A rugged stretch against larger LCL schools has left the Northridge High School football team battered and bruised, but it has not dampened the Vikings' spirit.
Coach Darby Riley said his team remains upbeat and continues to work hard in practice as it prepares to play Friday, Oct. 18, at Newark Catholic.
"We're a little beaten up right now after going through a stretch of three games against two big schools and (Johnstown-Monroe), which isn't big, but has a lot players," said Riley, whose team was 2-4 overall before playing Lakewood on Oct. 11. "We knew this would be a tough stretch.
It's tough when you have 30 kids and you look across and see 60 or 70 kids suited up on the opposite sideline. That's difficult because they have kids playing one way and we have kids playing both on the offensive and defensive sides of the ball. Fatigue takes its toll in the second half."
Riley said the Vikings' roster is down "from more than 40 to less than 30." One of the biggest losses was four-year starting running back Jacob Burke, who suffered a season-ending knee injury in a 55-8 loss to Licking Valley on Sept. 20.
"Jacob was a huge loss," Riley said. "He was running downfield against Licking Valley and he got pulled backward. He has a torn MCL and he also tore his meniscus and plans to have surgery later this month.
"But Jacob's still a part of the team and does what he can. He's still at every practice giving out water and keeping the kids motivated."
Licking Valley was the first of the large-squad stretch for the Vikings. The next was a 40-0 loss to Licking Heights on Sept. 27 before losing to Johnstown 41-0 on Oct. 4.
The loss to the Johnnies was the LCL-Small School Division opener for Northridge. The Vikings had 7 yards rushing compared to 506 for the Johnnies.
"(Junior) Chase Hess has a nagging knee injury, so we're looking for a running back right now," Riley said. "We have a good-sized freshman class with two of them -- linebacker Gage Linkous and center Austin Chambers -- starting for us. Gunner Absten has been seeing time at defensive back for us and Logan Garee is playing linebacker with a broken arm. Also Sam Dorn, a sophomore, has played well at running back and outside linebacker and freshman Daniel Hatfield has played some at safety."
But now, the Vikings will play teams more suited to their roster size.
"We had to play our butts off to only get beat by 40," Riley said. "You want to protect the kids so they won't get beaten up.
"But the kids still have good attitudes and work hard in practice. I can't say enough about that. Our kids still get out there and fight on the field and have a lot of resiliency. Now we go week by week and see how we can do."
District soccer begins at West Jefferson
The boys soccer team, which is 4-7-1 overall and finished 3-4 in the LCL, has the 14th seed in the Division III district tournament.
The Vikings open the postseason Wednesday, Oct. 16, at 13th-seeded West Jefferson, and the winner plays at 11th-seeded Madison Christian on Saturday, Oct. 19, in the second round.
The second-round winner plays second-seeded Grandview, 19th-seeded Grove City Christian or 20th-seeded Northside Christian in a district semifinal Oct. 23 at the home of the higher seed.
Northridge has not played any of these teams this season.
"I like our draw, especially for where we selected," assistant coach Jordan Johnson said. "We have a chance to do well."
Northridge had three players receive all-league honors. Senior defender Michael Travis was named first-team all-league, sophomore midfielder Robi Patrick was named to the second team and sophomore goalkeeper Skyler Pritts was named honorable mention.
Volleyball team preps for district
The Northridge girls volleyball team was 4-16 overall and 3-15 in the LCL after defeating Licking Heights 24-26, 25-20, 25-19, 25-23 on Oct. 10.
The Vikings are seeded 22nd in the Division III district tournament and have a first-round bye.
They open the postseason Saturday, Oct. 19, at top-seeded Sparta Highland or at home against 23rd-seeded Mount Gilead in the second round. The winner plays 10th-seeded Utica, 15th-seeded Liberty Union or 20th-seeded North Union in a district semifinal Oct. 24 at Olentangy.
On Oct. 7, the Vikings lost to Utica 25-16, 25-17, 25-17. Hatfield had four kills and two aces and Pribonic, Savannah Legg and sophomore hitter Jamie Swickard all had four kills.
Junior setter Hunter Adkins had two aces and Miller had 27 assists.
Pribonic had four kills and Swickard had three in a 25-15, 25-11, 25-14 loss to Licking Valley on Oct. 8. Adkins had two aces.
On Oct. 9, the Vikings lost to East Knox 23-25, 25-17, 25-20, 26-24 in a non-league match. Pribonic had 13 kills, Miller had 11 kills and Hatfield had six kills. Adkins had 31 assists.
Runners prepare for district meet
The boys and girls cross country teams compete in the Division II district meet Saturday, Oct. 19, at Watkins Memorial.
The top four teams and top 16 runners advance to regional Oct. 26 at Troy.
On Oct. 12, Northridge competed in the LCL meet at Watkins Memorial.
Sophomore Colin Evans finished 18th (20 minutes, 3.48 seconds) in the Johns-town Invitational on Oct. 5 at Infirmary Mound Park. Freshman James Peek was 65th (23:05.53).
Senior Kaitlin Garee (48th, 27:55.87) was the lone runner for the girls.