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Norse, Squires battle in search of fourth wins

BY JACOB RUDE - sports@wabashplaindealer.com

For the second week in the season, the football fields in Wabash County will host intra-county showdowns. Manchester and Northfield will square off with matching records while Wabash will look for its first win against undefeated Southwood.

Also of note heading into the week, both Manchester and Northfield saw early-season losses overturned. Bluffton was forced to forfeit wins over both programs due to use of an ineligible player during the two contests. Because of that, both the Squires and Norse hold 3-1 records.


Northfield (3-1) vs. Manchester (3-1), 7 p.m.

Last week: Manchester win at Peru, 34-31; Northfield win vs. Tippecanoe Valley 27-7

After struggles to start the season, both the Northfield and Manchester football teams enter tonight’s contest on win streaks of three games. Including the forfeit wins over Bluffton, both sides come in not only on streaks but winners of each Three Rivers Conference (TRC) on the season.

Manchester’s Delton Moore enters on a red-hot tear. After managing just 30 yards in week one to Southwood, Moore has racked up 723 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground over the last three weeks. Moore is averaging 8.1 yards per carry on the year and an eye-popping 188.3 yards per game even despite the week-one performance.

Along with Moore, Devin Marcum has seen success through the air this season since opening the season poorly. After four interceptions in the opener, the Squire quarterback has thrown for 449 yards and four touchdowns in the last three weeks with Trey Clark emerging as his top target.

The Norse have seen their own quarterback guide them this season with Levi Fulkerson throwing for 332 yards and a touchdown while rushing for 222 yards and six touchdowns.

Braden Ripplinger and Graydon Holmes have rushed for 190 and 108 yards, respectively, on the year with the former scoring twice on the season.

In last year’s meeting between the two sides, Northfield trounced Manchester in a 70-22 win. The win, though, is a rare win in the series for the Norse historically with the Squires holding a 26-5 advantage over the last 30 years.

Under head coach Brandon Baker, who formerly coached the Squires, Northfield is 3-2 against Manchester with one of the defeats coming via forfeit in the 2015 season after Northfield won the game 65-6.

Northfield enters with a Sagarin rating of 38.95, 25th in Class A, while Manchester’s rating of 27.68 ranks them 43rd in Class 2A.


Southwood (4-0) vs. Wabash (0-4), 7 p.m.

Last week: Southwood win at North Miami, 28-6; Wabash loss vs. Maconaquah, 48-20

Wagoner Field will be host to two sides coming in on entirely separate paths. The Apaches are still searching for their first win of the season while the Knights have yet to drop a contest.

Defensively, Southwood remains one of the top teams in the state, having allowed just 13 points through the opening four games of the year for an average of 3.25 points per game. That mark ranks the Knights sixth in the state in defensive average and third in Class A.

Offensively, Southwood has featured plenty of Gabe Lloyd on the season. The junior back has 644 yards on 107 carries with six scores in the four games. Tristin Hayslett and Alex Farr have rushed for 137 and 129 yards, respectively, for a combined five touchdowns.

In the series between the two sides historically, Southwood holds a commanding 36-6 advantage over Wabash that features a current 10-game winning streak. The last Wabash win came in 2007 when the Apaches knocked off Southwood on the road 14-13. Since then, Wabash has only once lost by fewer than two touchdowns.

The Apaches have seen Jared Holley step up under center with Devin Higdon unable to play due to injury. Holley has 475 yards with five touchdowns and three interceptions this season through the air with another 259 yards and three scores on the ground as well.

Logan Vander Velden and Payton Sodervick have been nearly identical on the season as receivers. Vander Velden has 21 catches for 277 yards and three touchdowns while Sodervick has 22 catches for 276 yards and two scores.

Wabash has averaged 21.3 points per game but has allowed 38.5 points per game defensively with the 28 points allowed at Alexandria being the lowest on the season.

Wabash’s Sagarin rating of 23.31 slots them 53rd in Class 2A while Southwood’s rating of 60.64 ranks them sixth in Class A.