High School Football
Vikings face Mundy's Mill with playoff berth on line
by Doug Gorman
The scenario for this year's Region 4-AAAAA play-in game between Northgate and Mundy's Mill might seem a little like a rerun of last year's contest between the Vikings and Tigers.
A year ago, Northgate traveled to Twelve Oaks Stadium in Hampton and beat Mundy's Mill 15-3 to advance to the postseason. The loser will be counting the days until spring practice starts.
The two teams follow the same script Friday with the winner moving on the first-round of the Class AAAAA playoffs in the second meeting at Twelve Oaks Stadium in as many seasons.
The Tigers have won five games in a row to stay undefeated in subregion action and haven't lost a game since falling 28-27 to McIntosh back in September.
Mundy's Mill waltzed through Region 4A-AAAAA outscoring opponents 183-49.
A victory by Northgate seeds the Vikings to the playoffs for third straight season.
'We are where we want to be,' said Northgate head coach Tommy Walburn. 'There are a lot of teams who are playing this weekend and then will be done until next year. We are playing for something.'
Northgate (4-5, 2-3 in Region 4B-AAAAA) and Mundy's Mill (5-4, 5-0 in 4A-AAAAA)faced a common opponent in Union Grove this season and both came up with close wins over the Wolverines.
James Skalski kicked the gamewinning field goal for Northgate as time expired to give the Vikings the 17-14 victory over Wolverines, while the Tigers rallied to beat Union Grove in their close battle.
Since that dramatic win over Union Grove, Northgate has gone 1-3, only beating Starr's Mill 17-14.
Northgate, however, has a chance to make the playoffs for the third straight year.
'This is the fourth year in a row where we have been playing for something the last week of the regular season,' he said. 'That is all you can ask for.'
The Vikings hopes to advance to the postseason were helped when Whitewater beat Starr's Mill 38-35 last week.
Northgate enters the game trying to shake off last week's 37-14 loss to McIntosh.
The Vikings committed nearly 170 yards in penalties, including several costly personal fouls against the Chiefs.
'I look at last week's game as a complete debacle, Walburn said. 'We have to come out this week and do things a whole lot better, and I think we will.'
Walburn admits the Vikings' coaching staff has let his team know they were not happy with the undisciplined penalties at McIntosh.
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'We have good boys, and some of the things that happened just aren't us,' Walburn said.
Northgate has quickly put last week's problems against the Chiefs behind it, and is focused on beating the Tigers for the second straight year.
'Mundy's Mill is a better football team than they were last year,' Walburn said.
Northgate heads into the final game of the regular season again relying on two of its top linebackers. Skalski had 14 tackles and Ryan Fagerstrom had 13 in the loss to McIntosh.
The duo will head up a defensive unit that will key on trying to stop running back Rodney Smith, who rushed for 1,500 yards last year.
'He tore his knee up last year the week before we played them,' Walburn said. 'He is a difference maker. There whole team is improved. You can tell they have been in the weight room.'
The Vikings will try to keep Smith and the Tigers' offense off the field by controlling the football with long drives to eat the clock.
A trio of running backs has helped pick up yardage out of the wing-t for Northgate. Benton Washington leads the way with 777 yards on 121 carries, including nine touchdowns. T,J. Womack had been almost as busy as Washington, carrying the ball 116 times for 684 yards and four touchdowns.
Kevin Teasley has rushed for 462 yards on 84 carries and a touchdown.
Northgate has also shown the ability to throw the football more this year.
After Tyler Rowland and Bo Zachary split time at quarterback early in the year, Rowland became the team's primary signal caller.
He found one of his favorite targets in Womack catching the ball out of the backfield. Womack comes into Friday's contest leading the team with eight catches and a touchdown.
A week ago, Zachary showed he had found his spot at wide receiver, hauling in two catches, including one for a 35-yard touchdown.
Rowland had one of his more productive games this year, going 6 of 11 for 101 yards, a touchdown and an interception.
'We threw more last week and that was by design,' Walburn said. 'We had trouble with our gun snaps, but if you look at the stats early, it looks like we are still in the game.'
Walburn knows the game plan is clear if his team hopes to extend its consecutive trips to the playoffs.
'(Last week) we didn't play up to our capabilities on offense, defense and special teams,' he said. 'That is really the only thing you can control. I don't care if you are playing the Green Bay Packers, you have to play up to you capabilities.'
Walburn admits the team is upbeat heading to the game to decide the Vikings' fate.
'We are hoping we play well, find away to win and make the playoffs,' he said.
Of the four play-in games in 4-AAAAA, the B-subregion looks to have an edge having posted a 12-1 record against the six schools on the other side of the region. Creekside hosts Ola with the unbeaten and state-ranked Seminoles looking to wrap up the region title and a No. 1 seed.
Two other games - Drew at McIntosh and Whitewater at Union Grove - are rematches from crossovers on Sept. 20, both won by the schools from Fayette.