Northridge 'D' helps end losing streak to Plymouth

Elkhart Truth file photoNorthridge football coach Tom Wogomon talks to an official during a game in 2015. The Raiders held Plymouth to 53 rushing yards in last week's NLC victory.

In a season filled with high-scoring games, offensive statistics that have jumped off the page in high school football.

But there was a huge defensive stat coming out of Northridge's 22-14 victory over Plymouth on Friday night.

Rushing yards: Plymouth 53.

"I'll tell you what, the kids had a very physical week of practice and our defensive coaches put a great plan together,'' Northridge coach Tom Wogomon said. "When you're defending the option offense that Plymouth runs, you have to be really disciplined and I thought our kids really were on Friday. I'm sure it's been awhile since anyone has held a Plymouth team to under 60 yards rushing.''

The Raiders had opened the season with three straight losses, including a tough double-overtime loss to Wawasee in their Northern Lakes Conference opener. Although the loss to the Warriors hurt, it did help Northridge get ready for the Plymouth option game.

"We were able to just tweak some things in the game plan and then the kids went out and really defended it,'' Wogomon said. "Plymouth is known for going on some nice, long drives and we didn't let them do that on Friday. Plus, we were able to force five turnovers, which was even more impressive.''

The Raiders' victory snapped an 18-game losing streak to the Rockies. Northridge's last victory in the series was in 2001, a year Plymouth reached the Class 4A semistate. The teams met four straight years in the playoffs during the streak.

"Beating a team like Plymouth is huge for this program because it hasn't happened in so long,'' Wogomon said. "Plus, it's a real shot in the arm for these kids. We started out with three losses against good teams, so for us to win a game like that was very important.''

The Raiders have battled the turnover bug in the first three games of the season, giving the ball up 11 times in their three losses. In addition, junior quarterback Nick Hooley also missed part of the opener against South Bend Adams and all of the Michigan City game with a hamstring injury.

Hooley came back against the Rockies, tossing a touchdown pass to Mason Troyer, while kicker Camm Nickell had three field goals for Northridge.

"We wanted to come out and play physical football and hang onto the ball,'' Wogomon said. "I was happy for Hooley because Plymouth knocked him out for the season last year and he's had that game circled since. He came out and made some throws when he had to and more importantly made good decisions.''


Bob Miller has no regrets.

Although his Fairfield Falcons are 1-3 — with losses to bigger schools Goshen, NorthWood and Niles — Miller says the experience will help his young team as the season goes on.

"There was a stretch of years where the state champion was coming out of our sectional every season,'' Miller said. "There was Jimtown and Luers and Fort Wayne Harding and we knew that if we not only wanted to compete against those schools, but also to earn their respect, that we'd have to play some teams at that kind of level.

"When you look what we've been able to do against what is basically two 5A programs (Goshen and Niles) and a 4A powerhouse (NorthWood), we have been able to go toe-to-toe with them at times. We took the opening kick the length of the field in every game and scored. But you can't manufacture numbers and our depth has been a problem in those games ... we just can't hold them back for four quarters.''

The Falcons may have taken a big hit on Friday against a physical Niles team when three-year starting linebacker Travis McCoy was injured on a non-contact play. McCoy, who led Fairfield in tackles last season, was also playing fullback for Miller.

"We won't know for sure until Travis has the knee checked out,'' Miller said. "We saw it on tape this morning (Saturday), he went to change direction and the knee just buckled. It's a real concern for us.''

One bright spot for the Falcons is sophomore receiver Cordell Hofer, who caught two touchdown passes against Niles a week after catching six passes for 99 yards and a score against Central Noble.

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