JOHNSTOWN — A stark contrast so far this season from previous for Northridge has been on the offensive side of the ball.
Do not forget, however, about the defense. For the second time in three weeks, the Vikings shut out an opponent in the second half until they could move to the offensive side of the ball and find a clutch touchdown.
Northridge finally edged Mount Gilead 26-20 in overtime in a game which went to halftime tied at 20. The Vikings have allowed just five offensive touchdowns, counting one in the final seconds of a Week 2 rout of Lakewood.
“That’s a message that we deliver to them: When we develop a scheme and come on Mondays and say, ‘OK, here is what we are going to do this week,’ I look those kids in the eyes and say, ‘It’s because we believe in your abilities and what you can do. I trust you to do this,’” coach Shawn Hinkle said.
Northridge has shown a knack for stiffening in the red zone. The Vikings had early momentum-building stops in each of the first two games, and Mount Gilead only had two offensive scores despite racking up 333 yards on the ground in Week 3.
The Vikings overcame Washington Court House’s tremendous size in Week 1, and they grounded Lakewood’s passing game in Week 2. Daniel Hatfield and Caleb Absten had interceptions.
“This might have been one of the better secondaries that they’ve seen so far, and I would include their scrimmages with that as well,” Hinkle said after the Lakewood win.
“We are young, but we have some athletic kids back there. And they play hard.”
John Berkley had a third interception of Lakewood quarterback Cole Glaub, and he returned it 21 yards for a touchdown to crush any hopes the Lancers had of a second-half comeback. Usually, Berkley is helping Alexander Webb, a rare quarterback/defensive end combination, Trevor Roach and Austin Chambers provide the pressure.
“We had some things going on up front where we were able to pressure (Glaub) a little bit more, which helps,” Hinkle said.
Northridge is doing its best with a limited roster to keep players fresh. With so many players going both ways, a play or two off might be the extent of a break many of the Vikings receive.
Using the entire roster, however, is building a confidence around Northridge that has been missing in recent seasons.
“I think that goes a long way,” Hinkle said. “They need to know that they are being counted on.”
Aug. 28: Northridge 14, @Washington 7
Sept. 4: Northridge 43, @Lakewood 15
Sept. 11: Northridge 26, Mt. Gilead 20, OT
Sept. 18: Fort Frye, 7 p.m.
Sept. 26: @Bradford, 7:30 p.m.
Oct. 2: Johnstown, 7 p.m.
Oct. 9: @Hicksville, 7 p.m.
Oct. 16: @Heath, 7 p.m.
Oct. 24: @Newark Catholic, 8 p.m.
Oct. 30: Utica, 7 p.m.