Northwest will still be strong in the backfield despite the loss of Demarcus Robinson.
Coach: Weston Schartz (58-24 in eight seasons at Northwest)
2009 Recap: 7-3 (5-2), lost 24-14 in first round of playoffs to Derby
Returning Starters: Offense 5, Defense 4
GWAL PREDICTION BLOG
Demarcus Robinson is graduated and practicing in Manhattan now, but that does not mean Northwest is hitting the panic button for its offense quite yet. The Grizzlies do not return any first or second-team all-league performers but they do return experience.
A.J. Thurman looks to be the next great Grizzly running back in his junior season. He started at fullback last season as a sophomore. Thurman will not be the only back though as Robinson left a difficult hole to fill.
“We have a lot of depth in the backfield,” head coach Weston Schartz said. “We will have to do it by committee.”
Junior Jordan Weideman will be the quarterback after playing junior varsity and sparing varsity time last season. Weideman will not start right away as he is recovering from a torn ACL, but he will take over when healthy. Schartz is not sure who will fill in as the signal caller in the interim.
“We’ll have to survive until he is able to come back,” Schartz said. “Once we get him back we will be pretty good”
Northwest will not change up its offensive philosophy despite the losses to graduation and injury. It will run the I-Formation once again.
“We’ve been doing it for 25 years and won’t change a lot,” Schartz said.
He did mention the Grizzlies would throw in more option plays.
The offensive line will be a strength for Northwest as three of the five starters are back. Seniors AJ Putnam, Christian Hood and Aharon Geddis all return to open up holes for the running game.
The defense loses first-team safety Andrew Etheridge, but strength at linebacker will help to counteract that loss.
Juniors Jacob Davis and Bennett Moore will be the cogs in the middle of the defense. Despite their young age, Schartz has confidence in them.
“I know we’ve got two of the best linebackers in town,” Schartz said. “Our linebackers are who we are trying to build around. We have got to find some defensive linemen to go with them.”
Paul Terrell is the most experienced player on the line at defensive end. Chris Hughes will try to step in at free safety as only a sophomore and lead the secondary.
Overall Schartz realizes his team is very young, but he still wants improvement on the defensive side of the ball this season.
“We finished sixth in defense in the league (last season) and it’s probably been 20 seasons since we finished that low,” Schartz said. “We have to improve on that.”
Odds and Ends:
Northwest averaged 36.5-points-per-game last season and gave up 23.6-points-per-game…In two of its three losses it gave up 55 points and 39 points…If those two games are taken out of consideration then Northwest only gives up 17.75-points-per-game last season.