The first full week of the NLC high school football season is Friday night and there are a pair of interesting match ups on the slate.
The No. 2-ranked Class 5A Concord Minutemen host the NorthWood Panthers while the Northridge Raiders entertain the Wawasee Warriors.
Concord and NorthWood both enter the game with 2-0 records. The Minutemen are 1-0 in the NLC after last week’s 38-7 win over Elkhart Memorial.
The 2008 season was the last time these two were both unbeaten heading into the game. Concord was 2-0 after wins over East Noble (49-25) and Memorial (57-32) and NorthWood had wins over Jimtown (21-7) and Culver Military Academy (14-6). The Minutemen emerged with a 36-20 victory at Andrews Field in Nappanee.
The Nothridge-Wawasee contest is intriguing for two reasons. Northridge is 2-0 to start the season for the first time since 1992 and first-year Raider coach Tom Wogomon was a Wawasee for the past six seasons. The same 1992 season was also the last time the Raiders began 3-0.
“It’s a unique situation since it’s a conference game against a team that I coached a year ago,” Wogomon said. “Seeing guys I coached with last season will be nice. It will seem weird until the whistle blows. Once that happens and the players step on the field things will be back to normal with both teams wanting to start the conference season with a 1-0 record.”
Wawasee’s first-year coach Josh Ekovich was Wogomon’s offensive line coach.
“This is the one everyone had been waiting for and asking about,” he said. “I’m sure both teams are going to be excited for this one.”
NorthWood (2-0) at Concord (2-0)
Kickoff: 7:30 p.m.
Series record: NorthWood 27-17
Last season: Concord 28-7
Concord is going for its fourth straight NLC crown something that hasn’t happened since NorthWood put together a streak of six in a row from 1991-96.
“We are preparing our players that NorthWood is coming here with the intention of taking away something we have got,” Concord coach Tim Dawson said. “We need a full-quarter game. We have not had to play a full 48 minutes yet. That should change this week.
“NorthWood returns eight starters on offense. They can move the ball. The Panthers have a trio of backs in (junior) Dominic Miranda, (sophomore) Tanner Cleveland and (junior ) Travis Bear they can give the ball to. If that isn’t enough (senior quarterback) Will Kirkwood is a pretty good runner.”
The Minutemen rushed for 101 yards and passed for 169 last week in the Memorial game.
“Concord is the most balanced team on offense we have seen to this point,” NorthWood coach Scott Hoover said. “Concord has a solid running game plus (senior quarterback) Trevor Wilmore can throw the ball. The other thing that make Wilmore dangerous is if he doesn’t like what he sees he is perfectly capable of tucking the ball away and running.”
Special teams have been huge for Concord in the first two weeks as junior Jarrell Pointdexter returned a punt 46 yards for a touchdown in Week 1 and a kickoff 90 yards for a score in Week 2.
“Our special teams have given us good field position the first two weeks,” Dawson said. “Working with short fields really dictates what we do on offense.”
Big plays is something Hoover wants his defense to work on eliminating.
“Our defense has been pretty good so far,” the coach said.
“(Junior) Scott Kern has been the leader in the defensive line, (junior) Derek Weldy has played well at linebacker and the secondary as a while has played well. Miranda and Cleveland have been good coverage guys for us. We put Miranda on CMA’s big receiver last week. I don’t think he had any catches on Friday night and maybe one on Saturday.”
Miranda also had a key interception late in the game that preserved NorthWood’s 28-20 victory.
Senior wide receiver Adam Glanders and classmate running back Jackson Marlow missed Concord’s game last week and will probably be out again this week.
“Both of them really want to play, but neither one would be 100 percent plus there would be the risk of further injury,” Dawson said. “We think we have the chance to be a pretty good football team so in the long run we need them healthy.”