North Knox’s football team wants to put a two-game losing streak behind, and a win at North Daviess tonight gives the Warriors their first outright Southwest Conference title.
But with three starters questionable with injuries, how important is it for North Knox (4-3, 2-0 Southwest) to put its best lineup on the field against the Class A honorable mention Cougars (5-2, 2-0) for the 7 p.m. kickoff?
The biggest name on the injured list is senior running back Cole Richter, the area’s leading rusher, who suffered a shoulder injury last Friday in North Knox’s 28-13 loss to Class 2A No. 6 Linton. Senior linebacker Matt Urbain, the team’s third leading tackler with 36, and senior defensive back Levi Brocksmith are also iffy at best.
Warriors coach Josh Chambers said a win is important, but not everything.
“We’re as beat up as we’ve been all year, but we’re going to be OK,” Chambers said. “All three are game-time decisions, but I don’t want to necessarily over-do it with them if they do play. We have young kids who are capable of filling in. What we need to get is healthy by the sectional.
“We need a win to validate what we think we are, which is a pretty good football team. We feel we have as much of a chance as anybody to win the sectional, so we can’t take a misstep,” he said. “We’d like to win the conference and all that, but at the end of the day we need to win the ballgame for us.”
The balancing act has added intrigue with an all-day rain forecasted for today. Chambers said he would like to stay dry on the
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sidelines, but doesn’t mind precipitation for the players.
“It’s going to be cold and wet, which probably plays in our favor with our style of football,” Chambers said. “We have a lot of size, and we move people well up front. I know our big guys are OK with it. They’re tired of sweating.”
Richter, who sat out more than the final three quarters last Friday with his injury, has 764 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. If he can’t go tonight, sophomore Rhett Sheren fills in. He’s at 275 yards and four scores.
Junior quarterback Reece Hammelman took on more of the offense a week ago, rushing for a season-best 48 yards and a score. He has thrown for 687 yards and eight TDs, completing 45-of-87 passes. Sophomore Holtman Doades has rushed for 366 yards and four TDs and caught 14 passes for 207 yards and three scores.
The offense has been bogged down the last two weeks, scoring a combined three touchdowns. Penalties have become a big culprit. North Knox has been flagged at least 10 times in four of the last five games.
“Avoiding penalties have been a big focus this week. We have to be better there. We’re getting holding penalties, where we’re not moving our feet well enough. We jumped offsides three times last week. That’s just mental and unacceptable,” Chambers said. “We need to get it to where we have five or less a game. We have to make sure penalties aren’t killing our drives.”
A somewhat clean game is needed for North Knox against a much-improved North Daviess team. The Cougars were 2-8 a year ago, with the Warriors pounding them, 58-13. But they opened this season with four consecutive wins and have been in the Class A poll most of the season. Their defense is only giving up 9.3 points per game.
“Coach (Trent) Fine is in his second year there. They changed from the Pro-I to a Spread offense and I’m sure their players are a lot more comfortable in that system now. They like to get on the edge running and they throw it well,” Chambers said. “Their defense is a lot better, and they have more older kids than they did a year ago. Coach Fine has done a good job getting them ready to play.”
North Daviess took a beating at Linton two weeks ago, trailing 41-0 in the second quarter in a 48-14 defeat. None of the other six opponents scored in double figures.
Last Friday’s results
Linton 28, North Knox 13
North Daviess 72, Rock Creek 0
North Decatur 34, Eastern Greene 0
Riverton Parke 44, North Central 27
North Knox at North Daviess
Attica at North Central
Linton at Eastern Greene