Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

October 4, 2013

Week 7 football previews

Kats host Berries; Panthers visit Comets.

By BRYAN GASKINS and JOSH SIGLER Kokomo Tribune
Kokomo Tribune

---- — Northwestern’s football team enjoyed a 3-0 start, but has hit a bump in the road in recent weeks, losing two of its last three.

The Purple Tigers need a quick recovery. Class 3A No. 4-ranked Hamilton Heights visits tonight.

Heights, which was the Class 3A state runner-up last year, is enjoying another big season. The Huskies are 5-1 overall and they lead the Mid-Indiana Conference with a 4-0 record. They own a 12-game league winning streak.

“This is the best team on our schedule,” Northwestern coach John Hendryx said. “Coming into this after the game we felt we let get away last week [a 23-20 loss to Maconaquah], it’s been a pretty easy focus week. Our kids have had a good attitude.”

Hendryx points to a sharper effort as a must for his squad.

“We just haven’t been good at finishing. We haven’t finished a couple games. We don’t finish drives — we move the ball up and down the field and then find a way to make a mistake when it’s scoring time. That’s been a concern,” he said. “We had a great week of practice up until [Thursday]. We laid an egg, which is another concern.”

The Huskies feature an explosive attack. They average 43 points per game. Running back Conner Faulkner and receiver Grant Weatherford are their top playmakers. Weatherford is also a weapon on special teams. He had a pair of touchdowns on punt returns against Taylor last week.

“They don’t really have any weaknesses,” Hendryx said. “They are a very good running team, a very good throwing team and they’re very sound, very solid and physical defensively. When you have Weatherford on your special teams, you have solid special teams because no one wants to kick him the ball. They always have good field position.

“My biggest concern coming into this game ... we have given up 75 yards of passing in six games. I don’t look at that as a positive. We just haven’t played people who could throw the ball very well. To do that through six weeks, then have to [play Heights], we have no idea how our secondary is going to react. I think we have good kids back there and I think they’ve played well, but they haven’t been tested.”

Heights beat Northwestern 57-21 last year. Hendryx is 2-4 against the Huskies.

Logansport (2-4, 2-2 NCC) at Kokomo (2-4, 1-2 NCC)

The Kats welcome the Berries to Walter Cross Field for senior night, a fact that is sure to only intensify the rivalry matchup.

“One thing I know for sure against Logan is they’re going to come and play as physical as anyone we’ve played,” Colby said. “No matter who the coach has been since I’ve been here, Logansport is one of the most physical, hard-hitting games we play. It’s how we respond to that physicality that’s going to go a long way to determining the outcome of the game.”

Logansport is led by junior quarterback Ryan Shrock, who has rushed for 308 yards and nine TDs this season while completing 12 of 46 passes for 121 yards, two TDs and four interceptions.

“They run a tough offense to defend in the option,” Colby said. “You better have your responsibilities down. They don’t run a ton of plays, maybe six to eight, but they have 20 formations that they run those plays out of. So, we have to know our job and responsibility on every formation. We need to read our keys, and we had a good week with that. Hopefully we can slow their quarterback down. He’s not big — he wrestled 132 [pounds] last year, but is very fast and runs the option well.”

Logan leading rusher Jacob Shelton (582 yards, 10 TDs) will miss the game with a leg injury.

Western (5-1, 3-1 MIC) at Eastern (1-5, 0-4 MIC)

The Panthers will look to keep their MIC title hopes alive when they visit the Comets.

The Panthers are 3-1 in the MIC, one game back of leader Hamilton Heights. The Panthers visit the Huskies next week.

Western has dominated the series with Eastern in recent years, winning 13 of the last 14 meetings. Western was a 57-21 winner last year.

Cass (3-3, 2-2 MIC) at Taylor (0-6, 0-4 MIC)

Cass has ripped off a pair of wins to even its overall and MIC records. The Kings erupted for a combined 107 points against Peru and Eastern.

Taylor, meanwhile, is mired in a 22-game losing streak.

The Cass-Taylor series is one-sided with the Kings having won the last 15 meetings.

Peru (4-2, 2-2 MIC) at Mac (4-2, 3-1 MIC)

Maconaquah returns home after scoring big road wins over Western and Northwestern the last two weeks. At 3-1 in the MIC, the Braves are tied with Western for second in the league, one game behind Hamilton Heights.

Peru has dropped two in a row following a 4-0 start.

The Braves beat the Bengal Tigers 34-32 last year for their second straight win in the series.

Around the area

In the Hoosier Heartland Conference, Carroll (3-3, 1-2) visits Clinton Central (0-6, 0-2).

In non-conference games, Tipton (3-3) hosts Class A No. 8-ranked Sheridan (4-2), and Tri-Central (5-1) hosts Anderson Prep Academy (2-4).

Tonight's games 7 p.m. kickoffs unless otherwise noted • Ham. Heights at Northwestern • Logansport at Kokomo • Western at Eastern • Cass at Taylor • Peru at Maconaquah • Anderson Prep at Tri-Central • Carroll at Clinton Central • Sheridan at Tipton RELATED ITEM Area standings and statistics. B3