The battle for bragging rights in Kosciusko County takes place in Syracuse as red-hot Warsaw comes calling on the Warriors on Homecoming Night no less. The pair square off for the W Trophy, with Warsaw looking to remain undefeated in Northern Lakes Conference play.
Tippecanoe Valley welcomes rival Rochester to Death Valley in Akron for a showdown of two of the three remaining unbeatens in the Three Rivers Conference. The Vikings currently share the TRC lead with Rochester and North Miami after tying for the league championship in 2011.
The Valley-Rochester showdown, which is for the Bell Trophy, will also be a Pink Out game Friday night to raise money and awareness for breast cancer. Both teams will take part and fans are encouraged to wear pink to the game.
Triton has a great opportunity to notch its first win Friday night as the Trojans travel to Lakeville to face league foe LaVille. The Trojans, who are 0-6, topped the Lancers (currently 1-5) 41-0 a year ago.
Whitko begins a tough final three-game stretch as TRC unbeaten North Miami comes to South Whitley.
With just three weeks left in the regular season, sectional play starts Oct. 19. The IHSAA will hold the state tournament draw for football on Sunday, Oct. 7 at 7 p.m.
Here’s a quick look at area games this week.
Warsaw (5-1, 4-0) at Wawasee (2-4, 1-3), 7:30 p.m.
On paper, it’s two teams heading in opposite directions as the Tigers have won four in row and the Warriors have lost three straight.
Not so fast says Warsaw coach Phil Jensen, who knows a thing or two about the clash of Kosciusko County rivals.
“This is a great game for both schools and both communities,” said Jensen. “The records don’t mean anything. It’s about neighborhood pride for a lot of these kids, who live that close to one another. It’s for the W trophy and that’s a big deal. It’s a big game. If you can’t get motivated for this one, then what can you get ready to play for.
“I shared with my kids that my first coaching job was at Wawasee with Myron Dickerson. We had a pretty good team that year and Warsaw was struggling. Warsaw kicked the crap out of us. Anyone knows anything can happen in this game.”
The Tigers, who have lost two in a row to Wawasee, are off to their best start at 5-1 since going 10-0 to begin the 2001 campaign. Warsaw and Concord, who meet in the regular-season finale at Warsaw Oct. 12, are the lone unbeatens left in NLC play. The Minutemen took a 48-0 beatdown at No. 1 Jimtown last week for their first loss of the season.
“All’s good right now, but for us, it’s can you do it again this week?,” responded Jensen. “We’re doing what we were built to do. That’s running the ball, passing when we want to, not allowing big plays and not turning the ball over. We’re not going to change. I want it to be the same old thing again Friday night. I do want more solid play from our special teams.”
Junior Tristan McClone continues to have an amazing season in his first year as the feature tailback for the Tigers run-oriented offense. McClone has piled up 1,168 yards on 188 carries with 13 touchdowns.
Wawasee, which beat Warsaw 26-14 in 2011, has struggled with injuries and inexperience. The Warriors have lost to Plymouth, NorthWood and Concord the last three weeks. Wawasee dropped a 53-14 NLC final at Plymouth last Friday as the Rockies rushed for 396 yards in a game that got a little heated at the end as the hosts elected to throw the ball late.
Clayton Cook had a strong game for Wawasee a week ago as he returned a kickoff 93 yards for a score and also caught a 31-yard touchdown toss from quarterback Gage Reinhard.
Rochester (4-2, 4-0) at Tippecanoe Valley (5-1, 4-0), 7 p.m.
There’s always a lot of incentive on both sides when the Vikings meet the Zebras on the gridiron.
No one may be more motivated come Friday night though than Valley standout quarterback Ben Shriver. The junior and son of Valley coach Jeff Shriver attended school in Rochester early on and even played youth football there, including teaming at the time with current Zebra sophomore running back Jacob Howdeshell.
“This game means a lot to everyone,” said coach Shriver. “Anytime we play Rochester, it’s a big deal to a lot of people. Everyone is excited. You hear about the outcome, win or lose.
“I know our kids are excited to play them. We’re glad it’s at our place and it’s going to be a great atmosphere Friday night. A lot of people who are not football fans will be football fans this week.”
“We want to keep the Bell Trophy. We are taking it one game at a time, but I think we need to win out these last three games to win the TRC and that’s one of our goals.”
Valley, which topped Rochester 20-15 last season, has won five in a row since an opening game loss to Culver Military. The Vikings won 45-0 at Wabash last week in a game stopped early in the third quarter due to a transformer at the field that was sparking. Tanner Andrews had three touchdowns in the game and Ben Shriver fired three touchdown passes.
“Rochester has some big weapons and creates a lot of turnovers,” said Shriver of the Zebras, who have won four in a row. “Our secondary must play well and we need to be disciplined on defense. We need consistency on offense and need to take care of the football.”
Triton (0-6, 0-4) at LaVille (1-5, 0-4), 7 p.m.
The mood remains upbeat in Bourbon as the Trojans look to break into the win column Friday night.
“Our focus every week is on getting better and controlling the things we can control,” said Triton coach Rodney Younis. “The thing is that our kids come to work every week. They’re hungry for a win. We all are.”
Triton dropped a 56-17 NSC final to New Prairie a week ago. The Trojans trailed just 21-7 at halftime before the Cougars, who rushed for 434 yards, pulled away. Bryson Mosier threw for 175 yards and a touchdown for the Trojans.
“We played well up until the third quarter and we just ran out of gas,” said Younis, who had 36 players (his entire roster) dressed for the contest. “We definitely had positives to take away from that game.
“The thing is that this week we play a school our size. I think LaVille’s numbers are smaller than ours. They are in a similar situation to us. But, they play physical and hard.”
LaVille has lost 4 in a row since defeating Trinity Lutheran 56-14 Aug. 25. The Lancers have scored a total of 27 points in their five losses and lost 42-15 to Bremen last week.
North Miami (5-1, 4-0) at Whitko (2-4, 2-2), 7 p.m.
The Wildcats will look to shake up things in the TRC by trying to knock off North Miami.
“We know we’re going to have our hands full,” said Whitko coach Wayne Swender. “North Miami is very good. They are quick and very well coached.”
Whitko hurt itself in a 27-21 loss to Northfield last week. The Wildcats had four turnovers to none for the Norsemen.
“It was disappointing in that we shot ourselves in the foot with the turnovers,” said Swender. “We can be competitive, but we have to hang on to the ball. But, our kids have had good practices this week. Our young kids are learning and growing up fast. Our young running backs have done an excellent job for us.”
Sophomores Tanner Hughes and Devin Gerding give Whitko a strong 1-2 punch in the backfield. Gerding rushed for 122 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s TRC loss.
The Wildcats finish the regular season on a tough note with TRC games at Rochester and at Tippecanoe Valley the final two weeks.
North Miami, which beat Whitko 14-13 in 2011, has won four in a row.
Warsaw at Wawasee, 7:30
Plymouth at Concord, 7:30
Elkhart Memorial at NorthWood, 7:30
Northridge at Goshen, 7:30
Rochester at Tippecanoe Valley, 7:00
North Miami at Whitko, 7:00
Wabash at Northfield, 7:00
Southwood at Manchester, 7:00
Triton at LaVille, 7:00
Jimtown at Culver, 7:00
Glenn at New Prairie, 7:30
Knox at Bremen, 7:30
SB St. Joseph at Penn, 7:00
SB Riley at Mishawaka Marian, 7:00
Mishawaka at SB Adams (at School Field), 7:00
SB Washington at SB Clay, 7:00
Elkhart Central at FW Snider (non-conference), 7:00
Fairfield at Lakeland, 7:00
Angola at Prairie Heights, 7:00
Eastside at Fremont, 7:00
West Noble at Central Noble, 7:00
Churubusco at Culver Academy (non-conference), 7:30