The prep football campaign reaches its midway point Friday night as week five arrives already.
That means just four more regular-season games after this week and at least one sectional game for everyone.
Warsaw looks to make it three NLC wins in a row against a resurgent Northridge squad. The Tigers sit at 2-0 in the league, trailing only undefeated Concord (3-0). The Minutemen moved to No. 1 in the Class 5-A poll this week after Penn pummeled Fort Wayne Snider last week and Concord beat Wawasee.
Wawasee, with three straight losses to strong teams, faces another big test on the road at NorthWood. The Warriors split with the Panthers in 2012, earning a huge win in sectional play.
Tippecanoe Valley travels to Northfield still smarting from a bitter 34-34 conference loss at home to Southwood last week. The Vikings are shooting for a third straight TRC title and can not afford to lose another league contest as they sit at 1-1.
Whitko looks to make it three wins in a row at winless Wabash.
Triton will look to make it a happy celebration time in Bourbon. The Trojans, who will welcome back plenty of former players and coaches for a 50th anniversary party, hosts conference foe Glenn.
Here’s a closer look at the match ups Friday night.
Northridge (3-1, 1-1) at Warsaw (3-1, 2-0), 7:30
The Tigers are right where they want to be in the Northern Lakes Conference.
Now, they must make sure to take care of business against a Northridge team that has responded well under new coach Tom Wogomon.
“Absolutely, Northridge is for real,” said Warsaw coach Phil Jensen. “They are 3-1 for a reason and they are playing with a new sense of purpose under a new coach. Their kids have always played us tough too and coach Wogomon is familiar with us.”
Warsaw comes into Friday night after a methodical 28-0 win at Elkhart Memorial last week in which the defense and special teams controlled the contest. The Raiders dropped a tough 21-14 final at Plymouth.
“We’re going to have to play four good quarters of football Friday night against a real good team,” Jensen said. “We have to be physical and disciplined. We need to make them earn everything and be patient with no mistakes.
“We are where we want to be in the NLC. You don’t want to be chasing teams. Right now, we control our own destiny.”
Warsaw posted a 35-21 win in Middlebury last year. Star tailback Tristan McClone ran wild for Warsaw in the win with a school record 322 yards rushing and a record five touchdowns. McClone went on to set the program single-season record with 1,718 yards last year.
Warsaw must also keep its’ focus Friday night as this is Homecoming Week at WCHS.
McClone leads Warsaw with 538 yards on 120 carries and seven touchdowns. Jason Taylor has 109 yards on 25 rushes. Senior quarterback Austin Head is 23-49 for 343 yards with three TDs and three interceptions. Tanner Balazs has 13 receptions for 222 yards and Conner McCammack has six catches and two touchdowns.
Gabe Furivall, the fired-up leader of the Tiger defense, paces Warsaw with 27 total tackles and 5.5 tackles for loss. Other leaders for the Warsaw defense are Seth Fouts, Kyle Heckaman and Caleb Wooldridge.
Wawasee (1-3, 0-2) at NorthWood (3-1, 1-1), 7:30
The Warriors hope to get that first conference win in a tough venue.
NorthWood, whose lone loss was a 31-7 setback at Concord two weeks ago, is a formidable foe always at Jim Andrews Field.
Wawasee should know they can upend the Panthers. After a 35-21 home loss in the regular season in 2012, the Warriors upset NorthWood 31-28 in a sectional game last season.
“Last year was a tale of two stories,” said first-year Wawasee coach Josh Ekovich. “When we played in the regular season we did not have any confidence and we were fighting for an identity. We changed our offense and our mindset for the sectional game and we ended up getting a couple breaks and winning. Even though you would think there would be a correlation between last year and this Friday, it does not completely prepare us. We are running a few different formations and plays than last year as is NorthWood.
Wawasee looks to bounce back after a strong first half versus Concord last week. The Minutemen exploded in the final half for a 52-17 win.
Tippecanoe Valley (1-3, 1-1) at Northfield (2-2, 1-1), 7
Jeff Shriver is not about to mince words.
The Tippecanoe Valley coach knows his talented team needs to get results on the field, starting this week.
Valley, off to an unexpected 1-3 start, is 1-1 in the TRC.
“Right now, for us, every game is a must win,” said Shriver. “The reality is that we stubbed our toe last week in the TRC and used our lifeline. We still control our own destiny, but we have to take care of business. We’re very capable of winning the TRC.”
The Vikings dropped a one-point final in part due to five turnovers last week. Valley out gained Southwood 500-249 in total yards.
“Our mistakes were huge last week,” Shriver noted. “The turnovers, along with plays on special teams. We shot ourselves in the foot.
“We circled the wagons on Monday, practiced in full pads and re-examined a lot of things. This week, we have to be disciplined on defense and be much more physical and tenacious.”
The Vikings, who went 8-3 a year ago, have put up big offensive numbers. Star senior receiver Tanner Andrews had 622 yards receiving and five touchdowns. Senior quarterback Ben Shriver has came back from a knee injury to throw for 1,038 yards and complete 63 percent of his throws this fall.
Whitko (2-2, 2-0) at Wabash (0-4, 0-2), 7
Whitko sits tied atop the TRC standings with Rochester thanks to its ground game.
The Wildcats have won two in a row, both league games, and rushed for 368 yards last week in mashing Manchester 46-24.
“The kids are gaining confidence each week, winning helps,” said first-year Whitko coach Josh Mohr. “They have worked very hard this year and it is beginning to pay off now.
“Devin (Gerding), Tanner (Hughes), Ethan (Nicodemus) and Trace (Killian) get a lot of the glory for their rushing totals. The “unsung hero’s” are the guys up-front. The offensive linemen work extremely hard to give running lanes to the backs. They are grinders.”
Whitko quarterback Ethan Nicodemus had a prolific night a week ago. He ran for 108 yards and two touchdowns and three of his four completions on the night went for scores.
Whitko beat Wabash 51-19 a year ago. The Apaches lost 21-0 to North Miami last week to drop to 0-4.
“Wabash is a talented team,” added Mohr. “They play hard and fast. We must be mentally focused and ready for Friday night.
“We must be focused on our jobs and execute on both sides of the ball. I want to see the focus and determination for 48 minutes.”
Glenn (2-2, 2-1) at Triton (1-3, 0-2), 7