Prep Football: Northgate settling into grooveBy DOUG GORMAN
After a tough four weeks both on and off the field, Northgate head coach Tommy Walburn continues to keep a positive outlook when it comes to his team’s chances for adding another potential region football title this year.
Even after four games, the Vikings still haven’t played their first game in subregion 4B-AAAAA. That won’t come until Oct. 5.
The Vikings expect to be even closer to full strength this week when running Benton Washington will make his debut after suffering a broken arm in preseason practice.
Washington was expected to be one of the Vikings’ three starting backs in their wing-T offense this season before suffering the injury when linebacker Connor Usher’s helmet made contact with his arm in the preseason.
Washington’s return gives Northgate even more options for an offense that has now scored 66 points in the last two weeks, beating both North Clayton (29-8) and Ola (37-15).
“It’s like I told the kids,” Walburn said. “It was perfect, because we have to get in position to defend our region title, and we are not there yet. We are still a work in progress.”
In the win over Ola, five Northgate players had carries during the victory which was well in hand by halftime, ahead 30-9.
Northgate’s strong running game also opened up the passing game for Vikings as Josh Harrison had a stellar night passing for nearly 130 yards. At one stretch of the game, Harrison, who rolled out before completing several of his passes, completed six in a row.
It helped that he has Brandon Facyson as one of his favorite targets. Facyson went up and caught just about anything that was thrown in his direction Friday night, hauling in three catches at one stretch of 30 yards or more.
The Vikings reached into their bag of gadget plays as T.J.Womack threw a halfback pass to Facyson for a touchdown.
Northgate is also getting plenty of help from the defense. Sean Spencer’s return of a fumble recover for a touchdown helped the Vikings extend their lead to 23-0 in the first half.
The Vikings victory comes during a week where they were distracted after the death of trainer Dale Krach, but Walburn sees focusing on football helped the team get ready for the Friday’s trip to Ola and the stretch drive of the season.
“I think our kids handled it really well,” Walburn said. “It’s a sad deal, but we told them he was here in spirit.”
Northgate faces a Union Grove team that lost for the first time Friday when it was shutout by Whitewater 39-0.
The Wolverines had won their first two games of the season against Locust Grove (25-21) and Woodland (22-14).
It will be the second meeting between the two schools, with the Vikings holding a 2-0 edge.