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FOOTBALL: WL Northern explodes to the top of the standings

By: Scott Burnstein, October 9, 2012, 9:00 am

Walled Lake Northern is in the midst of a memorable season on the prep gridiron.

Heading into the final two weeks of the regular season, the Knights have already won their first-ever league and city titles and with one more victory they’ll clinch their program’s first playoff berth since becoming a school in 2003

Northern enters Friday night’s Kensington Lakes Activities Association championship game against Hartland owners of an action-packed five game winning streak.

The Knights (5-2) are offensive juggernauts, lighting the scoreboard up for an average of a whopping 50 points per contest.

“Everyone’s having a lot of fun out there and that’s what it’s all about,” Knights head coach, Brett Moore said. “There’s a buzz around the community here that’s never existed before. The atmosphere is just great and the kids are loving every minute of it.”

The good times weren’t there earlier in the season, as Northern dropped its opening two games of the campaign in defensive disasters, 56-54 to Livonia Churchill and 49-42 to Salem, respectively, surrendering 10 yards per play from scrimmage.

My, how things have changed.

Since Week 2, the Knights are averaging giving up just 10 points per game and less than three yards per play, while winning five straight, four of the five coming in massive drubbings within the KLAA Northern Division.

In a battle for first place versus Lakeland last week, Northern torched the Eagles 51-6, surprising pundits and prep fans across the state with such a decimating performance against such a formidable opponent.

Moore’s ball club is stacked with veteran playmakers.

Guiding the Knights’ high-powered offense is senior quarterback Collin O’ Donnell, who has thrown for 1,226 yards and 12 touchdowns and ran for 605 yards and 11 touchdowns so far this fall. One of the most prolific field generals in the state, O’ Donnell was a back-up last season. However, he’s far from green. As a sophomore he started a majority of the campaign due to front-line injuries.

The prior experience is bearing fruit this year and benefiting several of the squad’s many game-changing offensive weapons, such as running backs Matt Kozmalski and P. J. Kern and wide receiver Jake Ginster.

Defensively, Northern’s recently rejuvenated effort is being highlighted by the linebacker tandem of Mike Peer and Aaron Chretion.

“We play fast on both sides of the ball,” Moore said. “The players have a good amount of freedom in our game plan and they take advantage. We’ve been able to minimize our mistakes and capitalize on the mistakes of opposing teams lately and that’s a pretty sound formula for winning football games and making fans and players happy.”

This will be only the third year in school history that the Knights finish over the .500 mark on the football field.