North Knox’s football team had a big game last week, and it has another one at 7 p.m. today when Class 2A No. 6 Linton comes to Bicknell.
The Warriors (4-2) remained honorable mention in the Class 2A poll, but suffered a 12-6 setback to county rival Lincoln last Friday. It was a rare occurrence that North Knox came into the game as the favorite, but the Alices ended their four-game losing streak while snapping the Warriors’ four-game winning streak.
Momentum is no longer on North Knox’s side, but a victory over the Miners (5-1) would change that. That’s much easier said than done. Linton has won the last 14 meetings in the series, going back to 2009, with the closest margin of victory being 20 points.
The Warriors, who have lost their two games this season by a combined nine points, look to be in position, talent-wise, to hang with Linton. But North Knox has had good teams on occasion in the past, only to be steamrolled by the Miners.
“Some of it is mental with Linton, but they have had a lot of talent is this past decade too. They have been on a spectacular run where they’ve been (the 2016 Class A state champions) and one of the top four teams in the state a lot,” North Knox coach Josh Chambers said.
“But I don’t worry about all that stuff. Every year is a new crop of kids. If we execute, and we have all year, I expect it to be a tough ballgame.”
Despite last week’s loss, North Knox’s defense continued to stay stout. The 7.8 points per game allowed is second-best in Class 2A in the state. They go against a Linton offense tonight that has rarely had trouble scoring. The Miners have won their last five games, and had a 48-0 second-quarter lead on North Daviess last Friday in a 48-14 win. They average 34 points per game.
“Linton has a nice mix of run and pass. Their double-wing is a nice offense, a unique offense that you have to prepare for,” Chambers said. “It’s one of those games, like Sullivan, Boonville, Vincennes, where you just have to defend it, and I like how we’re playing defense.
“We were ready to play last week against Vincennes. They just manufactured six more points than we did. The boys have handled it and have been workmanlike in practice this week.”
Last week notwithstanding, North Knox has been prolific offensively. Senior tailback Cole Richter leads the area with 741 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. Junior quarterback Reece Hammelman has thrown for 520 yards and seven touchdowns, and senior tight end Troy Noland has 195 yards receiving and a pair of scores. Sophomore Holtman Doades has run for 346 yards and five TDs and 149 yards in receptions with two scores.
Noland continues to lead the team in tackles with 51, with sophomore brother Beau Noland next at 44 and senior Matt Urbain at 35.
Linton can throw up numbers too. Senior Lance Dyer has rushed for 513 yards and five TDs, and classmate Luke Lannan is nearby with 466 rushing and four scores. Junior Trey Goodman has thrown for 848 yards and 11 touchdowns. Senior Drew Robertson had 381 yards receiving and four TDs.
The Warriors had a season-long problem crop up last Friday — penalties. North Knox was flagged a season-high 15 times for 143 yards, the third time in the last four games that the Warriors have had at least 10 penalties.
Lincoln had 10 penalties too, so the officiating may have been part of the problem. But Chambers noted that his team needs to clean it up.
“Last week was kind of an anomaly, but the penalties have been addressed. Some of them are just physical penalties, some are dumb penalties and we’ve had holding issues at times. I’m not going to dwell on it, but as we get closer to tournament time, it needs to be better,” Chambers said.
“If we’re going to hold and constantly be in second-and-long, we’re going to be in trouble. I have nothing in our playbook for second-and-30.”
Both teams played Boonville and Sullivan this year with mixed results. North Knox stopped the Pioneers, 34-20, in week four, while Linton took out Boonville, 27-16, the week after. But the Golden Arrows edged the Warriors in the opener, 15-12, while the Miners popped Sullivan the following week, 35-12.
North Daviess 2-0 4-2
North Knox 2-0 4-2
North Central 0-2 1-5
Eastern Greene 0-2 0-6
Last Friday’s results
Lincoln 12, North Knox 6
Linton 48, North Daviess 14
Perry Central 35, Eastern Greene 8
West Washington 50, North Central 0
Linton at North Knox
North Decatur at Eastern Greene
Riverton Parke at North Central
Rock Creek at North Daviess