No one’s quite sure when Northwestern last started a football season 3-0.
“I was told 1987, but one of my players’ dads played on the ‘87 team and he said that’s not true,” said Northwestern’s second-year coach, Seth Whiting, “so I have a feeling it was probably in the ’60s.”
The trusty website, JoeEitel.com, only goes back to 2002, and it does tell you the Warriors had five 2-1 starts in the last 11 seasons. They will put their perfect mark on the line with a home game Friday against another 3-0 team, Shawnee.
“We’ve eliminated the past,” Whiting said. “We don’t think about it anymore. As far as these kids are concerned, we haven’t lost a game since October of last year. We’ve won five straight varsity football games. We’re 8-5 in the last two seasons so far. The last time I checked, Northwestern has not been at this point in a while. That’s what we’re focused on right now.”
Whiting and the Warriors are keeping their 3-0 record in perspective. The wins are against three Ohio Heritage Conference teams with one win between them: Southeastern (0-3), Northeastern (1-2) and Catholic Central (0-3).
Northwestern’s success starts with its senior quarterback, Hunter Houseman. He leads the Central Buckeye Conference in passing yards (959) and ranks second in rushing yards (469). He has played a part in all but two of Northwestern’s 16 touchdowns with seven passing touchdowns and seven rushing scores.
“We’re excited,” Houseman said, “but we’ve got to keep it rolling through week four and week five and the rest of the season. We’re not satisfied yet.”
Houseman’s favorite target has been senior Max Oakes, who has 25 catches for 465 yards and five touchdowns. He leads the CBC in all three of those receiving categories.
“We like to wear down our opponents,” Oakes said. “We’re in better shape than most people we play. Teams really have to pick up their pace against our offense.”
Senior lineman Luke Ream echoed those comments. Northwestern put in a lot of work in the offseason to get ready.
“We ran and ran and ran,” Ream said, “We’re still running and running. We’re all in pretty good shape.”
Northwestern is confident going into the Shawnee game. Putting the recent past behind it will be important. Shawnee has won the last three games in the series by scores of 58-0, 56-0 and 40-0.
“We’ve got to make sure we stop the run this week,” senior lineman Jaden McAfee said. “If we don’t stop the run, we’re in trouble.”
Northwestern quarterback Hunter Houseman runs the ball in for a touchdown past Urbana’s Michael Haffner. Contributed photo by Randy Hilt