Norwell, ranked No. 7 in Class 3A, roared back from a 21-point deficit to beat Columbia City 45-34 on Friday and complete an 8-1 regular season that saw the Knights finish second to Leo in the Northeast 8.
That's impressive enough on its own, but it's an even greater feat considering where Norwell's program was just four years ago.
In 2015 and 2016, the Knights went a combined a 1-19, including an 0-10 mark in '16, coach Josh Gerber's first season. The turnaround Gerber has led at Norwell has been one of the most impressive in northeast Indiana in the last five years.
"It's amazing to think about," Gerber said. "(In 2016), we had weights in the morning, 6:15, we'd have three or four kids. Before we got shut down in March, we were getting 40 and we were close to 50 a few times. The buy-in of these kids, the work ethic, the sacrifices they've made, it's a big deal. It's not possible without their hard work and it's not possible without the guys I get to coach with. ... It's not been an easy turn and it's taken a lot of guys a lot of hard work and time."
Though the Knights have had a successful season, they haven't yet reached their goals. They want to win a sectional and make some noise deep into the tournament this season.
They've won six straight entering the playoffs.
"We talked earlier in the season, our goal isn't to win X amount of games in the regular season," Gerber said. "Our goal is to get better every week, to win a sectional and to be a tough out in the tournament. We still have a chance to do that. ... We're just going to continue with that mantra."
Interims doing well
SAC interim coaches are now 2-0 in overtime this season.
On Friday, it was North Side offensive coordinator Ben Johnson's turn with the headset as the Legends won 14-7, after going into overtime tied at 7 with Concordia.
"It was amazing, I asked God to help me. I said, 'What would Coach Brevard do in this situation?' And I felt him say something to me," Johnson said, referring to North Side head coach Mike Brevard. "I said, 'Let's do it.' I trusted the kids in that moment, and they came up and made the play."
On the first play in overtime, quarterback Duce Taylor rolled to his right, saw Ja'Suan Lambert wide open running to the opposite sideline, and then threw across his body. Lambert jogged into the end zone untouched.
Earlier this season, Homestead beat Bishop Dwenger in triple overtime with assistant coach Shawn Harkness filling in for head coach Chad Zolman, who was in quarantine due to exposure to COVID-19.