Northview running back Pete Cook, 44, pulls down Southview quarterback Austin Valdez by his jersey at Northview.
Northern Lakes League commissioner Larry Morrison called Southview's players together at midfield Friday night after their 35-6 win over Northview to present them their league championship trophy and to make a couple of points.
Morrison commended the Cougars for managing to achieve perfection in the NLL and for not succumbing to the week-to-week pressure that comes with being chosen preseason favorites.
"Everyone gave you their best shot," Morrison said.
It was never good enough. The Cougars (9-1, 7-0) are NLL champs for the fifth straight year — a feat they accomplished before last night — and pushed their string of wins over their crosstown rival to five. As an added bonus, they assured themselves a home game Saturday in the first round of the Division I state playoffs.
"This is probably our biggest game of the year," senior Jay Fisher said. "It's our rivals, we got home field, and it determines what we do in the playoffs. We were prepared for it."
Fisher had three short rushing touchdowns and nearly scored a fourth on defense, quarterback Austin Valdez ran for 111 yards, and the defense never allowed Northview's offense to reach the end zone.
The Cougars, who were ranked fourth in their region before the game, led 14-0 at halftime and left 14 more points on the field. Fisher had a near 100-yard interception called back late in the first half when one of his teammates drew a flag at midfield for a block in the back. Southview missed a field goal as time expired in the half. Earlier, a TD pass from Valdez to Jordan Meehan on fourth-and-18 was waved off because of a holding penalty in the backfield.
"In the first half it all came down to execution," Valdez said. "In the second half we came out, and we were ready to go, fired up, and we executed well."
Northview coach Marek Moldawsky, who ends his first season at the school at 3-7 (1-6), said the Wildcats devised a plan to take away the outside runs by Southview's best athletes, such as JQ Bowers, and invited them to run up the middle.
"They were bigger than us, they were faster than us, and they have a whole lot more athletes than us," Moldawsky said.
"Our plan was to take all of their athletes out of the game and force Valdez to run the ball. I knew eventually they'd figure out what we were doing. Once they went to their back set and started hammering us, 80 pounds per person makes a difference. It's a crazy plan, but it worked in the first half."
Northview cut the lead to 14-3 on its first drive of the second half when Alex O'Donnell made a 41-yard field goal. He converted again, from 27 yards, on his team's final drive.
Southview scored on its first three possessions of the second half, taking leads of 21-3, 28-3, and 35-3.
Two Fisher TD runs of three and seven yards sandwiched an 11-yard hook up for a score from Valdez to Nate Hall. Fisher (5-foot-10, 205 pounds) upped his TD total to 18.
"We love to run out the clock and eventually score," he said.
Southview went ahead 7-0 early when Bowers fielded a punt off the bounce at Northview's 40, bounced to the outside, and found an unobstructed path to the end zone.
"We can't make mistakes like that," Moldawsky said.
"[Southview] can make mistakes. They can recover from them. They have too many weapons. We have to play a perfect game."
As far as building a program capable again of competing with Southview, Moldawsky said "we're on our way" and the next step is getting quality players to consider attending the school. He believes he and his staff can offer "excellent coaching."
"The first thing you do is put your product on the table and it's gotta be a good product," he said. "That's when you attract kids."
Contact Ryan Autullo at: email@example.com, 419-724-6160 or on Twitter @RyanAutullo
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