Chiefs opens season Friday on the road

Published 8:19 am Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Fans of the Northview High School Chiefs will finally get a chance to watch their team in action Friday night during their first game of the year. Although it is a road game, Friday’s contest with Marianna marks the official beginning of NHS’ season a full two weeks after Alabama schools began action and a week after Florida, due to a bye week for the Chiefs on Sept. 2.

NHS has gotten some game-style reps in already this season with a 26-17 jamboree win over the Bay High School Tornadoes but this week’s battle with Marianna will be the first game to have a bearing on the official record for the 2011 season.

As the Chiefs prepare for their up-coming opener head coach Sid Wheatley said he feels good about the progress his team has made during the off-season.

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“I think the guys have been working hard,” Wheatley said. “We were pleased with our effort against Bay. They are a 5A school and very challenging and they had some really good looking athletes and some guys that could play.”

As the Chiefs look to Marianna they will face a 4A school with plenty of talent of their own.

“I know that Marianna is going to be a real challenge for us,” Wheatley said. “They’ve got some exceptional quickness with their skill guys. They put up 44 points on Friday night. They scored 20 in one half against West Florida Tech so our defense is definitely going to be challenged.”

Opening up season play with a team like Marianna, the Chiefs will test out their new 3-3 stack defense against a worthy offensive opponent.

“We’re going to stay within our base system,” Wheatley said. “But we will have some new looks as far as what we do within that system. They’ve got a double-wing type set with a tight end to one side and a split to the other, so we feel good about our preparation and what we think they like to do.”

Wheatley said the Chiefs, who have changed defensive schemes in 2011 from a 5-2 base, feel they are prepared to play in a league with more and more spread offenses.

“We feel like we’ve got some quickness out on the field at some of our linebacker spots,” he said. “And then we’ve got two positions that are kind of hybrid linebacker-defensive back type spots, so that’s one thing I felt like would help us, and the fact that you see so many spread teams these days that are going to challenge you with at least four receivers on the field at any time.”

Offensively Wheatley said the Chiefs would continue to play to their strong points against Marianna. He added while the passing game will play a factor NHS will rely heavily on the rushing attack.

“It’s going to be primarily set up through the run,” he said. “We’re always going to try and establish the run game and work hard at that, but we feel like we have a quarterback who can throw the football and some guys that can make some plays down the field. If we’re able to do that, we’ll do it.”

The Chiefs will begin the 2011 season with a myriad of returning starters including seven on offense and five on defense, which should play a large role in their up-coming road battle.

Following the opener against Marianna NHS will return to the road Friday, Sept. 16 versus Chipley before playing their home opener Sept. 23 against South Walton.