NAPPANEE –ÊWhile Purdue University touts itself as the “Cradle of Quarterbacks” for college football, NorthWood High School might take that same title for high schools.
“If you go back though the years, we have had several all-conference and all-state quarterbacks,” said NorthWood coach Rich Dodson. “The type of offense we run puts the quarterback at the front. Coach (Gene) Zercher also has the ability to get the best out of his quarterbacks.”
After Charlie Roeder, who was voted the top quarterback in Indiana in 1999, graduated last season, many folks around the NorthWood area thought the Panthers would see a down year, at least in the quarterback slot.
However, this year’s NorthWood signal caller, Mike Blosser, has stepped into the quarterback position and carved out a niche for himself.
“It was hard, but I knew I could fill (Roeder’s) shoes,” said Blosser.
In fact, as NorthWood heads into the sectional semifinal, Blosser has folks around NorthWood saying, “Charlie who?”
In his first year as the starting quarterback for the Panthers, Blosser has completed 87 of 142 passes for 1,529 yards and 18 touchdowns.
“It’s not like Mike was taking tickets or anything while Charlie was playing,” said Dodson. “He knew what he needed to get done, and he took it to heart. He’s not a surprise to me. I knew he could get the job done for us.”
But it was not always easy for Blosser to play behind Roeder.
“It was tough playing behind him,” said Blosser, “but I used that time to learn from him. I knew that I would not get to play much varsity until I was a senior, but Charlie did many things well and I learned a lot by watching him.”
Blosser also used his time wisely in the weight room.
“The weight room is always open for football players in the summer,” said Blosser. “I spent a lot of time in there. Then I got with Willy Will and threw the ball around with him to keep my arm strong and loose.”
Along with Will, who has caught 36 passes for 789 yards, Blosser looks to the Panther offensive line to keep him protected. Blosser relies on center Neil Widmer, guards Rod Miller, Donnie Aleo, and Abe Almager, and tackles Randy Lehman and Jeff Swihart to give him time to throw the ball.
However, Blosser and Will won’t be the only offensive weapons Angola has to deal with.
“Their quarterback is probably the best quarterback we have seen all year,” said Angola coach Don Harter. “Blosser is definitely one of the best quarterbacks in the state. And the (Willy) Will kid who plays wide receiver and defensive back is an excellent player both ways. They have two really strong running backs as well. It will be important for us to stop Jesse Fink along with Ben Lehman as well. Both have quickness.
“That means we cannot concentrate on any one player. We will have to be focused to play well against them. They can hurt you in a lot of ways.”
Along with NorthWood’s offensive weapons, Angola is aware of the Panther defense.
“We know that coach Dodson always has good teams,” said Angola Coach Don Harter. “He has some great kids who are physically strong, and they have a great tradition.
“NorthWood is always very well-coached team, and they are always prepared. They are an excellent team both offensively and defensively, and I expect them to be ready.”
But Harter plans to have his team ready for battle.
“I think we’ve definitely have to establish a running game against them. We are going to concentrate on that at first. We are concentrating on doing our job,” said Harter. “Good defense is imperative for us.”
“Angola has a lot of different formations,” said Dodson. “We have to be ready to adjust our defense to those different formations.”
“This time of year defense is always very important,” said Harter. “Last week we won 8-7, and games only get tougher. If your defense can hold the score down, you have a better chance to get out with a win. You’re not going to have a lot of success if your defense gives up a lot of yards. Defense will definitely be a key.”
The Panthers and Hornets play at 7:30 p.m. Friday in Nappanee.
Coach – Rich Dodson
NorthWood game scores (home team in caps)
JIMTOWN 30, NorthWood 21
NorthWood 56, BREMEN 0
NORTHWOOD 42, Concord 21
NORTHWOOD 16, GOSHEN 13
NorthWood 40, WAWASEE 12
NORTHWOOD 42, Northridge 7
NORTHWOOD 39, Dowagiac (MICH) 20
Warsaw 29, NORTHWOOD 28, OT
NorthWood 32, PLYMOUTH 21
NorthWood 34, NEW HAVEN 7
Rushing (carries-yards, per game average) –ÊJesse Fink 98-646 (64.6); Ben Lehman 100-580 (58.0); Mike Blosser 98-434 (43.4)
Passing –ÊMike Blosser 87-142-4, 1,529 yards, 61.3 percent completion, 18 touchdowns
Receiving (catches-yards, per game average) –ÊWilly Will 36-789 (78.9); Jesse Fink 22-316 (31.6); Ryan Mast 12-139 (13.9)
Touchdowns –ÊJesse Fink 18, Willy Will 11, Mike Blosser 6, Ben Lehman 6
Punts (attempts-yards, average) –ÊMike Blosser 19-568 (29.9); Abe Almager 5-209 (41.8)
Punt Returns (Attempts-yards, average) –ÊWilly Will 16-260 (16.3); Scott Hill 4-34 (8.5)
Kick Returns (Attempts–yards, average) –ÊScott Hill 8-152 (19.0), Ben Lehman 5-82 (16.4), Willy Will 4-112 (28.0)Ê
Tackles –ÊJosh Cook 85, Willy Will 77, Jeff Baumgartner 67, Tim Schmucker 64, Justin Titus 52, Eric Flickinger 42
Sacks –ÊJeff Baumgartner 1, Justin Titus 1, Jared Hershberger 1, Jamie Garcia 1, Ryan Mast 1, Jason Gibson 1
Interceptions –ÊWIlly Will 2, Scott Hill 2, Tim Barrett 2, Josh Snyder 1, Tim Schmucker 1
Fumble recoveries –ÊJustin Titus 3, Josh Snyder 2
Coach –ÊDon Harter
Record – 6-4
Angola game scores (home team in caps)
Angola 40, Northridge 12
Angola 34, Fairfield 7
Angola 28, Fremont 14
Garrett 14, Angola 6
Lakeland 42, Angola 14
Angola 32, Prairie Heights 0
Angola 25, Eastside 8
West Noble 36, Angola 8
Heritage 14, Angola 0
Angola 8, West Noble 7
Rushing (carries-yards, per game average) –ÊStacy Martin 175-923 (92.3); Thad McClelland 69-290 (29.0); Dwayne Thompson 24-220 (22.0); Dane Goshom 37-145 (14.5)
Passing –ÊRick Gessaman 62-142-17, 869 yards, 48.5 percent completion, 12 touchdown passes
Receiving (catches-yards, per game average) –ÊJared Crooks 11-134 (13.4); Ben Damell 29-448 (44.8); Stacy Martin 9-66 (6.6); Jeremy Eash 3-107 (10.7)
Touchdowns –ÊStacy Martin 15, Ben Damell 5, Dwayne Thompson 5, Jared Crooks 3
Punts (attempts-yards, average) –ÊN/A
Punt Returns (Attempts-yards, average) –ÊN/A
Kick Returns –ÊN/A
Tackles –ÊJustin Price 54, Ben Damell 40, Dwayne Thompson 39, Kyle Kaufman 36
Fumble recoveries –ÊN/A