Jim Andrews often called for, and typically got, “sudden change” when he was NorthWood coach.
Both his son and the Panthers certainly needed some sort of change of their own after the way the Jimtown Jimmies dominated the first half of their Friday, Aug. 22, high school football season opener at Knepp Field.
For the Panthers it was a matter of “adjusting to the speed of the game,” as Nate Andrews described it.
For Andrews himself, it was a matter of getting a grip on his emotions during his debut contest as head coach of the alma mater he has always cherished, after seven years as a head coach at two other schools.
“I wasn’t myself in the first half,” Andrews confessed after NorthWood rallied to defeat the Jimmies 14-6 in the second. “Tonight was weird in the fact that I think emotionally I was pretty drained. I didn’t feel like I was in tune to our game plan. I attribute it to being probably emotionally spent. I hope that’s out of my system now.”
Andrews said he was better in the second half.
His Panthers definitely were.
Led by workhorse quarterback/safety Travis Bear, who scored all of his team’s 14 points and finished with 152 yards rushing, NorthWood churned to a 228-108 advantage in total yards and 14-5 advantage in first downs during the second half, that after being outgained 243-82 in total yards during the opening half.
“I told our kids at halftime, we didn’t do anything right and Jimtown was making plays, and yet we’re only down 6-0, and so — I know it sounds kind of weird — but as I told our kids, I felt like we had them on the ropes, and our kids responded to that,” Andrews said.
“We had not taken it to them in the first half like I thought we might be able to do,” the coach continued. “We weren’t physical, we weren’t the aggressor, but the thing about it is, our kids were still playing hard. We still kept our chins up and our eyes open.”
Open eyes didn’t help a whole lot at the moment a second episode of the field lights going out occurred just after the second-half kickoff, causing a virtual blackout.
But, hey, that was one genuinely sudden change, and yet another came on the very first play following the 14-minute delay, with the lights still not back at full power, when Bear broke loose for a 70-yard gain.
The Panthers didn’t wind up scoring on that possession, missing a field goal, but Bear’s run seemed to establish a tone.
Jimtown went three-and-out on its next possession, and NorthWood followed with a 67-yard touchdown drive to tie the game at 6-all midway through the third quarter.
The Jimmies answered with a 36-yard procession to the Panther 16, but that’s when NorthWood’s Marshall Shafer made his second fumble recovery of the night.
The Panthers capitalized with a second straight scoring drive, this time going 83 yards on 10 plays for what proved the decisive TD early in the fourth quarter.
“You know what the best part is? These people,” Andrews said as he made a sweeping point toward relatives, longtime NorthWood assistants and others with whom he had just exchanged emotional postgame hugs. “These people have helped raise me and are here for me. That’s the best part.”
Andrews acknowledged that he couldn’t help but think Friday about his legendary father, who was killed in an auto accident in 1992, when Nate was an eighth-grader.
“Yeah, it’s fair to say he went through my mind, but he always does,” Andrews said, “whether it’s coaching here or coaching somewhere else, or at other times.”
NORTHWOOD 14, JIMTOWN 6
Scoring by Quarters
NorthWood 0 0 6 8 — 14
Jimtown 0 6 0 0 — 6
School — Scoring Play
J — Tyler Lundy 2 run; kick failed, 11:30
N — Travis Bear 9 run; kick failed, 5:43.
N — Bear 1 run; Bear run, 10:24.
Officials: Dave Slupczynski, St. John; Jeff Nordyke, McCordsville; Jeff Kolwitz, Whiting; Mitch Orsburn, Valparaiso; Gio Mameniak, Hobart.