Mishawaka Cavemen prepare for toughest test this season against NorthWood

Published: Sep. 30, 2022 at 12:55 AM EDT
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MISHAWAKA, Ind. (WNDU) - Our Spotlight Game of the Week features two undefeated teams who are vying for a Northern Lakes Conference (NLC) title.

Since Mishawaka joined the NLC in 2020, NorthWood has been unable to beat the Cavemen. And to be fair, that’s a hard thing to do. Just ask the Cavemen’s first six opponents this season.

Mishawaka’s offense has scored 30 points of more in each of its wins and has held opponents to single digits in four of those six wins. But not only has NorthWood scored more points than the Cavemen this season, the Panthers have held their opponents to less points than Mishawaka’s defense.

Mishawaka Head Coach Keith Kinder explained why NorthWood will be the toughest challenge his team has faced so far this season.

“They do everything well, man,” Kinder said. “They’ve got five weapons, not counting the quarterback who has a great arm. They’re just loaded with talent on the offensive side of the ball. (It’s) something that we haven’t seen this year to this degree. They’re going to challenge us vertically, horizontally, every which way. And really, it’s about our spacing, understanding our assignments, and then getting to the ball and tackling.”

Meanwhile, a lot of eyes will be on this matchup, as Mishawaka is ranked No. 1 in Class 5A and NorthWood is ranked No. 3 in Class 4A.

Kinder touched on hoe exciting it is to play meaningful football games this late in the season.

“I think they’ve practiced really well this week,” Kinder said. “We haven’t had any conversations about previous games or previous weeks. The way we’re built is that we focus on the next task that we have in front of us, and so our kids have been very mature this week. We’ve had three really good days of practice. Using today just to kind of sure up responsibilities, make sure we understand what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Mishawaka defensive lineman Payton Jones agreed.

“It’s what you play football for,” Jones said. “It’s the two biggest weeks. All the people are going to be here, all the fans. It’s a good environment. It’s about heart. It’s about playing as hard as you can. We’re going to play harder than anyone out there. That’s just what we do. No matter how much bigger or better you are than us, we’re going to give you everything we’ve got.”

Kickoff at Steele Stadium in Mishawaka is set for 7 p.m. on Friday.

Here’s a look at the NLC standings heading into Friday night:

  1. Mishawaka (6-0, 4-0 NLC)
  2. NorthWood (6-0, 4-0 NLC)
  3. Warsaw (4-2, 2-2 NLC)
  4. Concord (3-3, 2-2 NLC)
  5. Northridge (3-3, 2-2 NLC)
  6. Goshen (1-5, 1-3 NLC)
  7. Wawasee (1-5, 1-3 NLC)
  8. Plymouth (0-6, 0-4 NLC)

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