By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
The Northview football program has had the unenviable task of taking very long road trips as part of its sectional draw the last few years. However, at least for the next two years, the Knights are able to change their postseason travel plans thanks to the February re-classification and re-alignment done by the IHSAA.
While there were sectional re-alignments done for baseball, basketball, softball, volleyball and both boys and girls soccer, football is where the biggest changes were made for Northview.
Over the last four years, Northview had been a part of Sectional 16, which included Evansville Reitz, Boonville, Jasper, Evansville Central, Seymour, Evansville Harrison and Owen Valley. The shift in alignment now has the Knights in Sectional 14, which requires an entirely different set of travel plans.
Gone will be the super power of the Reitz Panthers, who were 52-3 with two Class 4A state titles and a semi-state berth during the four-year stint in Sectional 16. However, there is still a big dog on the block in the new sectional as Northview will have Indianapolis Cathedral to deal with. The Fighting Irish are the defending state champions after compiling a 12-3 mark last year and drilled the Reitz Panthers 56-28 in the semi-state.
The other members of the sectional include Plainfield, Indianapolis Broad Ripple, Roncalli, Mooresville, Indianapolis Northwest and Lebanon.
The new grouping caught quite a few people by surprise, including Northview head coach George Gettle.
"We have preached and lived by the motto 'Control the controllable' and
this is a perfect example of something we don't control so know need to waste time or energy on it," Gettle said. "I never saw it coming, I really thought we would be back down south so when the new alignments were announced I was surprised and you are correct the one big positive is there will be no three-hour bus rides to play in a sectional game."
Long bus rides aside, Gettle still knows his program is going to potentially see one of the top programs in the state in Cathedral, which has reached the semi-state level in each of the last five years and has three championships during that same span.
"At first glance there are several teams in the sectional that I think we are very comparable to and should be competitive with. However, any time you are in the same sectional with Cathedral and Roncalli it has it's challenges," Gettle said. "Remember just last year Cathedral beat Reitz in the semi-state (final four) by 30 points and was the 4A state champion for the second time in three years. Cathedral has tradition like no other school and is one of the best football programs in the state of Indiana in all classes."
The remaining Sectional 14 teams didn't reach quite the same lofty heights as Cathedral as Plainfield (7-3) and Lebanon (6-4) were the only other teams with a winning record, but Roncalli's head coach Bruce Scifres has a career mark of 193-66 over 22 years with the Rebels. The program has struggled a bit of late, but reached the state title game four straight years from 2002-05.
"Overall I think Sectional 14 versus Sectional 16 are very similar. In each one there are teams that are in line with our program at Northview and then there are two or three programs that you are reaching to be," Gettle said. "So the road to the regional in my opinion is just as difficult now as it has been the past four years with Reitz and Jasper."
As far as the other sports, Northview will mostly remain with the same postseason partners as Martinsville, Mooresville, Plainfield and both Terre Haute North and South will be in the basketball, baseball, softball and volleyball sectional.
Clay City will trade out North Central (Farmersburg), which moves up to Class 2A, with Eminence in those same sports.
In soccer, the Knights will be part of Sectional 29 along with Terre Haute North, Terre Haute South and newcomers, Vincennes Lincoln and Owen Valley.
"All three realignment committees were extremely well-prepared and provided valuable input throughout each meeting," commented Commissioner Bobby Cox. "The conscientious attitudes of the committee members were clearly evident in their deliberations. The locations of schools and their proximity to other schools were given the greatest consideration when forming sectional groupings. Secondly, a deliberate effort was made to eliminate five and seven team sectionals where possible. I feel that each group developed an alignment, which will serve the membership appropriately and create excitement and interest among our patrons. The IHSAA staff will now begin the process of identifying member schools that are willing to host these important tournament series events."