HOWARD — The East Knox Bulldogs and the Northmor Golden Knights, two undefeated teams, meet Friday night in Howard with a lot on the line, including a bump up in the league and playoffs standings, but neither team is focused on the standings heading into the game.
“Every week we said go 1-0 and take each week one at a time and nothing else matters,” East Knox coach Cody Reese said. “That started during two-a-days — just win the day and focus on getting better each and every day.”
Northmor coach Scott Armrose echoed those ideals.
“We know it’s a big game, but we have really taken the approach the same and look to perform the same,” he said.
East Knox’s quarterback, Kadden Lester, has recorded 1,735 passing yards and 17 touchdowns through the air so far this fall, helping to lead the way to a 6-0 record. Caleb Gallwitz (635 yards) and Weston Melick (354 yards) are two of Lester’s favorite targets. He has not thrown an interception yet this fall and is not looking to change that stat this week, although Northmor hopes for the opposite.
“We’ve not seen anyone who can throw the ball like they can and we haven’t seen a quarterback like they have in Kadden Lester,” Armrose said. “We are going to have to play really well in the secondary.”
“They’re a big-play team and we have to limit their big plays,” Armrose said. “If we can stop their big plays and make them drive the ball, we can be in pretty good shape.”
For East Knox’s Reese, the big play ability of his offense has been a pleasant surprise.
“That wasn’t the game plan coming in, but it has certainly worked out,” Reese said. “A win is all that matters. The avenue to get that win doesn’t matter.”
The Bulldogs’ offense can cause headaches for the Golden Knights defense, but the Northmor offense is hoping to return the favor.
The visitors bring in one of the top area runners in Conor Becker, who has notched an area-high 1,296 yards on 148 carries, averaging 8.8 yards per scamper. He is one rushing touchdown shy of Krownapple so far this season, with 20 to his credit.
“They have a really good running back so you want to focus on that, but at the same time, they have a solid quarterback and receiving corp and then their line is great,” Reese said. “From top to bottom, they’re a great team.”
As Reese mentioned, Northmor’s quarterback, Hunter Mariotti, has had a solid season as the Golden Knight signal caller, recording 779 yards, 11 touchdowns and one interception on 53 completions. He has linked up with Becker for 243 yards and tossed for another 230 yards to Gavin Ramos. Cole Dille and Wyatt Reeder also have more than 100 yards receiving on the year.
Both teams are coming into the matchup hot. Northmor beat Cardington 46-20 a week ago, while East Knox handled Centerburg, 42-7.
In addition to the two high-scoring teams meeting up Friday for the high-stakes game, it is East Knox’s Homecoming.
“It’s exciting to have people come back for the game, but when it comes to our game plan and preparation and things like that, we aren’t going to change a thing,” Reese said.