Northwest Guilford football is coming off a bye week as it prepares to close out the non-conference part of its season Friday at home against undefeated Ronald Reagan, then gear up for its all-important conference schedule.
Since their 2-0 start, the Vikings have lost three straight games. They used the week off to work on fixes and heal injuries.
"We need to focus," Coach Kevin Wallace said. "If you finish No. 1 or 2 in the conference you're almost guaranteed a home playoff game."
Grimsley, at 6-0, is the only Metro 4A Conference team with a winning record so far.
Wallace attributes part of his team's challenges to youth and inexperience - he has only five seniors and just two of them see much action, he said.
So, lots of young players have been tapped to fill vacant slots. While that's a concern this season, it may well pay dividends in years to come, Wallace noted.
"As we go forward we'll have a lot of players who've played a lot," he said.
Opponents have been taking advantage of his players' inexperience and fatigue that takes its toll later in the game, he added.
The Vikings were up at the half against both Southwest Guilford and Southeast Guilford and were down by only three points going into the final quarter against Southeast. Both opponents pulled away for double-digit wins.
"It is close games we've got to learn to finish," Wallace said. "We've got to learn to fight through."
He reckons that when his guys begin putting together four good quarters each week the wins will come.
"It's one game at a time," he said.
And that game this week is against Reagan, which stands at 5-0 this season.
They're well-coached, Wallace said, with a solid line, talented quarterback and a running back with blazing speed.
"They're a solid team without a doubt. We need to make sure we do everything right to give us the best chance in this game," he said. "We can't let Northwest beat Northwest."
Conference play starts Oct. 11 against Page (1-5).
want to go?
Northwest will play a homecoming game against Reagan this Friday, 7:30 p.m. in the R.L. Billings Stadium off Northwest School Road. The homecoming court will be presented at halftime.
Northern Guilford football has been on a roll since starting the season with a loss to perhaps the area’s best team Since bowing to undefeated Grimsley, the Nighthawks (4-1, 1-0) have won four straight games, a couple of those by wide margins. Last Friday they spanked 2A/3A Mid State conference foe McMichael 49-0 in a game that was never in doubt.
Still, Coach Erik Westberg figures his team needs a good performance to get past Friday's foe: Northeast Guilford (3-2, 0-1).
"They're a very good football team," he said. "They've got a bunch of athletes that can beat you. They're a scrappy football team. It's going to be a tough game for us."
Since a season opening loss to Eastern Guilford (3-3), Northeast has defeated Smith (1-5), Southern Guilford (3-2) and Ragsdale (2-4) in overtime. Last Friday they dropped a 42-28 decision at undefeated Eastern Alamance, also a conference rival.
In preparing to go on the road against the Rams, Westberg has worked on strengthening what's working for his team and not messing with its chemistry.
"We're playing some good football the past few weeks," he said. "I'm proud of our guys."
Against McMichael (0-5, 0-1), the Nighthawks started in high gear and never looked back. They finished the first quarter up 29-0 and were up 42-0 at the half.
"We did what we needed to do. Kept them off the scoreboard," Westberg said. "It was a good team win."
Nighthawk starters sat out virtually the entire second half, turning the game mover to less experienced players on the team.
"We got a lot of people in the football game, which was really big for our program," Westberg said. They got good game experience, he said.
Quarterback Will Lenard, a junior, completed 11 of 13 passes for 199 yards and four touchdowns. Linebacker Tyler Anderson, a senior, led the team with 10 tackles.
want to go?
Northern will travel to Northeast Guilford in McLeansville this Friday. Kickoff is at 7:30 p.m.