FRIDAY NIGHT PREVIEW
Posted September 8, 2022
VICKSBURG AT EDWARDSBURG…Six of the teams in Michigan’s Wolverine Conference have an overall record of 2-1 and that includes Vicksburg and Edwardsburg who meet tomorrow night at Leo Hoffman Field.
The Bulldogs like to sling it around with quarterback Caden Bowling frequently looking for deep threat RJ Vallier, and that offense is averaging 32 points per game. Grant Anderson has been a force on defense. He had nine tackles in their win over Sturgis a couple weeks ago.
But in the last three years, Vicksburg hasn’t come within 47 points of Edwardsburg and they have plenty of company there, don’t they? Last week, the Eddies racked up 369 yards of rushing on Niles, and they bring so many weapons at you in that running game. That includes Andrew Colvin who ran for 119 yards last week. But what pleased Kevin Bartz the most was the improvement of his defense, which held the Vikings to 7 points after giving up 58 in the first two games.
BATTLE CREEK LAKEVIEW AT ST. JOSEPH…A pair of 2-1 teams also square off at Dickinson Stadium as Battle Creek Lakeview plays its fourth straight road game with a visit to St. Joseph.
Lakeview lost the conference opener to Portage Central last week, but they have been stingy on defense, with defensive tackle Jayden Dennis and company allowing just over seven points per game. Spartans’ coach Jerry DiOrio is coming off heart surgery in January, but last week didn’t help as his team lost a 13-point lead and gave up a touchdown on fourth-and-two with two minutes left.
St. Joseph had no problems with Kalamazoo Central last week, but they face a much tougher challenge with the Spartans. They’ll need another solid running game from Trey McGinnis and steady play from quarterback Matthew Lanier if they expect to avenge last year’s loss to Lakeview. Dylan Stevens and Elijah Turner have been stalwarts on defense.
FAIRFIELD AT WEST NOBLE…In Indiana, conference play is hitting full swing and in the Northeast Corner Conference, Fairfield hopes to stay unbeaten with a win at West Noble.
Matt Thacker’s Falcons have beaten two 5A schools and a 6A so far this season, so they won’t be daunted by this road trip to a potential sectional foe. Quarterback Carter Kitson directs the triple-option attack with powerful Brecken Maran leading the rushing yardage from fullback. Defensively, Fairfield has been steady defensively, headed up by the tackling of Cohen Custer and Braden Berkey.
They’ll face a Chargers squad coming off their first loss of the season last week, at the hands of Angola. Monte Mawhorter’s squad has been balanced offensively with Estil Pruitt leading the running game and Drew Yates leading the passing game. Senior Zach Beers and sophomore Jaden Eash lead the defense, which will have to stay disciplined to shut down Fairfield.
ROCHESTER AT TIPPECANOE VALLEY…For the first time in 15 years, the Battle for the Bell will have two unbeaten teams, as Rochester brings its prolific offense into Death Valley to face the Vikings.
We were there for the last clash of the unbeatens in 2007 and it was a wild affair with the Zebras pulling out a last minute win. This one could be just as crazy. Rochester running back Alex Deming is the man to watch for the Zebras, averaging nearly 150 yards per game, including a 226-yard effort in the win over Knox. The Zebras are putting up 51 points per game.
But now they face Steven Moriraty’s Vikings who have good balance between a running game led by Nathan Parker, and a very efficient passing offense under quarterback Cody Eastgate. The onus may be on the defense that’s only allowing 13 points per game. Can they do that Friday night? If so, the Bell stays Green and Gold as it has since 2018. They didn’t play last year, due to CoVID
KNOX AT JOHN GLENN…Two teams in bad moods meet in Walkerton, as Knox makes the short trek to John Glenn.
Russ Radtke’s Redskins couldn’t get anything going on offense last week, blanked by North Judson, 26-0. That’s the first time a Radtke squad has been blanked since he was at Griffith in 2009. So you know the Redskins will be leaning heavily this week for improvement from quarterback Cohen Watson and the offense.
But they also have to find a way to contain John Glenn and the speed of Ty Larkin which was on display last week in the second half against Jimtown. John Barron’s Falcons lost their NIC opener, and they’ll be looking to fine tune some things on both sides of the ball. They made some nice adjustments in the second half against the Jimmies and defensive tackle Kamren Hardesty had a solid game. He and the Falcons need to control the line of scrimmage against Knox to get the W
WARSAW AT NORTHWOOD…The area’s two biggest conferences have headliner matchups this week. Unbeatens collide in Nappanee, as Warsaw visits #6 NorthWood.
Bart Curtis is going to want to bring his brand of power football into this one….play keep away from the Panthers and then find ways to control their explosive offense. The Tigers have been very good defensively. They haven’t allowed a touchdown in the last 10 quarters. And on offense, the Wild Hogs just try to wear down opponents, and they’ll have a huge size advantage against NorthWood. Curtis would love to see heaping portion of German Flores-Ortega and Reed Zollinger running the ball.
The problem is they have not faced an offense as explosive as this NorthWood squad. Owen Roeder has thrown seven touchdown passes in the last two weeks, and this receiving corps of Nitro Tuggle, J.J. Payne, Parker Filley and more is the best in the area. The Tigers will have to apply pressure and tackle in space extremely well if they’re going to win this one.
And one other thing to watch. NorthWood has a kicker named Dominic DeFreitas who leads the state in field goals. He might be a difference maker in this one.
PENN AT ELKHART…The game we have for you on TV-46 is the showdown of the two schools with the largest enrollments in the viewing area. Penn and Elkhart meet in a key NIC battle.
Yes, the Kingsmen are 2-2, but when you consider their losses are to #3 Cathedral and Cincinnati St. Xavier, it’s understandable. Cory Yeoman’s team has been solid, but not spectacular offensively, with new quarterback Nolan McCullough and the running tandem of Jojo Williams and Jake Balis. Defensively, Penn has shown some susceptibility to the passing game, but they have faced two top-flight quarterbacks the last two weeks. If they can pressure the Elkhart quarterbacks, this one could be different.
Elkhart is 4-0 and head coach Romison Saint-Louis believes his team can beat the Kingsmen. It will be – by far – the best opponent Elkhart has played this season considering their opponents have a combined record of 2-14. It’s a solid backfield with Aalias Leonard, Gavin Houser and Jaiven Sharp, and a two-quarterback system with Brady Krueper and Quinn Rost. But the big story for Elkhart has been a defense only giving up 3 points per game.
What will unfold before a big crowd at Rice Field? We’ll find out when we show you tomorrow night at 11 and Saturday morning at 9 on TV46.
Author: Chuck Freeby, WHME-TV 46 Sports Director