PDT Sports Editor
As Friday night approaches, the Notre Dame Titans will put their unbeaten record on the line as they travel to McDermott to take on the Northwest Mohawks.
Northwest has started the season at a 2-1 mark, which is the best start to a season for the Mohawks since 2010. Northwest coach Brooks Fry attributed the team’s early success to the guys in the locker room.
“Our kids are really buying into the program this year,” Fry said. “We changed some things scheme wise but most importantly, we have good chemistry. We have good young kids stepping up. We have older guys taking the younger guys under their wing. We just have good chemistry.”
Fry admitted the team changed its philosophy this season to maximize its personnel.
“In the past, we were searching week to week for something to hang our hat on,” Fry said. “We have now settled in on our style.”
That “style” has become obvious through the Mohawks first three games.
Northwest played a tough road contest against Southeastern in week one. Even though the Mohawks lost 19-17, according to Fry, Northwest ran twice as many plays while doubling the time of possession against the Panthers.
Last week against Huntington, Fry said the Mohawks ran 56 plays for 309 yards to the Huntsmen’s 20 yards on 30 plays. In the first three weeks, Northwest has rushed for 930 yards.
“Most teams that we play have kids playing both ways,” Fry said. “They might not be quite as fresh after playing on defense for a long period of time. Everyone says a good defense can carry a team. I believe a good offense can help a defense, instead of the defense helping the offense.”
Northwest’s offense might look familiar Friday night when Notre Dame, 3-0, takes the field.
“We both run a version of the wing,” Notre Dame coach Bob Ashley said. “They use a double tight formation. We usually have a slot on one side and a wing on the other.”
Fry echoed those comments.
“Their offense is similar to ours,” Fry said. “They run it wider and quicker than us but the X’s and O’s are similar.”
The Titans’ star running back, Jack Kayser, has been a person of interest for both teams this week. Kayser appeared to suffer a lower body injury in the second quarter of Saturday’s blowout victory against Grove City Christian. Kayser did reappear in the third quarter but played sparingly because of the score.
“I expect him to be full go,” Fry said. “He went back in after the injury. I think he got his ankle rolled up. I expect him to be at full strength Friday. He can fight through a lot of that stuff, he’s done it for four years.”
Ashley has little concern about the injury.
“He is pretty healthy,” Ashley said. “It was more of a scare than an injury. He went through a series of tests Saturday (before returning to the game) and he has done a good job for us all week. I expect him to be close to 100 percent (next) Friday.”
Overall, Ashley is pleased with the 3-0 start but acknowledges things have been far from perfect.
“We feel like our best football is ahead of us,” Ashley said. “We aren’t doing everything correctly. We are working on the little things to make the bigger picture happen.”
Both coaches spoke about the importance of taking care of the ball and winning the line of scrimmage as part of their keys to victory.
Fry said Northwest must be physical on both sides of the ball while eliminating turnovers. But most importantly, Fry wants his kids to enjoy the moment and relish the chance to play in front of the home town fans against a quality opponent.
Ashley has similar goals for his Titans.
“We have to be able to run the ball when we want to and stop the ball when we have to,” Ashley said. “We have to take care of the ball, no turnovers, and we have to play great special teams.”
Chris Slone can be reached at 353-3101, ext 298, or firstname.lastname@example.org. For breaking sports news, follow Chris on Twitter @crslone.