News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 1, 2006

Fields of Sports: Who would win a mythical Wabash Valley championship?

By Steve Fields

TERRE HAUTE — Northview at Terre Haute North.

This must be the second week of the unofficial Wabash Valley high school football championship series.

Of course, it’s not really a championship series because Northview doesn’t play Terre Haute South – a scheduling error that should be rectified. But let’s have some fun with the Valley football schedules.

If the coaches can mesh the different classes for an all-star game, I can put together a six-degrees-of-separation football tournament. The Northview and West Vigo schedules are the linchpins.

Now, North beat South in the opening week of the tourney and Linton took down Sullivan. So the Northview-North game could decide the tournament, as the Patriots don’t play another Valley team. But we can play this tournament without North and South, too.

However, if Northview does beat North, that keeps West Vigo, Sullivan, South Vermillion and Linton alive for the Wabash Valley title. The week after playing North, Northview plays Sullivan, while West Vigo goes to Linton.

Northview will be sky high and ripe for an upset by Sullivan. If Sullivan surprises Northview, the winner of the Linton-West Vigo game moves into a first-place tie with the Knights.

Of course, West Vigo also plays Northview, Sullivan and South Vermillion head-to-head. Wins over Linton, Northview, South Vermillion and Sullivan would make West Vigo the tournament champ. Even without a tournament, West Vigo coach Jeff Cobb would take that kind of season.

If Linton beats West Vigo, the six-degrees of separation spins a whole new direction.

For at least the second year in a row, some Northview fans are claiming the Knights to be the best football program in the Wabash Valley.

Now, all of this will sort itself out on the football field, but, the Knights, a Class 4A school program, have beaten a weak Class 2A Salem team and a struggling Class 3A Edgewood by a combined 88-7 margin. Meanwhile, North has beaten two Class 5A teams, rival South (27-23) and Evansville Harrison (48-13).

Moments after his Knights drilled Edgewood 42-0 last Friday, Northview coach George Gettle said on the post-game radio show that a victory over North is the only “feather in the hat” the Knights don’t have. That would be the next big step for the Knights under Gettle.

The Knights’ first big step under Gettle was taking down a highly-ranked Vincennes Lincoln team led by Matt Painter, now Purdue’s starting quarterback, a few years back. Then the Knights started playing like a 4A team in a 3A conference and reeled off three consecutive titles.

The next big step for Northview would be winning a Class 4A sectional championship. In fact, according to IHSAA records, Northview is one of five Wabash Valley football programs without a sectional championship. The others are Sullivan, South Vermillion, North Central and Union.

The sectional championship list shows South Putnam with eight titles, all in Class A, followed by Linton with five, Greencastle and Rockville two each, and North, South, West Vigo, Cloverdale, Riverton Parke, North Vermillion and Turkey Run with one title each.

In case you don’t get it, I love high school football and basketball and single-class tournaments. Unfortunately, it doesn’t translate to the football field, because it’s a numbers game.

And just in case anyone forgot, high school athletics is supposed to be part of the education process — coaches are teachers, players are students and fans … well it’s meet the teacher night every Friday.

Tribune-Star correspondent Steve Fields can be reached at by e-mail at