Experienced Flames looking to rebound

By MEL PERKINS

Coach T.J. Wiley will lead the Northgate Flames onto the gridiron tonight, when they travel to Stone Field in North Park to face the Trojans from North Catholic in a Black Hills Section match-up. Northgate would like to rebound from the 2014-15 season where they went 2-5 in the section and 4-6 overall.

Last year the Flames lost three games by a total of 10 points, to Bishop Canevin 14-13, Chartiers-Houston 19-13, and Brentwood 26-23. Those 10 points were the result of flags after the whistle, and Wiley and his players have not forgotten. Throughout the off-season one could hear the chant of "Three and 10," as the Flames rallied in defiance of that happening again.

When asked about the Flames' off-season preparations, Coach Wiley said, "We had a really good off-season. In my years here at Northgate it has been our best off-season, in the sense that the kids, I think, have bought into us as a program, in what we're preaching and teaching."

This group has really embraced Wiley's philosophy and this team more than any of his others seems to have developed an appreciation for his approach to winning, on and off the field. "Class, character, doing things the right way, striving to reach your full potential in the classroom, in the community, and on the field," is what Wiley works to instill in his players.

Wiley feels that this team has embraced that philosophy 100 percent. "Our numbers in the weight room were good. Our numbers through summer practice were good. We won a 7-on-7 tournament this summer, and we went to the quarter finals in another. It's good for the kids to see the fruits of their labor, to see success from their hard work."

Northgate has some much needed experience this year, with 12 seniors. The defense will be led by senior linebackers Jon Lenoski (6'3", 240), Rodney Burrow (6'1", 180), and Jarred Jackson (5'11", 175). All three linebackers are experienced and will alternate calling the plays on defense.

Also providing experience on defense will be junior defensive end Ray Mangone (5'11", 195), junior defensive end Caleb Turner (6'1", 195), senior defensive lineman Jacob Fisher (6'0", 290), senior defensive back Xavier Rowsey (6'0", 165), and junior defensive back Stephon Adams (5'11", 175).

On offense, the play-calling will be split between senior quarterback Chris Gibbons (6'0", 190) and Stephon Adams, who has been gaining experience at the position over the last two years. Wiley is confident in both Gibbons and Adams, saying, "They both bring different skill sets to the plate. Chris is a thrower, and Steph's more of an athlete." Wiley says that he is not against playing two quarterbacks.

Gibbons and Adams will have solid targets to throw to, with Burrows, Rowsey and junior Mike Allen (5'9", 140) lining up at the wide receiver positions.

And, look for a double dose of speed with junior running backs Surron Adams (5'6", 170) and Kavah Bowie (5'9", 165) lining up in the backfield. Adams returns after putting up good numbers last year, and Bowie is in his first year with the Flames.

Key match-ups: North Catholic, Avonworth, Brentwood and Chartiers-Houston.