News From Terre Haute, Indiana

September 7, 2013

FRIDAY PREP PREVIEW: Teams laying groundwork for conference races

Andy Amey
The Tribune-Star

TERRE HAUTE — The only conference news was bad for the Wabash Valley on Friday, as host West Vigo suffered a serious — but not necessarily fatal — blow to its hopes of repeating as Western Indiana Conference champions, or co-champions as was the case a year ago.

This week, coach Jeff Cobb can sit back and scout the rest of the WIC in Lucas Oil Stadium, where the Vikings have the last game — and only nonconference game — in Saturday’s Western Indiana Conference Classic.

Terre Haute North and Terre Haute South took care of business in their final nonconference games of the season, and now both of them get down to serious business in Conference Indiana — the Patriots hosting Southport, the league’s only 3-0 team, and the Braves traveling to play Perry Meridian.

West Vigo never quite got a grip on its home game against Brown County on Friday, a game that was a little different than Cobb’s teams usually play.

Even though there’s too much Led Zeppelin on his playlist to make one think the West Vigo coach is a Woody Hayes disciple, Cobb’s teams are not averse to a three-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust philosophy, figuring that their best defense can sometimes be an offense that keeps the ball.

That was hardly the case against the Eagles. The Vikings had one nice nine-play, 80-yard drive but otherwise scored on a pair of one-play drives and two kickoff returns by Hunter Voils (who was also responsible for one of the one-play drives).

In the first 10 minutes of the third quarter, in fact, West Vigo ran just one offensive play even while outscoring its visitors 12-6, a sequence that went this way: four-minute unsuccessful Brown County possession, punt, 65-yard run by Voils; eight-play, three-minute scoring drive by Brown County; kickoff return for a touchdown by Voils; unsuccessful Brown County possession.

That was a lot of time on the field for a West Vigo defense that is — probably not revealing any scouting secrets here — not very big. Brown County’s offensive line, on the other hand, is pretty big.

West Vigo’s best offensive weapon was the one teams hate to use. Between Voils and Tyler Gustafson, the Vikings averaged nearly 62 yards per kickoff return.

Now the WIC teams go to Indianapolis for three conference games and the West Vigo-Linton finale. All four matchups look interesting, but the 11 a.m. opener might be the most significant as Sullivan — the other 2012 co-champ — plays perennial contender Northview.

The Golden Arrows, who will be playing their WIC opener, got some big plays by Jake Kinnaman both offensively and defensively and scored twice in the last six minutes to overhaul previously unbeaten North Knox on Friday, while the Knights — who had been unbeaten themselves — ran into Terre Haute North at the wrong time.

Typical of Northview’s night was the opening sequence of the third quarter. Although the game was already one-sided, the Knights came out defensively and quickly forced the Patriots into a fourth-down situation — only to have North quarterback Chris Barrett II go 71 yards up the middle for a touchdown.

“A little over a week ago [the Patriots] were ranked fifth in [Class] 5A,” coach Mark Raetz of the Knights pointed out. “At the same time I think we’re a better team than what we showed tonight … hopefully we’ll be able to learn from our mistakes and be better next week.”

Looking around the conferences:

Conference Indiana — Southport’s 55-31 win over Perry Meridian was the week’s crucial game, although either of those teams could suffer a post-rivalry letdown this week. Franklin Central is unheralded but lurking, and Bloomington North has won two straight heading into its city championship game.

Western Indiana Conference — Speaking of lurking, Owen Valley could be off to a 3-0 start if the Patriots can handle Edgewood in another big rivalry contest.

Wabash River Conference — Apparently already separated into a top half and bottom half, the key game is Attica at Rockville, where the winner will join Fountain Central — unless Covington pulls the shocker of the year — at 3-0. Riverton Parke and Seeger meet to determine the leader among the four teams currently 0-2 in conference play.

Southwest Conference — This week’s only conference game has an unusual setting; North Knox and Wood Memorial come to Terre Haute and play an 8 p.m. game in Memorial Stadium.

Illinois — Conference games begin this week in the Little Illini Conference, where crossover competition seems to be showing that LIC Egyptian has the upper hand over LIC Eastern (with the notable exception of Casey). Marshall has a stiff test at Olney, while the Lawrenceville-at-Robinson game looks crucial.

Paris is currently the only unbeaten Apollo Conference team — with league play still a week away — and Martinsville hosts Tri-County in Little Okaw Valley Conference openers for both.