BY DOUG GORMAN
It’s always easier to practice the week after a victory.
Just ask the Northgate High School football team which improved its record to 1-1 with a dramatic 31-29 victory over Starr’s Mill in the final non-region game for the Vikings last Friday.
Northgate had to rally against the Panthers after falling behind 16-14 at the half.
The Vikings used a potent rushing attack getting two touchdown runs from Cameron Cruver and one from Tanner Hughes to help spark the offense and the Vikings’ comeback.
Quarterback Isaac Corbitt also connected on a 13-yard touchdown pass to Gerald Harris.
They also got the go-ahead field goal from Kade Loggins who split the uprights on a 39-yard kick.
However, it was stopping the Panthers potential tying 2-point conversion at the end of the game to secure the victory that went down as the turning point in the game.
The Vikings’ victory came just one week after they lost to 44-17 Newnan in the season-opener.
“We improved greatly from week one to week two.,” said Northgate head coach Mike McDonald. “That is what you want to see. There was certainly a different vive on Monday. We had to battle because we got down early, but I was proud of the kids.”
McDonald said he was impressed with maturity level of his team after they fell behind.
“I think it says a lot about the character of this team,” he said. “We made some big plays. We just have to keep getting better each week.”
Now, the remaining eight games could go a long way in deciding the Vikings’ playoff hopes.
“We have had our best three practices back-to-back this week,” McDonald said.
Northgate plays Region 5 6A games the rest of the way, including against Douglas County on the road tonight.
Douglas County started the year ranked in the Class 6A preseason poll, but has dropped out after starting the season with a 1-1 record.
Douglas County returns to the field for the region opener after an open date last week.
Douglas County head coach Johnny White is in his third season with the Tigers and has guided them on a turnaround, compiling a 17-7 record.
In the three years before he arrived at Douglas County, the Tigers won just 10 games.
A year ago, the Tigers beat Northgate 21-0 on their way to finishing 10-2 and advancing to the second round of the playoffs.
It was the Tigers’ first 10-win since 2005.
Until White arrived on the Douglas County campus, the Tigers had not had a winning season for eight years, and finished .500 just twice.
Douglas County will throw a balanced offensive attack at the Vikings in tonight’s region opener.
Quarterback Marquese Collings has passed for 198 yards and thrown a touchdown.
Seven running backs have carried the ball at least one time for the Tigers with Michael Oldfield leading the way with three touchdowns and 125 yards.
Dariyan Wiley is the Tigers go-to-guy on offense. Through the first two games, he has caught seven passes including one for a touchdown.
Playing just two non-region games is something McDonald has had to get used to as the first-year coach of the Vikings.
While serving eight years as the head coach at Newnan and then last season as an assistant coach at East Coweta, his teams usually had five non-region games as tuneups for the league contest.
“At Newnan and East Coweta we had plenty of time to get ready,” he said.”Here it’s like boom. You play two games and now you are into the region schedule. The stakes are raised, there is no doubt. You definitely want to get off to a good start in the region,” McDonald said.
Northgate will be changed by a Douglas County squad that has talent on both sides of the ball including defensive end Mataio Soli who has verbally committed to Arkansas.
“They are really good in the box on defense, and they are really fast in the secondary.” McDonald said. Offensively, they are a good size upfront. The quarterback can run and throw the ball.”
Northgate finally returns home next week against Creekside where they will play on the newly installed artificial turf at Henry Seldon Field.