Trevor Gilbert (right) of North Union fights off an opposing player during a game from earlier this season. The Wildcats will put their unbeaten record on the line tonight when they host Kenton Ridge. (Journal-Tribune file photo)
After three weeks of a full non-league football schedule, the North Union Wildcats journey into the Central Buckeye Conference this Friday as the Wildcats host Kenton Ridge.
While playing a CBC foe, the contest is an extension of the non-league season.
North Union is a member of the Mad River Division and Kenton Ridge resides in the Kenton Trail Division. During two weeks of the season, the CBC teams cross over divisions, but each game does not count on the official league schedule.
The Wildcats have won each of their first three games while the Cougars are 2-1, losing late in the fourth quarter to Mechanicsburg in the first week of the season.
North Union will be facing a very potent offense in Kenton Ridge, which is averaging more than 40 points per game so far this season.
“Kenton Ridge is a really good football team,” NU head coach Nick Hajjar said. “They mirror us a little bit on offense.”
That offense has produced 1,491 yards this season, including 1,160 via the running attack. In last Friday’s win over Benjamin Logan
North Union has been very stingy on defense so far this season, posting shutouts the first two weeks and just two scores in a last week’s 41-14 win over Danville.
Hajjar has seen the Cougars use two quarterbacks when looking at the film. Brady King has thrown for 311 yards and three touchdowns while Tristin Cordle has also led the offense.
But the big numbers show up in the running game.
Lane Roberts has totaled 432 yards rushing, including 176 yards on 18 carries last week against Benjamin Logan. He also has tallied six touchdowns. Gavin Higgins has cracked the 100-yard barrier in each of his last two games while scoring three touchdowns.
“They are able to run out of the shotgun,” Hajjar said. “What we see on film is they are playing with a lot of confidence. They have been able to hit some explosive plays.”
Another thing he has noticed on film about Kenton Ridge is the size of its offensive line.
“They are extremely big up front,” Hajjar said. “It will probably be the biggest offensive line we will see this year.”
That size moves over to the Cougars’ defensive front, working for the most part out of a 4-3 setup.
Teams have been able to put some points on the board against Kenton Ridge, accumulating 88 markers through the first three weeks.
Hajjar has been overall pleased with his team performance to open the season.
“We have been able to execute the game plan and as a coach that is refreshing,” Hajjar said, adding that he has been able to use several different combinations that has “given us a little depth.”
Ethan Young has gained 328 yards rushing while Cayden Lassiter has added 201 yards through the air. Young, Evan Hoffer, Lincoln Harrah and Owen Davis have combined for eight touchdowns. Lassiter has totaled four touchdowns through the air.
Hajjar knows the competition is a step higher than the Wildcats have faced so far this season.
“Things move up this week with a very challenging opponent,” he said. “It is a big game with field position, turnovers and special teams being key to getting a win.”