GOSHEN — While it is still very early in the high school football season there could be a very important Northern Lakes Conference game this Friday night.
The Northridge Raiders (3-0 overall, 1-0 in the NLC) travel to Plymouth to face the Rockies (2-1, 1-0). Kickoff is slated for 7 p.m.
Northridge has wins over South Bend Adams 35-34, South Bend St. Joseph 31-16 and last week Wawasee 27-0 to open the NLC portion of the schedule.
The Rockies dropped a 34-31 decision to East Noble in Week 1 and have followed with wins over Kokomo 41-20 and Warsaw (NLC) 24-19.
“This is a typical John Barron-coached football team. They fly to the football and are quick, athletic, confident, smart, physical and they have size up front on both sides of the ball,” Northridge coach Tom Wogomon said.
John Barron’s son Joe is the team’s quarterback. The younger Barron, according to Max Preps, is one of the top quarterbacks in the state. He has completed 60-of-108 passes (55.6 percent) for 826 yards. He has tossed nine touchdowns and two interceptions.
“Joe Barron has total command of the offense. He really does a great job of reading the defense and he knows where he wants to attack it before the snap,” Wogomon said. “The hard part about defending an offense like Plymouth’s is you have to cover the field up perfectly all the time. If we don’t align correctly they will expose it, and make us pay.”
The leading rushers for the Rockies are senior Kameron Vanlue with 210 yards on 38 carries, junior Ivan Winkle 134 on nine and senior Blake Davis 106 on 12. Top pass receivers are senior Garrett Schramyer with 20 catches for 286 yards, junior Jake Reichard 15 for 185 and senior Seth Randall eight for 147.
“There is no doubt that we are going to have to play a physical, smart football game,” Wogomon said. “Plymouth has the big play threat every time the ball is snapped.”
Senior signal caller Oliver Eveler leads the Raider offense. He is 15-of-34 passing for 334 yards with four TDs and an interception. His favorite receiver is junior Breckin Judd with seven catches for 197 yards. Senior Caid Lacey has rushed for 382 yards on 62 attempts and junior Dominic Crowder had 262 on 38.
The Raiders recorded a 37-34 win over the Rockies last season, but Plymouth holds a 30-8 lead in recent meetings with Northridge.
FAIRFIELD AT FREMONT
The Fairfield Falcons are 2-1 with two straight wins since dropping a 20-14 decision to the Goshen RedHawks in Week 1. Since then the Falcons have defeated Osceola Grace 22-18 and nipped Central Noble 8-0 in overtime this past Friday.
The Fremont Eagles defeated Southern Welles 33-16 to open the season, then dropped a 56-0 decision to Lenawee Christian (Michigan) and topped River Valley (Michigan) 41-14 last week.
“They’re playing good football and in a lot of ways are like us in trying to turn things around for their program,” second-year Fairfield coach Matt Thacker said about Fremont. “They have some very good skill kids and they move their quarterback all over in order to get him the ball. Defensively, they play hard and physical.”
After three straight games at home, this will be the first road trip of the season for the Falcons.
“Practice wise we will not change how we prepare for any opponent whether on the road or at home,” Thacker said. “We have to take it day by day and commit to getting better as a team on a daily basis. It is important for our guys to focus on the next opponent and go 1-0 this week and not worry about where the game is played. Fremont had a two-hour bus ride last Friday and won 41-14.”
Junior Dalton Cripe snared a 10-yard scoring pass from junior QB Cory Lantz for the win in the Central Noble contest.
Lantz was 3-of-8 passing for 59 yards in the game. Junior Nolin Sharick had one catch for 43 yards. Junior Carson Abramson carried the ball 11 times for 49 yards and Cripe 10 for 45.
“ We have to focus on us and take it one play at a time,” Thacker said about the Fremont contest. “We have to continue to play solid defense and work to get better on offense.”
Fairfield and Fremont haven’t meet since the 2015 season when the Falcons soared to a 61-0 victory. Fairfield has won 23 of the last 33 meeting in the series with the Eagles.
CONCORD AT WAWASEE
The Concord Minutemen are the other NLC team that is unbeaten on the regular season and in the NLC. Concord has a non-league win over South Bend St. Joseph 17-14 to go with NLC wins over Elkhart Memorial 31-18 and NorthWood 24-14.
Wawasee opened the season with a 28-14 win over Lakeland before dropping decisions to West Noble 21-6 and Northridge 27-0.
Concord coach Craig Koehler has seen the Warriors only on tape.
“The only things I know about Wawasee is what we have seen on tape,” the coach said. “They have some very good size and have played good defense. Their game with Northridge was very competitive (Northridge led 14-0) for a half. They appear to be a team that will continue to get better each week. They are certainly capable of beating us, especially on their home field, if we are not mentally focused and ready to play.”
Senior QB Ethan Cain leads the Minutemen offense. He is 53-of-85 passing (62.4 percent) for 677 yards. He has tossed five TD passes and no interceptions.
Sophomore Amarion Moore has snared 13 passes for 178 yards and classmate Jack D’Arcy 12 for 215 to lead the Minutemen. Senior Carter Neveraski has gained 132 yards on the ground on 22 carries and Cain 103 on 32.
“We are 3-0, but we are also plus 10 on the year in turnover margin,” the coach said. “We cannot depend on taking the ball away each and every week. That is not sustainable long term.”
Junior signal caller Parker Young passed for 41 yards to senior Ethan Garza to lead the Wawasee offense in the Northridge contest.