High School Sports

Northside cruises to first-round rout

Taykwan Northern and Northside's defense had some first-round fun

The Eagles held Grovetown to one first down, and negative yardage in total offense until the final play.
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The Eagles held Grovetown to one first down, and negative yardage in total offense until the final play.

The opponent was from Augusta.

The running clock margin was in place at halftime.

This is 2016, not 2015 or 2014, when those two went hand in hand for many Northside football games.

The Eagles rolled to a 31-0 halftime lead en route to a 52-0 win over former region opponent Grovetown on Friday in a GHSA Class 6A first-round playoff game.

Alex Gelter’s 35-yard field goal with 17 seconds left in the first half put the running clock margin in place to start the third quarter with the Eagles stalling after a nice Isaiah Nelson punt return put them on Grovetown’s 37 with 1:01 left in the second quarter.

Northside (9-2) scored on all but one first-half possession, and the defense countered with three-and-outs on all but one Grovetown possession, excluding the one-play kneeldown to end the half.

The Warriors had one first down and minus-19 yards in offense through one half, while the Eagles had 269 yards and 15 first downs.

Northside converted two interceptions and a roughing the kicker penalty in three third-quarter touchdowns, the Eagles’ second-team offense taking over midway through the quarter, which ended with Northside up 52-0.

Six who mattered

Greg Cofer, Taykwan Northern, Trashon Owens, Braxton Golden: The Eagles’ primary defensive front was dominant from the start and took the Warriors out of the game with four straight three-and-outs to start the game and remarkably held the Warriors to one first down. Grovetown had negative yardage until the final play of the game, when the Warriors gained 7 yards to finish with 4.

Tobias Oliver: In less than three quarters of action, the senior was 14-of-20 for 193 yards and and a touchdown, and he rushed 12 times for 113.

Gelter: The Eagles’ steady kicker was perfect on seven PATs and drilled the 35-yard field goal late in the first half.

Observations

Going backwards: Through three quarters, Northside’s defense recorded nine negative plays and three more no-gain efforts, plus interceptions by Marcelle Griffin and Armand Childs, both juniors.

A good omen: Northside’s won was four points better than how it opened the playoffs in 2014 en route to the state championship. The Eagles beat Northside-Columbus 48-0, but the Patriots were 4-6 entering the postseason, one game worse than Grovetown.

Lots of bodies: Just about everybody on the Northside sideline who could play got on the field. The Eagles went through four quarterbacks and scores of running backs.

Oops: It wasn’t a perfect night. The Eagles had penalties on Grovetown’s first two punts and had a few kickoffs out of bounds, giving the Warriors possession at the 35. The defense more than made sure the kickoff errors were soon erased.

Busy bodies: Between Oliver and Jadin Daniels, eight Eagles caught passes.

Worth mentioning

Ah, the playoffs: How tough was Region 1-6A? The four teams were anxious to get out of region and into the playoff, and for good reason. Valdosta beat Lakeside-Evans 69-14, Lee County hammered Evans 41-0 and Coffee thumped Heritage-Conyers 56-24. That’s an average margin of 54-5-9.5

They said it

Northern: “It feels pretty awesome. We practiced all week for this. … Everything we did in practice, we brought to the game field.”

Northside head coach Kevin Kinsler: “You hear coaches say all the time, you play like you practice. We’ve had some really good practices. Our leaders have done a really good job. The kids always work pretty hard in practice. (We) were a little bit crisper.”

Northern on the Eagles’ focus: “It’s hard to go into the bye week with an ‘L.’ All you can think about is playing that week when you just loss.”

Kinsler on which was better, the 52 or the 0: “Defensively, obviously I thought we played well. I think we did on offense most of the time. … I’m kinda pleased with both of them. But the thing I know for sure is that defense wins championships. And it’s good to see our defense get back and flying around and playing good.”

What’s next?

Northside hosts Langston Hughes next week in the second round.

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