Young Knights gain valuable experience in opening scrimmage
By CAREY FOX
Times Sports Editor
Football players around the state made their debut in scrimmages and jamborees as high schools had their dress rehearsals for the regular season next week.
Northview faced off at home against Terre Haute South in a scripted scrimmage as both teams debuted in a situational contest.
A Northview varsity squad laden with youth was mostly concerned with gaining some valuable experience before its regular season opener against Terre Haute North in a week. As expected, a Knights’ varsity that includes just five seniors, had some ups and downs while learning on the fly.
The Braves took their lumps during a 1-9 season with freshman quarterback Collins Turner at the helm. However, Turner made some solid plays during the scrimmage using some of that invaluable experience from last year.
Both squad got 15 plays starting from their own 35-yard line to start off the scrimmage and Turner connected with senior wide receiver KC Bender for a 49-yard touchdown strike on the sixth play. Turner also included a 12-yard completion to six-foot-seven inch tight end Carter Herrin on the third play of the next series. Overall, the Knights’ defense gave up just two completions in seven pass attempts from Turner. Turner also had a 16-yard run in the series.
The Knights are breaking in a series of new linemen on both sides of the ball and not surprisingly there were some early mistakes before the Knights settled in during their first offensive opportunity.
Junior quarterback Trey Shaw was sacked on the second play and the Knights had a false start penalty a couple plays later. Once the Knights settled down, Shaw hit Jarrett Combs for a 14-yard completion. A pair of Braves’ penalties advanced the Knights into South territory. Shaw completed three more passes during the drive, one each to MJ Shelton, Michael Heading and Cullen Weishaupt.
With players on a play count during the scrimmage, head coach Mark Raetz was interested in how his team learned on the field.
“We’ve got a young team. We are getting everyone some playing time. The rules of the scrimmage are that players are limited in their number of plays,” Raetz said. “So we had set rotations. We were down at about the 10 (yard line) and we pulled all of our (starters) out because of the rotation. So it is more about evaluation than it is about trying to ‘win’ the scrimmage.”
The second set of plays put both teams’ offenses on the opposing 10-yard line as the defenses worked on their redzone ability.
Northview’s defense forced three straight incompletions before the Knights’ Evan Dutrow recorded a sack on fourth down. However, Turner rebounded to throw a five-yard TD strike to Herrin and then a nine-yarder to Deavin Rogan during their 10 plays in the series. Northview countered with an eight-yard scoring run by Allen Haire.
“I thought we made some nice defensive plays at times. We gave up some stuff, (Terre Haute South) has an athletic quarterback,” Raetz pointed out. “They hit a couple of balls, but I thought our run defense was pretty solid. Offensively, once we got past some of the early game jitters with the new guys, I thought we were able to move the ball at times. We scored a couple of times. We had a lot of mistakes, but that was to be expected.”
The third set of series gave each team the ball at the opposing team’s 35-yard line for 12 plays.
Turner, who ran for 68 yards on seven plays, ran for 17 yards two different times on the drive before Noah Griffin scored from a yard out. Jase Dressler added a six-yard scoring run during the series.
Northview got a 16-yard tote from Haire on the second play of their drive and a nine-yard run from MJ Shelton. Heading would punch in a three-yard run to cap the scoring.
Haire would lead the Knights with 44 yards on six carries as five different players got carries during the varsity portion. Shaw would connect on six of his 13 passes for 43 yards.
While the Knights were outscored five touchdowns to two in varsity competition, Raetz was more concerned with his team gaining experience in live action.
“I think as it went (the lines) got better. Early on we were struggling a little bit, but the more these guys play the better they are going to get,” Raetz pointed out. “We play the two biggest schools on our schedule in the scrimmage and first week so we get thrown into the fire right away. By the time conference season comes around they will be battle tested.”
The Knights will open the regular season on the road against Terre Haute North at 7 p.m. Friday.