NorthWood stays true to going for two

Elkhart Truth photo/Sam HouseholderNorthWood receiver Landen Gessinger jukes East Noble defenders during the game Friday, Nov. 4, 2016.

NAPPANEE — Coaches love a sure thing, or at least a seemingly sure thing. Maybe that's why most of them opt to try for one point rather than two points on a conversion most of the time after their teams score a touchdown.

Nate Andrews begs to differ with that approach, and it's worked so far this season for his high-powered NorthWood Panthers.

"It just goes back to believing two points is more than one," said Andrews, whose No. 2-ranked Panthers (12-0) host No. 3 New Haven (11-0) in a Class 4A regional showdown of unbeatens Friday at Andrews Field.

Reasoned the coach, "Even if you have a kicker who makes 100 percent — and how many high school teams have a kicker who makes 100 percent? — if you can be over 50 (percent on two-point tries), then you're going to score more points."

And NorthWood is way over 50 percent on its two-point attempts.

The Panthers, in fact, are 41-of-54 for 75.9 percent.

It's not like they're chasing two points by necessity, either. Kicker Adler Chamberlin has been reasonably reliable at 18-of-21 on one-point tries.

Overall, NorthWood has added 100 points on the heels of its 76 touchdowns this year. That's better than 1.3 points tacked on per TD scored.

Typically, the Panthers go for two-pointers during the earlier part of games, then for one when a lead grows more comfortable.

Conversely, most teams go for one early, then for two if the situation dictates it.

"If you can match touchdowns and still get ahead, that can be a huge advantage," Andrews said. "It can be demoralizing for the other team."

NorthWood's glistening two-point success rate from 3 yards out has been hatched from a variety of weapons and a variety of calls, so forget about keying on one player or one play.

Bronson Yoder is the team's runaway leader in two-point conversions with 18, yet he's also accounted for less than half the team's total.

In all, eight different players have tallied a two, with Yoder joined by five other players who have converted at least three apiece.

Nine of the conversions have come by pass, 32 by run.

An intriguing contrast to Friday's heavyweight matchup is that New Haven, based on stats provided by the school, has kicked after 77 of its 78 touchdowns this year. Kicker Juan Bonilla is 65-of-77. Coach Jim Rowland's Bulldogs do not have a successful two-point try.

As for field goals, Bonilla is 2-of-5, while the Panthers have not logged an attempt.

Whatever kick-or-not decisions the coaches do make Friday, at a minimum, expect them to have to make some.

After all, New Haven's averaging 49 points, NorthWood 46.3.

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