having thrown for 137 yards per game and run for another 87 per contest.
The Panthers are coached by Tony Lewis, who is in his third-year with the team and was in his first-year with the team in 2008, which was the last time the Knights saw Reitz in the postseason. While Northview lost that battle, the Knights gained some experience with the system run by Lewis. Northview head coach George Gettle believes that the Panthers show some similarities to the 2008 team, but have continued to improve.
"I think offensively and defensively their philosophies are the same. Skill level-wise and talent level-wise, I think this team might be a little more talented at the skill positions," Gettle said. "Up front they don't seem quite as big or heavy, but I think they might be more athletic. So I don't think playing them in 2008 helps us that much other than they are running a lot of the same plays offensively. Defensively, they've changed their front from a 4-3 to a 3-4. This is a new team, a new year, they've carried on from 2008 with all the success they've had. It's a very challenging game come Friday night."
"The running back is very quick and shifty, if you don't contain him, much like the quarterback, if you let him get to a crease or over-pursue him, he's fast enough to take it to the endzone," Gettle said.
"When you think you've slowed down those two, then receivers/slotbacks like Cuda Dimmett and Hamilton Carr and out wide they have a 6'4 wide receiver (Nathan Tidwell)," Gettle said. "So like I stated, offensively, skill-wise they are a very talented team and they pose challenges all over the field for any defense. It's going to be a big challenge, but these are the kinds of game you like to coach in and hopefully these are the kinds of games the kids like to play in. It's sets up for a heck of a Friday night."
Dimmett (6'1, 200 lb.) has fought through a slight tear in his hamstring, but is coming off a three-touchdown game against Jasper. He has 28 catches for 429 yards and three touchdowns and has run for 143 yards and three scores. Carr (6'0, 165 lb.) is the Panthers' top receiver with 39 catches for 786 yards and 10 scores with Tidwell gathering in 19 passes for 210 yards and four TD.
The Knights have a talented group of receivers as well as Andrew Butts has caught 43 passes for 1,003 yards this season, which is good enough for eighth in the state and he's hauled in 12 touchdowns. Honorable mention Class 4A All-State receiver, Zac Niehaus, has recovered from an ankle injury and has caught 34 passes for 747 yards and 12 TD's. Damon Hyatt adds another threat out of the backfield and as a wideout with 38 catches for 538 yards and four touchdowns. Freshman tightend Daniel Kimball (6'4, 210 lb.) has three scoring catches this season.
Offensively, Reitz has averaged 43 points per game this season with Northview tallying over 36 per contest.
"The kids are fired up just because it's another chance to put on the Knights' uniform and take the field," Gettle said. "Obviously when you get a chance to play a storied program like the Reitz Panthers and all they bring to the table, it adds a little bit to the kitty, but we're treating it like a big game."