Johnstown, Northridge primed for battle
With a new league comes a new week on the schedule for the game between the Johnstown-Monroe and Northridge high school football teams.
A move from the MBC to the LCL has the teams facing off in a week six contest Friday, Oct. 4, at Northridge after playing in the final week of the regular season for nine years.
"It's been a rivalry forever," said Johnstown senior quarterback Josh Kirkpatrick, whose team was 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the LCL-Small School Division before playing Licking Valley on Sept. 27. "I just wish it was still at the end of the season.
"It's always a hard-hitting game and we really go after it on the field. We know the Northridge kids and we're buddies before and after the game, but it's always a big game."
The game was moved from week seven to week 10 in 2004. In the nine week 10 meetings, the Johnnies held a 7-2 advantage.
Johnstown won 56-6 last season and has won seven consecutive games in the series. It has won by a combined 257-21 in the last four meetings.
"It's a big rivalry because we're just five miles apart," said Northridge senior two-way lineman Zach Hossler, whose team was 2-2 overall and 0-1 in the LCL-Small before playing Licking Heights on Sept. 27. "Most of us know each other. It's intense. ... That's the best way to describe it."
In 2006, the Johnnies won 16-12 to break a five-game losing streak to the Vikings. Northridge won by a combined 85-24 from 2002-05, with a 14-6 decision in 2005 being the closest margin.
"It's just fun, having played sports together with (Johnstown senior) Clayton Bullard and a lot of their players," said Jacob Burke, a senior running back and linebacker for the Vikings. "Clayton and I have wrestled against each other forever and it's nice to go up against them.
"We're all friends, but for that 48 minutes (during the game), we're not friends. That's when it's game time and you go at it."
"The Johnstown and Northridge rivalry means everything," said Bullard, a defensive lineman and tight end for the Johnnies. "Ever since we've been in middle school, it's been intense. They are just up the road and if we beat them, we get bragging rights for the year."
Johnstown is coming off a 26-13 loss to Granville on Sept. 20 in its LCL opener. The Johnnies trailed 19-0 after one quarter, but they held the Blue Aces scoreless in the second half.
Senior place-kicker Charles Benton had field goals of 31 and 37 yards in the second quarter for Johnstown, and senior running back Alex Workman had a 1-yard touchdown run in the third for the lone score of the second half.
Junior running back Cody Farley ran for 166 yards on 14 carries. Kirkpatrick added 18 yards on 13 carries and was 7-for-18 passing for 108 yards.
"I could be doing better, but I have continued working hard at things the coaches have been pushing me to do," said Kirkpatrick, who is in his first season starting at quarterback. "I'm working to get better each week on reads in the option game. I work on it every day in practice and work on getting better each week."
Northridge lost to Licking Valley 55-8 on Sept. 20 to open league play.
Junior quarterback Bryant Garee was 6-for-19 passing for 44 yards, including a 24-yard touchdown to junior wide receiver Chase Hess.
"Since we are so close together (in proximity to Johnstown) and it's one of the best rivalries in Licking County, it's the game everyone has marked on their calendars," said Burke, who had 101 yards rushing on 16 carries against Licking Valley. "Everyone runs hard and hits hard. It's just a great game to be a part of."