Northwestern defeats Norland 27-26

Akilah Laster | 10/10/2013, 9 a.m.
There comes a moment in every coach’s career where he/she has to decide between going big or playing it safe. ...

There comes a moment in every coach’s career where he/she has to decide between going big or playing it safe. Friday night, under the bright lights at “The Mecca” of high school football, Norland coach Daryle Heidelburg faced that decision. With 1:09 remaining in the game, after a monumental 35-yard touchdown pass, the Vikings who were two of three on extra-point attempts, went for the gusto.

Unfortunately, the two-point conversion flailed and gave their previously 0-1 district opponents, the Northwestern Bulls, a 27-26 win and new life.

“I knew it was going to be tight,” Heidelburg said of the continuing battle for district placement. “We didn’t quit, [but] we took a step back.”

A step back in district 16-6A means a tie now between the Vikings (2-4, 1-1) and Bulls for third place, where Norland would’ve been able to sit at number one, at least for a week, if they’d won.

“It [would’ve been] another staple win,” Heidelburg said, “and put us in a good place in our district.”

But, in football and in life there are no should haves and what ifs, there are just what is and what happened.

What happened was Northwestern (3-2, 1-1) came out strong scoring on a 37-yard touchdown pass from Trevis McKinney to Jabari Dowling. Their chemistry led to another pass and run score during the third as well. But what was unprecedented, was the consistent play of McKinney who finished with four touchdowns including his own 3-yard scamper into the end zone. McKinney finished with 282 total yards.

“He was just unbelievable,” said Bulls coach Stephen Fields. “I love my team.”

Fields has been riding with his team throughout the season, with hard losses early on, including its first district loss to Carol City.

Continuing with his “bend, but don’t break” motto, Northwestern is not out of the wilderness yet. They have to face Central-the district favorite and a hard-hitting Homestead, who will now be gunning for the Bulls and the Chiefs after two district losses.

“Each week we’re getting bigger,” Fields said. “We stay disciplined and structured.”

Hopefully those factors will help them the next two games as they face nationally-ranked and undefeated Booker T. Washington 6-0 on Saturday at 7 p.m. and follow with Central Friday, October 18th, both at Traz Powell.

While Booker T.’s result is unconnected to the Bull’s reaching the post season, facing the Tornados who have only given up four touchdowns in their last four games, can be disheartening for any opponent.

If Northwestern, can remain poised through the remainder of the season, they may find themselves in a bracket. But it will require tough decisions for Fields as well, whose Bulls are in the same precarious position as the Vikings.

The “go big or go home” showmanship of the Vikings may not be the direction the Bulls want to take, but it may be needed to pull key upsets in the not-so-distant future.