Warsaw and Tippecanoe Valley look to continue their status as unbeatens in their respective conferences, the Northern Lakes and the Three Rivers, as both are big-time favorites for league match ups tomorrow evening.
The Tigers, winners of two in a row, look to keep pace with undefeated Concord in the NLC. Warsaw, 2-0 in the NLC (Concord is 3-0), travels to winless Northridge to meet a Raider team still struggling. Northridge, which finished 0-10 last season, has allowed 152 points in its 0-4 start this campaign.
The Vikings, now 3-1 after three consecutive victories, host Northfield. Valley has won 15 in a row versus the Norsemen, including a 34-0 blowout in 2011.
Wawasee looks to bounce back after a 54-7 whipping at Concord, who is now ranked No. 3 in Class 4-A, last Friday. The Warriors host NLC foe NorthWood, who notched their first win of the season by downing Goshen 14-7 last week.
Triton travels to face Northern State Conference foe John Glenn in Walkerton and Whitko hosts a winless Wabash team in South Whitley.
Here is a look at local games Friday night.
Warsaw (3-1, 2-0) at Northridge (0-4, 0-2), 7:30 p.m.
Tiger coach Phil Jensen won’t admit to peeking ahead to a home game with Concord Oct. 12 in the NLC and regular-season finale for both teams.
Jensen won’t even go down that road right now even with very winnable games the next four Friday nights versus league foes Northridge, Goshen, Wawasee and NorthWood. Warsaw and Concord are the lone pair of teams still unbeaten in NLC action.
“I’m only concerned with how good we can be as a football team,” said Jensen. “I’ve challenged our kids. We have no place at all to become complacent. If we don’t take care of business Friday night, that Concord game in a few weeks means a lot less.”
“We have a lot of work to, on and off the field, to keep this going. We have to continue to get better every day and every week.”
The Tigers are heavy favorites for the second straight week. Warsaw just played it close to the vest in blanking winless Elkhart Memorial 28-0 last week in the rain. Northridge, meanwhile dropped a 34-0 decision at Plymouth as the Rockies ran all over the Raiders. Warsaw won 26-7 at Plymouth two weeks ago.
“We played Plymouth at the right time and Northridge got them at the wrong time,” said Jensen, pointing out that the Rockies still had some players suspended two weeks ago. “Our kids are smart and they know what’s going on. We’re just honest and upfront with them.
“We just have to be ready to play four quarters Friday night again. It’s a simple format. Control the line on both sides, no turnovers, play solid special teams and do not allow big plays.”
Junior Tristan McClone leads the Tiger offense with 696 yards rushing on 122 carries with seven touchdowns.
Jensen said he expects lineman Cameron Shepherd back this week. The 6-3, 320-pound senior missed last week’s game due to an infection.
Warsaw beat the Raiders 36-14 in 2011.
Northfield (1-3, 0-2) at Tippecanoe Valley (3-1, 2-0), 7 p.m.
The Vikings should have fresh legs this week.
That could be a very bad thing for the Norsemen, who have been dominated by Valley.
The Vikings throttled host Southwood last week 45-0 in a game called at halftime after a lengthy delay due to lightning.
“We took some steps forward last week and the benefit of just playing a half is that we came out of it fresh and healthy,” said Valley coach Jeff Shriver. “The bad thing is that we didn’t get to play some of our younger kids and didn’t get the chance to work on some things we would have liked to.
“But, we saw some consistency from our offensive line. They played very well last week and I feel better about that. We held Southwood to negative yards and our special teams played well.”
Shriver saw Southwood first hand last Saturday in a 11-6 loss at Rochester.
“We were impressed by them,” Shriver said. “They are big, strong and play hard. They have guys who were a part of their state championship baseball team in the spring. We just have to get better. We need to continue to improve our consistency.”
NorthWood (1-3, 1-1) at Wawasee (2-2, 1-1), 7:30 p.m.
The Warriors look to bounce back, while the Panthers hope to make it two NLC wins in a row.
The pair met twice in 2011 with Wawasee winning 20-12 in the regular season and NorthWood ending the Warriors’ season in the sectional by a 14-10 count.
Wawasee, who has now lost to powers South Bend St. Joseph and Concord, saw it all go south last week versus the explosive Minutemen. The Warriors had seven turnovers and Concord scored five of its’ touchdowns on plays of 30 yards or more.
The Warriors also are expected to be without standout tailback Derrick Sorensen Friday night. The senior has a concussion. Sorensen rushed for over 100 yards in a 20-7 win at Whitko in the season opener and had 100 yards on the ground in a 24-23 home win over Northridge in overtime two weeks ago.
NorthWood will rely on its option attack, keyed by first-year quarterback Will Kirkwood. The Panthers rushed for 262 yards last week versus Goshen (1-3). Freshman Tanner Cleveland led the way with 20 carries for 109 yards.
Triton (0-4, 0-2) at John Glenn (2-2, 2-0), 7:30 p.m.
Triton coach Rodney Younis feels good about a couple of things this week as his team tries to pick up a win in Walkerton.
“This is the first week where we will be pretty much at full strength in terms of our numbers,” said Younis. “That’s exciting and will definitely help us. We’ll have more players in the proper positions and that will help us.”
“We are seeing progress and that’s our No. 1 concern. Our defense did an outstanding job last week (in a 7-0 loss to Bremen). Their backs were against the wall and they kept us in the game.”
Triton has lost nine in a row to Glenn. The Falcons beat LaVille 37-6 a week ago. Coach Justin Bogunia’s team, which has defeated Triton nine straight times, graduated 12 seniors from last year’s 8-3 team. The big loss was tailback/linebacker Josh Anderson, who rushed for over 2,000 yards and 35 touchdowns and is now at Indiana State.
“Glenn is physical and they run their wing-T well,” said Younis, whose team lost 63-7 to the Falcons in 2011. “They lost a lot of kids, but they are a 3-A school and have capable players to step in.”
Wabash (0-4, 0-2) at Whitko (1-3, 1-1), 7 p.m.
Whitko coach Wayne Swender hopes his team learned a valuable lesson last week that they apply this week.
“We can’t overlook anyone we play,” said Swender. “I think we learned that last week. We got our eyes opened and learned that on any given Friday, anyone can beat you. You just can’t look at records or last year’s scores.”
Whitko dropped a 13-10 decision at TRC foe Manchester, who was previously winless, last Friday night.
“Manchester wanted it more than we did,” said Swender. “We struggled to move the ball and their defense did a nice job.”
The Wildcats had just a total of 133 yards in the loss to the Squires. Whitko is 8-0 all-time versus Wabash.
“We just have to come out with better intensity this week,” Swender said. “We need to get off the ball better and be more consistent. We’re still searching for our identity.”
Area Games Friday Night
Northern Lakes Conference (all kickoffs at 7:30 p.m.)
Warsaw at Northridge
NorthWood at Wawasee
Goshen at Concord
Elkhart Memorial at Plymouth
Three Rivers Conference (all kickoffs at 7 p.m.)
Northfield at Tippecanoe Valley
Wabash at Whitko
Southwood at Rochester
Manchester at North Miami
Northern State Conference
Triton at John Glenn, 7:30
LaVille at Knox, 7:30
Culver at Bremen, 7:00
Jimtown at New Prairie, 7:30