Chief concernsPublished 5:09pm Saturday, August 25, 2012
Northview head football coach Sid Wheatley hasn’t forgotten the end of last season. In the semifinals of the state playoffs, the Chiefs led their opponent, Chipley, for almost the entire game before a costly fumble proved to shut the door on their hopes of winning the state championship. However, Wheatley is hoping it will be motivation for the returning starters on this year’s team.
“Chipley had a good football team, but it’s gotta’ be motivation I would think because you play a 48-minute game and you lead for 46 minutes of the 48 and just fall a little short. Boy, those are hard to get over and they kind of eat at you,” Wheatley said. “I know they did for myself. So, you obviously want to get back to that spot and have a chance at redemption. So, we would love to be in that spot again.”
Their efforts to do so will begin in earnest at home against Bay. Despite the game officially being a jamboree, Wheatley said the team doesn’t view this as just another friendly scrimmage.
“We’re actually going to play it like a game, a classic game with Bay High School,” Wheatley said. “Our reserve guys will play the first quarter and then for the most part, the last three quarters will be varsity and it will be most of our starters going for three quarters in a game format.”
While Northview has had a solid offseason of workouts, Wheatley said he’s still looking to see more out of his team.
“Some things I’m looking for [are] just kind of our sense of urgency and the pace at which we’re playing,” Wheatley said. “We just need to get the intensity up a little bit.”
After the team’s jamboree, they’ll play a week later, again at home, against John Paul Catholic for the official season opener. Wheatley doesn’t have a lot of knowledge of John Paul Catholic, except that they field a younger squad this season. As Wheatley understood it, John Paul Catholic played a split schedule with their JV and Varsity last season. John Paul Catholic is located in Tallahassee and is coached by Scott Houston. Houston is in his first year at John Paul Catholic, but he has over twenty years of overall coaching experience.
Wheatley said having such a supportive home crowd will be a big advantage for his team.
“Man, it’s big for us. I’ll tell you what, our home, the environment here has really come a long way over the past couple years. The playoff game this past year, the semifinal game against Chipley, it was about as electric as I’ve ever seen it,” Wheatley said. “So, the people in the community really, really support us. They travel well on the road too, so they are big supporters and it means a lot to our kids.”
The Chiefs strong suit this season should be their running game. Besides having a strong offensive line that includes La’Derrious Franklin and Blake McCall, the team has two battle-tested running backs. Seniors Roderick Woods and La’Mikal Kyles complement each other well. Woods is a big, bruising style of back, while Kyles is a threat to score a touchdown every time he touches the ball. Wheatley admits they will lean heavily on the running game early on.
“First and foremost, we need to establish our run game to kind of set up what we’d like to do through the air. So, I would say that, at this point, we will be a run-oriented team to begin with and hopefully, as things progress, we’re going to be able to throw the ball,” Wheatley said. “I feel like Kevin’s [Vaughn] got a good head on his shoulders and we’re going to be able to do some things through the air eventually.”
Northview will play Bay on August 24 at 7 p.m. at home. Northview will play their first official game against John Paul Catholic on August 31 at 7 p.m. at home.