By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
Sectional play begins this evening for football teams around the state and the Northview Knights will get reacquainted with the Greenwood Woodmen, who come calling at 7 p.m. this evening.
Both teams come into tonight's postseason opener with identical 6-3 marks, but Greenwood has received some votes in the final regular season football poll. It's likely that that Greenwood earned those votes by having some success against a fairly solid schedule that included wins over Martinsville, Mooresville, Plainfield, Franklin and Whiteland as well as a close loss to 5A Decatur Central and to the Gunner Kiel-led Columbus East squad in the season opener.
Junior quarterback Ben Heller (5'11, 180 lb.) is at the helm for Greenwood and has managed the offense well by going 62-of-93 through the first eight games with 854 yards through the air. He's thrown for nine touchdowns while being intercepted four times. Two weeks ago Heller had a big game against Franklin by completing just five-of-seven passes, but his receivers made the most of those catches by piling up 234 yards and three scores.
Heller did not play last week as senior Mitch Monroe (5'9, 160 lbs.) was the QB and completed just one-of-six passes.
Heller's favorite receiver has been senior Tevis Byrne, who has caught 23 passes for 301 yards and four touchdowns this season. Though he's only 5'10, 155 lbs., Byrne has been reliable, including a seven catch game against Martinsville. Junior Trevor Payne (5'11, 160 lbs.) has caught 20 passes this season for five touchdowns and 423 yards.
Greenwood's rushing attack has been multi-faceted this season as three players have at least 77 carries and five have more than 30.
Heller has run 109 times for 431 yards while Kole Stogner has been the big play back with 730 yards on just 96 carries including 194 yards last week against Whiteland. He carried the ball 31 times and scored three touchdowns. The week before, Stogner had 263 yards on only 19 carries.
On defense, linebacker Austin McFarland has led the team with four sacks and has 41 tackles this season and defensive end Lee Cambell has nine quarterback hurries and two sacks to go with 46 tackles. Austin Montgomery has piled up 57 tackles from his linebacker spot. Three different players have two interceptions for Greenwood as Gage Wells, Jordan Betsarai and Byrne have harassed opposing throws.
The Knights will counter with a power running game of their own as Jesse Miller and Damon Hyatt have done most of the damage this season. Northview has shown the ability to use both Hyatt and Dallas King at the quarterback spot this year. King is returning from an ankle injury suffered a month ago and he got some limited snaps last week as he works his way back.
After several days of rain, the forecast is for sunny skies tomorrow, which should keep both offenses from limiting their plans.
Northview's defense will be at the center of tonight's game as they've allowed just 10 points over the last three games, all victories. However, Greenwood is a different animal than South Vermillion, a young West Vigo team and Brown County last week. If the Knights can keep Greenwood's running game from breaking the big plays, Northview can survive to fight in round two of sectional play.