Johnstown Independent

Northridge Roundup

Football team ends 23-game league skid

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Northridge's Thomas Williams runs the ball against Fredericktown earlier this season, but he was a defensive leader with six tackles as the Vikings defeated Utica 33-26 on Sept. 21.
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Despite winning its first league game since 2008, nothing changed for the Northridge High School football team, according to coach Darby Riley.

Even after defeating Utica 33-26 on Sept. 21 to snap a 23-game losing streak in the MBC, the Vikings still were getting dirty and scuffed up in practice in preparation for the rest of their league schedule.

"Some people say that luck is preparation and opportunity coming together, so we still have to prepare like we always have," said Riley, whose team was 3-2 overall and 1-1 in the MBC before playing East Knox on Sept. 28. "We believe you make your own luck. We're still doing fumble drills every day at practice. We've done it before and we'll do it again."

It was the first MBC win for the Vikings since they defeated Loudonville 21-10 in the ninth week of the 2008 season.

"First and foremost (the victory over Utica) builds a lot more confidence in the players and made them aware of the things we're pushing them to do," Riley said. "The little disciplines that we do, it takes a lot to buy into doing those day in and day out.

"We go from 3:45 (p.m.) and go between 7 (p.m.) and 7:30 (p.m.) each night, which is longer than what we want to go, but we have things that need to be done in practice. (The win) helps the players understand the hard work will pay off. This (past) week in practice there was a whole lot less explaining why we have to do certain things."

Against Utica, Jacob Burke had 278 yards rushing on 34 carries as the Vikings ran for 305 yards. The junior running back had touchdowns of 5, 26, 38 and 43 yards.

Bryant Garee was 6-for-8 passing for 83 yards and a 16-yard touchdown to Chase Hess.

"I go back to what (former Newark Catholic coach) J.D. Graham taught me," Riley said. "You have to try to keep it simple. We have about eight running plays and we adjust them to the type of defense we will face. We change the blocking schemes to make them successful.

"Our offensive line has been tremendous. The holes we had in the Utica game were great. The linemen have been relentless and the receivers have been getting downfield and getting in people's faces. Those are the things that turn 10-yard runs into 25 yards."

Thomas Williams led the defense with six tackles against Utica.

"The big thing we did against Utica was hold on to the ball," Riley said. "Defensively, we did a great job. We gave up a couple long pass plays, including a 51-yard touchdown and a kickoff return (for an 86-yard touchdown) but were able to make plays when we needed them."

The Vikings play at home Friday, Oct. 5, against Danville. The Blue Devils were 4-1 overall and 2-0 in the MBC before playing Centerburg on Sept. 28.

Last season, Danville beat the Vikings 50-8.

"My biggest goal for right now is for teams to come in and know that they are in a game," Riley said. "I don't want them to look at us as being a 'gimme.'"

Simmons advances to district golf

Sophomore Matt Simmons shot an 83 in the Division II sectional boys golf tournament Sept. 25 at The Players Club at Foxfire to advance to district Wednesday, Oct. 3, at Granville Golf Course.

It will be Simmons' first district appearance.

"I have to play my own game (at district) and I expect the same mental aspects that I faced at sectional," Simmons said. "I have to play as well as I can and make smart choices on the course."

At district, the top two individuals not on a qualifying team advance to the state tournament Oct. 12 and 13 at the Ohio State Scarlet Course.

Simmons said he played a practice round earlier in the season at Granville Golf Course. He played The Players Club last season in sectional competition and shot a 101.

"You have to put the ball in play all of the time," Simmons said of The Players Club. "There is a stretch on (holes) 14, 15 and 16 that you have to always be in play with your drives or you will put up big numbers. That's the key to playing well here."

The Vikings finished sixth of 11 teams with a 367. They shot the same score as Heath but won the tiebreaker because their fifth player, junior Ethan Doon, had a better score (98) than Heath's fifth player, Brian McOsker (107).

District-qualifying teams were Watterson (358), Hartley (324) and London (358). The other individual qualifiers were North Union's Blake Barry (82) and Heath's Derek Hamm (84).

Rounding out the Northridge scoring were senior Tyler Choate (94), junior Austin Bilderback (94) and senior Jacob Eckhardt (96).

"We shot 23 shots better than we did last year, so that's a great improvement," said coach Tony Bilderback, whose team shot a 399 last year at sectional. "I thought if we would shoot bogey golf, we could get out. That would have been a 360 and (London's) 358 got out (to district)."

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