Vikings put ball in Rowland’s hands looking for first victory

by Doug Gorman

alt

Northgate junior Tyler Rowland will get the start at quarterback for this Friday’s home game against North Clayton in a battle between a pair of 0-2 lineups. 


After playing two quarterbacks to begin the season, the Northgate Vikings have settled in on a starter.

Junior Tyler Rowland will line up under center starting Friday at home against North Clayton.

In its first two games, a 14-7 loss to Heritage-Conyers, and a 35-0 loss to Griffin last week, Rowland shared the quarterback duties with junior Bo Zachary.

The quarterback battle began when Zachary transferred into Northgate from Valdosta High School in time for spring practice.

Rowland entered as the more experienced quarterback in terms of running the Vikings’ wing-t offense after serving as Josh Harrison’s backup last season.

Zachary was coming from Valdosta’s spread offense.

“Bo didn’t do anything wrong, but it’s a lot different coming from a spread offense, and we feel like if we are going to get better, we just have to have one quarterback,” Walburn said.

Walburn compared Rowland to Brett Mitsuka, the Vikings’ starting quarterback two years ago when they won the Region 3-AAAA title and finished the regular season 10-0.

“Tyler is a student of the game,” said Walburn. “He has been with us since he has been a freshman, I feel like letting him get more reps in practice and having one man taking the bulk of the snaps is only going to help us get better."

Northgate fans won’t see Zachary pouting on the bench.

“He handled it very well, Northgate head coach Tommy Walburn said. “He is grateful for the chance. He won’t sit on the bench. He can play wide receiver, return kicks and on defense in the secondary.”

The Vikings are still trying to get their offense to become a little more explosive this week against the Eagles.

Through two games, Northgate is only averaging 288 yards per game. Their passing game has only picked up 34 yards through the two contest with Rowland completing all four of the team’s passes.

Northgate has shown its ability to put the ball in the hands of several ball carriers led by senior Benton Washington, who has 98 yards over two games as well as the Vikings lone touchdown this year when he found the end zone against Heritage in the season opener.

Freshman running back Ton Evans is also beginning to gain touches in his first varsity season. The ninth grader, who starred at Madras last year, led Northgate’s final drive against Griffin, one that was eventually stopped at the goalline. He 75 yards on just five carries, nearly all of them coming against the Bears.

Senior fullback T.J. Womack is also among the team’s leading rushers with 61 yards.

North Clayton is also trying to find a way to generate offense having been outscored 82-7 in the first two games.

“Their motivation is they are playing a team that is 0-2 too,” Walburn said. “They are looking at us and saying we got shutout by Griffin. They have some good athletes, they have a new coach and their numbers are a little down this year, but the 11 they put on the field are good football player, but my main concern is Northgate. If we don’t get better, it doesn’t matter who we play.”

North Clayton could find moving the football a difficult again this week. Despite giving up 35-points to the Bears, Northgate’s defense has been flying to the ball.

Linebackers James Skalski and Ryan Fagerstrom led the team in tackles last week, and Skalski had an interception that he returned deep into Griffin territory.

Senior safety Torres Johnson had 10 tackles.

The Northgate coaching staff shuffled around some of its personnel this week, and there could be more changes as the team gets into the heart of the season.

“We spent a lot of time up here last weekend trying to figure out what we need to do,” he said. “I told the coaches, we have to look at our personnel and find out what each person can do.”

Despite the slow start, Walburn is pleased with the way his team is working to get better.

“I am going into my fourth year as head coach here at Northgate, and I don’t think we have had a bad practice,” Walburn said. “All the goals we set for the team are still ahead of us. That is the attitude we need heading into the rest of the season. We want to be 1-0 each week.”






More Sports

College Golf

Trevor Smith, Coastal Georgia win second straight national golf title

Newnan graduate Trevor Smith helped lead Coastal Georgia to its second straight NAIA National Men's Golf Championship at the Hills Course in ... Read More


College Softball

Coweta standouts contributing in NCAA Tournament

Former Northgate softball standout Ansley Smith and her Kentucky teammates face must-win situations today against Southeastern Conference ri ... Read More


Former Lady Viking standouts have Shorter on verge of national relay title

Northgate High graduates and current Shorter University track and field standouts Ashley Ballard and Kemor Anderson are on the verge of brin ... Read More


Herrington tabbed to take over Northgate baseball program

Northgate athletic director Dr. Eric Fiske knew he might have some sleepless nights before finally deciding on the right candidate to take o ... Read More


Local Racing

Armisteads double up on wins at Senoia

The father and son racing team of Joe Armistead, Jr. and Joey Armistead doubled on victories on Saturday as the second and third generation ... Read More

Despite Brewers struggles, Smith still ‘getting jiggy with it’ on mound

When it came to talking about the 2014 Major League Baseball season last November, it was hard to blame Will Smith for not exactly being in ... Read More