Changes have been commonplace for the injury-plagued Northridge High School football team.
Jacob Burke, a running back and linebacker, suffered a season-ending knee injury in a 55-8 loss to Licking Valley on Sept. 20. While that might have been the Vikings' biggest loss, injuries to other linebackers such as senior Chad Williamson, junior Brennan Angus and freshman Gage Linkous forced Northridge to adapt.
"We had to change our whole defensive look because we didn't have enough linebackers," said coach Darby Riley, whose team was 2-7 overall and 0-3 in the LCL-Small School Division before playing Heath in the season finale Nov. 1. "It's frustrating to go away from your philosophy, but we had no choice. We have been changing on the fly."
Riley said Burke had knee surgery Oct. 28 and likely will miss wrestling season.
Despite the injury, Burke was able to take the field for one play Oct. 25 in the final home game of his senior season, a 52-18 loss to Utica.
"It meant a lot to Jacob to get in for that one play against Utica," Riley said. "On (Oct. 27), we had a senior tackle for him at practice so he could have one more hit as a high school player along (with fellow seniors) Eric Dills and Tim Gearry."
Burke was the primary focus of the Vikings' running attack, but junior quarterback Bryant Garee and junior wide receiver/running back Chase Hess have picked up the slack on offense.
In a 42-35 loss to Lakewood on Oct. 11, Garee completed 32 of 49 passes for a school-record 334 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. Hess caught 12 passes for 151 yards.
"Bryant Garee and Chase Hess took control when Jacob Burke went down," Riley said. "They really stepped up for us when we needed them."
Against Utica, Garee threw a 19-yard touchdown pass to senior wide receiver Tanner Williamson. Hess had a 1-yard touchdown run and Dills, a running back, had a 12-yard rushing score.
Volleyball team loses three seniors
The girls volleyball team finished 4-16 overall after losing at top-seeded Sparta Highland 25-10, 25-7, 25-21 on Oct. 19 in the second round of the Division III district tournament.
The 22nd-seeded Vikings, who had a first-round bye in the postseason, finished ninth (3-15) in the LCL, behind Licking Valley (16-2), Newark Catholic (15-3), Granville (14-4), Heath (12-6), Lakewood (12-6), Utica (8-10), Licking Heights (5-13) and Watkins Memorial (5-13) and ahead of Johnstown-Monroe (0-18).
Senior hitter Sara Pribonic (147 kills, 891 digs) was second-team all-district and all-league, and junior setter Faith Miller (292 assists) was honorable mention all-district and all-league.
Pribonic led a senior class that also included hitter Addison Anderson and libero Courtney Legg.
"Addison did an outstanding job blocking and had several key plays through the year," said coach John Smith, who completed his second season. "Courtney Legg only played volleyball two of her four years of high school, but her natural athletic ability allowed her to adapt to a new position.
"Sara Pribonic was a third-year starter and our Most Valuable Player. She led the team in many statistics and also was a valuable leader."
Expected to return are juniors Hunter Adkins (setter/def-ensive specialist), Sarah George (middle hitter), Megan Hatfield (outside hitter; 104 kills) and Faith Miller (setter) and sophomores Savannah Legg (middle hitter; 114 kills, 36 aces) and Jamie Swickard (outside hitter).
"We will return six people and all were a part of the starting rotation in Sarah George, Savannah Legg, Megan Hatfield, Faith Miller, Hunter Adkins and Jamie Swickard," Smith said. "They will return next year as key members of the 2014 team, and we plan to build on this match experience."