The Warsaw and Wawasee football teams will find out right away come Friday night where the pair stack up in the Northern Lakes Conference.
The Tigers and the Warriors face huge tests in league openers for both squads.
Warsaw, coming off a 34-23 road loss to East Noble, will host Class 4-A No. 2 Plymouth. The Rockies have outscored Bremen and Rochester 82-17 in two wins.
Wawasee, which went to 2-0 with a 37-12 win at West Noble last Friday, treks to Middlebury to face Class 4-A No. 5 Northridge. The Raiders, who reached the semistate a year ago, are 2-0 with wins over South Bend Adams (10-7) and Michigan City (28-14).
Both Whitko and Tippecanoe Valley try to bounce back from close losses in week two as each start Three Rivers Conference play.
Triton will see its second straight juggernaut as the Trojans travel to Class 1-A No. 3 Pioneer. The Panthers, who were state runner-up in 2014, have outscored their first two foes this season 87-0.
Following is a quick look at Friday night matchups.
Plymouth (2-0) at Warsaw (1-1), 7 p.m.
Warsaw coach Phil Jensen knows what Plymouth will bring to the table.
“Their kids always step up in NLC play and we always get their best game,” said Jensen, whose team lost 47-6 to Plymouth in 2014. “They are just a really good football team. I think they have the best coaching staff that we will go against this year.”
Jensen knows the Rockies, who won the NLC title at 7-0 a year ago and finished 11-1 overall, very well. He and Plymouth coach John Barron were teammates at Butler. Barron’s son Jack is the engine that makes the Rockies go from his quarterback spot.
“We have to make them earn it,” Jensen said. “We can’t let them just run the ball over us and get huge chunks of yards. We have to slow them down.
“We have to run the ball better and take advantage of the opportunities that we get to score.”
Warsaw linebacker Dylan Childers, who had an interception return for a score last week, is questionable with an ankle injury.
Warsaw allowed 590 total yards last week at East Noble.
Wawasee (2-0) at Northridge (2-0), 7 p.m.
This clash may not have the “edge” to it of the last two years, but it’s a key contest for sure.
“Every NLC game is big and this one is big, but we are preparing for it like we do for every game,” said Wawasee coach Josh Ekovich.
The Raiders, who went 11-3 in a breakout season last fall under former Wawasee coach Tom Wogoman, will present plenty of problems.
“They have a system going and play old-fashioned football,” noted Ekovich of the Raiders. “They play good defense and do what they do well on offense.
“We have to stop the run, hit harder than they do and win the turnover battle. We must take advantage of the opportunities we have.”
Northridge beat Wawasee 55-0 in Syracuse last year.
Tippecanoe Valley (0-2) at North Miami (0-2), 7 p.m.
Will this be the week that the Vikings get that elusive first win for new coach Darin Holsopple?
“We are real close to being 2-0,” said Holsopple, whose team lost 21-14 to Western last week. “I’m not sure we lost either of those first two games. I think it was more that we ran out of time.
“I certainly saw some improvements last week and other things that we need to shore up too. It’s all about getting more reps.”
North Miami went to 0-2 a week ago with a 35-20 loss to Central Noble.
“No. 1 is that both of us want a win Friday night,” remarked Holsopple. “For me, it comes down to us. My concern in on our execution and our improvement. I want us to execute better and play faster.”
North Miami topped the Vikings 41-22 last season.
Maconaquah (2-0) at Whitko (1-1), 7 p.m.
The Wildcats will see a new opponent as the Braves are one of two new teams in the TRC this fall.
“It’s an unknown and that adds to the level of excitement to play them,” said Whitko coach Josh Mohr. “They have good size and are physical. I see a similar mentality to us.”
Whitko dropped a tough 10-8 final to county rival Columbia City last Friday. Maconaquah edged Mississinewa 13-7.
“It was a hard loss to take last week in that we were so close, but our kids have done a great job this week in putting that behind them and moving forward,” Mohr stated.
“I just want to go do what we do Friday night. We need to play faster all the time and focus on ball security. I’m more concerned about us right now.”
Triton (1-1) at Pioneer (2-0), 7 p.m.
Triton will try to make strides from a 56-0 licking by LaVille last Friday night.
It won’t be easy as the Trojans face a Pioneer team that was 13-2 last year and lost 27-26 to North Vermillion in the 1-A state title game. The Panthers are 204-77 under Mike Johnson, now in his 25th season.
“Our first four games are very tough and are focus is to get better every week and click at the end of the year,” said Trion coach Ron Brown. “Pioneer is a great team, just like LaVille was. We want to move the ball and be competitive.
“We know who we are playing. It is what it is.”
Pioneer has wins over Lewis Cass (50-0) and Winamac (37-0).
The Trojans, who rallied to beat Caston in week one, were outgained 410-78 by Class 1-A No. 7 LaVille at home last week.