NorthWood looking to reach state finals for first time since 2016

Published: Nov. 12, 2023 at 11:22 PM EST
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NAPPANEE, Ind. (WNDU) - NorthWood and New Prairie hadn’t played on the gridiron in 19 years.

That changed on Friday night, when the Panthers took down the Cougars 38-14 to win their first regional championship since 2016.

“It’s hard to execute,” said NorthWood head coach Nate Andrews after the game. “There’s so many moving parts and pieces and kids and everything, and we play teams that get coached. They have good kids over there. We hope we put enough pieces together through consistency during the week that it shows up on Friday night, but you’re never guaranteed anything.”

NorthWood aired out the ball right from the start. Quarterback Owen Roeder threw for 363 yards and three touchdowns, with 206 of those yards and two scores going to wide receiver NiTareon “Nitro” Tuggle.

“Really just our O-Line. It starts with our O-Line, then us executing on the outside,” Tuggle said after the win. “But most importantly, it’s our O-Line. So, I give my praise to the O-Line and my QB.”

Andrews agreed with his senior wideout.

“Offensive line was tremendous,” Andrews said. “It kept it clean, flat out kept it clean. Allowed guys to get in space.”

Then on defense, NorthWood only allowed one offensive touchdown and caused three turnovers. Joziah Edmond was a one-man wrecking crew, recovering a fumble and intercepting two passes.

This is NorthWood’s eighth straight win and moves them onto semi-state, where they’ll play the Leo Lions.

“One step closer,” Tuggle said. “Staying focused during practice, stacking days in practice and making sure that everybody is on the same page. Just excited for the next round.”

That final four matchup is coming up on Friday, Nov. 17, at Leo.

Meanwhile, NorthWood isn’t the only team here in Michiana that’s looking to punch its ticket to the state finals. Knox (Class 3A) and North Judson (Class 1A) also won regional titles.

Knox will travel to Indy on Friday night to face perennial powerhouse Bishop Chatard, while North Judson also has a tough test on the road at Adams Central.