By GREG KEIM
THE GOSHEN NEWS
When the Fairfield Falcons and the West Noble Chargers clash Friday night it will be the 50th meeting in the high school football series between the two local programs.
The Falcons and Chargers have played at least once each season since 1969. West Noble was in its second year of football while Fairfield was in its first.
West Noble was a 56-0 winner in the initial meeting.
“West Noble is the longest rivalry we have and as of now it’s the only school we play that our school district borders,” Fairfield coach Bob Miller said. “There is something special about those border rivals. In our conference (NECC) we don’t have that luxury. For most of those games we have to drive an hour or two.”
The Falcons have had the upper hand in the series recently, winning four of the last five games.
West Noble (1-2) at Fairfield (2-1)
Kickoff: 7 p.m.
Series record: Fairfield 25-21
Last season: Fairfield 35-14
Fairfield is averaging 30.3 points per game on offense compared to 16.3 for West Noble. The defenses are closer as the Falcons are allowing 20.0 points per game and the Chargers 21.0.
“West Noble is big and physical. They are going to run the ball and pound it at you,” Miller said. “They don’t do a lot of things on offense, but the things they do they do well. West Noble runs a lot of misdirection and option. Both are plays you have to be very disciplined on defense. We have struggled on defense. We didn’t return many on defense. In our front seven we had one with experience and two in the secondary.
“I’m hoping it’s a matter of getting them more reps in game situations. We need to focus on doing the little things. If you don’t take care of them they snowball into bigger things.”
Fairfield is coming off a 42-7 win at Fremont in Week 3. Five-nine (175) senior Cameron Kitson rushed for 180 yards on 14 carries. He scored on runs of 11, 6, 3 and 70 yards.
“Cameron is an athletically talented kid, but he is also the product of hard work,” Miller said. “When he was in our youth program he broke his arm two years in a row. He was small and I think he thought about giving up football. Instead he ended up getting in our weight room and pound-for-pound is one of the strongest kids on the team.”
Also for the Falcons, 5-11 (150) senior quarterback Kyle Mast connected on 9 of 13 passes for 86 yards. He tossed TDs to 5-11 (185) senior Garrett Cole and 5-9 (165) classmate Caleb Armbruster.
West Noble dropped a 26-12 decision to Garrett last Friday.
Leading rushers for the Chargers were 6-0 (170) junior Payton Schrock 70 yards on 10 attempts and 5-9 (185) junior Levi Nelson 60 on 17.
Northridge (3-0) at Plymouth (2-1)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Series record: Plymouth 26-6
Last season: Plymouth 34-0
There have been a couple of close ones like a 14-13 score in 2008 and 28-21 count in 2006, but the 2001 season is the last time the Northridge Raiders notched a win over the Plymouth Rockies.
That game coincidently was played at the “Rock Pile” in Plymouth. Josiah Boomershine scored three TDs, Adam Smith two and Brian Rhodes kicked four PATs for Northridge.
Northridge is looking to go 4-0 to start a season for the first time since 1991. That season the Raiders defeated Rochester 31-0, Wawasee 51-6, Plymouth 21-14 and Warsaw 3-0 under the direction of Dennis Sienicki. Northridge finished the season with a 6-4 record.
The Raiders are averaging 25.3 points per game on offense and 11.3 on defense.
Leading scorers for Northridge are 6-0 (171) senior quarterback Tanner Love with 24 points, 5-8 (185) junior Cam Ridenour 18 and 5-8 (130) junior placekicker Hunter Hardin 18.
Plymouth opened the season with wins over Bremen (34-13) and Rochester (35-0) before dropping a 20-19 come-from-behind thriller to the Warsaw Tigers.
Concord (3-0) at Wawasee (1-2)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Series record: Concord 34-13
Last season: Concord 54-7
The Class 5A No. 2-ranked Concord Minutemen have taken control of this series in recent years by winning nine of the last 10 since a 23-8 Wawasee victory in the 2003 season.
“Watching Wawasee on film you can see they have big-play potential,” Concord coach Tim Dawson said.
“They have had the same kind of problem we have had in the early parts of our games and that is not being able to finish drives.”
Wawasee have two weapons on offense — 6-1 (195) junior quarterback Gage Reinhard and 6-3 (175) junior wide receiver Clayton Cook — Dawson is concerned about.
“Reinhard has proven he is a weapon and Cook is a handful for a defense to cover,” the coach said. “Wawasee has not be able to run the ball as well as they would like.”
Concord is seeking a fourth straight NLC title this season.
“Winning a fourth title is important to our seniors,” Dawson said.
An example of Concord’s slower starts is the fact the Minutemen have scored 21 points in the third quarter the last two weeks in a 38-7 win over Elkhart Memorial and a 31-7 win over NorthWood.
“Our offense has been explosive in the third,” Dawson said. “What we need to do is develop some more consistency early on.”
One part of the game the veteran coach feels has helped his team on both sides of the ball and that is special teams.
Five-nine (154) junior Jarrell Pointdexter has returned a punt and a kickoff for scores so far this season.
“When you have someone back there with his speed it can make the opposing team kick away from him,” Dawson said. “We have also had two other returns called back because of penalties.
“Our coverage teams has also been very good. I don’t think we’ve had a team return a kickoff past the 30-yard line. That gives our defense the potential to give us a short field and I like our offense’s chances on a short field.
“Last week in the NorthWood game we had a feeling they were going to squib the ball to start the second half so we put Pointdexter and (5-8, 166, senior) Chris Martin on the second line. NorthWood squibbed it and we (Martin) returned it to midfield. That set the tone for the second half.”
The Minutemen scored in three plays as 6-1 (177) senior QB Trevor Wilmore tossed a scoring pass to Pointdexter.
Concord will still be without the services of 6-2 (185) senior wideout Adam Glanders and 5-10 (170) senior running back Jackson Marlow.
“They are starting to do some things in practice but have not had any contact yet,” the coach said. “Right now it looks like it could be one of the next two games.
“We are fortunate we have the depth we do at those two positions so we don’t have to try and bring them back before they are ready.”
That would make it either the Goshen game on Sept. 20 of the Jimtown game on Sept. 27.