If there was one thing that the Western Indiana Conference West high school football division could count on for the past four seasons, it’s that the Sullivan-Northview game would decide the division championship.
The two teams were both 17-3 in conference games during those seasons, with each beating the other twice (meaning that each lost just once to another WIC West opponent).
This week they’re joining forces — and will do so in another context in the future.
Players from the Knights and Golden Arrows are members of the Gold Squad for Saturday night’s Wabash Valley Football Coaches Association All-Star Game and three of them will be teammates in college too. Trevor Cook and M.J. Shelton, two members of Northview’s “triplets” along with quarterback Trey Shaw, will be heading to Millikin this fall. So will Sullivan quarterback Jack Conner.
Asked this week about sharing his weapons with his rival quarterback, Shaw said, “[Conner’s] getting two good ones, that’s for sure.”
“I’ve played against [Conner] for four years. I hope he likes playing with me,” Shelton said.
“Jack’s a good dude,” Cook added. “We’ve been good friends for a little bit and I’m excited to be playing with him instead of against him. We’ll make a good team.”
“I’ve been able to use this week to be teammates with [the Knights],” Conner said. “They’re a good group and I like them. It will be a fun four years [at Millikin].”
How the quarterback reps break down on Saturday has yet to be determined and the Northview players said they didn’t know if their participation will be a look back, reuniting with Shaw for one last time, or a look forward with Conner.
Probably it will be plenty of both. But all are looking forward to it.
“It’s been a lot of fun [at practice this week],” said Shaw, who is looking forward to playing football and baseball at DePauw. “It’s a little more relaxed and you get to meet a lot of new guys.”
“Trey’s been my quarterback for five years,” Cook said. “I know he’s gonna do great things at DePauw.”
“I’m excited to play some football again,” said Conner. “It’s been a lot of fun [with the Knights]. We get to talk about past games and now we can come together.”
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On the other side of the field:
• Last games — Coach of the Black Squad is Jeremy Clodfelder of Paris, who naturally has some of his key personnel with him after lifting the Tigers from the doldrums a few years ago to an undefeated regular season in 2018.
Two of those Tigers are twins Caleb and Jacob Gates, neither of whom expects to be playing anywhere next fall.
Caleb, the Paris quarterback, is excited to be back on the field because he had a hand injury at the end of the fall season that meant he couldn’t throw the ball. He played in every game, but for several of those contests — including both playoff games — he was limited to handoffs.
“It was tough not being able to throw those last few games,” he said at practice this week.
His brother will be one of his blockers, although it was as a defensive lineman that Jacob played in the Illinois Shrine Game recently.
“We’re working really hard this week so far,” Jacob said, while adding that he’s hoping to see action on both sides of the ball. “We’re understanding our plays and have been able to run them right.”
And if Saturday is the last time the twins are on the field?
“It’s sad,” Caleb said. “I’m gonna go out there and try my hardest; have fun and make it memorable.”
“I’m gonna stay in the moment,” Jacob said. “Make sure I look around and take it all in.”
Kickoff is 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Memorial Stadium. The all-stars and the 2019 WVFCA Hall of Fame Class — Andy Amey, Brent Compton, Norm Lowery and Dave Patterson — will be honored Friday night at a banquet at the Providence Center at Saint Mary-of-the-Woods.