My comma key is broken on my keyboard for some reason so I apologize if this is hard to read. Really good football game I got to watch on a Thursday night. Salem made a game of it in the end but Northside was able to come away with the win. Northside is a very good football team and I honestly feel like they still have room to improve quite a bit more. They are pretty decent up front and have what I believe is the best QB on this half of the state. They have a solid running game with a good running back and a quarterback that is a bit time running threat and they have a QB receiver combination (Jackson/Fisher) that is nearly impossible to stop when they need to convert. They have a very good blocking TE/H back that is also a receiving threat and a few other talented guys out wide as well. I was probably most impressed with the way their skill players blocked all game. Great effort and really sent a message to the young Salem secondary. Northside is talented offensively and they are also very diverse. They use a ton of different formations and even have the ability to go two tight ends and pound the ball. When it comes to execution and play calling this was one of the most impressive offensive performances I have seen against a Salem defense in a long time. I think they are pretty good on the defensive side as well. They put 9 in the box early and shut Salem's running game down pretty well the entire 1st quarter. They struggled more as the game went on after Salem started hitting a few passes. Overall they team has very good depth is they do not play very many players both ways. It isn't often that you see Salem have way more two-way starters than their opponents. For Salem I saw a lot of encouraging things. The difference between sophomore QB Chaney from getting thrust into the Dinwiddie game last week after Gladden's injury to tonight was very impressive. He and the coaches did a very good job of being ready to play tonight. Early on he had a few passes batted down on quick throws and a drop. On Salem's third drive he threw a perfect bomb but Salem's sophomore receiver Collins slowed down initially and misjudged the ball. They would like to have that play back as it was wide open and would have been a touchdown. I was very impressed as the game went on with Chaney's arm strength and accuracy. He made a few poor decisions but played very well for his first start and far exceeded what I expected. Collins had a rough start to the game on both sides of the ball but rebounded very nicely and made some huge plays down the stretch. As for the offensive line I thought they played pretty well. It was hard to run the ball early because Northside had 9 in the box but once they got a little offensive balance they really started hitting their stride. Their trap game was excellent... especially out of the split back. Persinger had a very good game running the ball. He isn't big and runs way too high but he still manages to surprise me and break a good amount of tackles... big game running and a long KO return touchdown. The defense certainly struggled against a very good offense but I still see a bright future. The five starting secondary players are four sophomores and a freshman and it is unrealistic to expect them to be great against that offense. Northside picked on the freshman Logan but some of the third down conversions were plays you can't defend with that level of execution. I'm talking about hitch routes and speed outs that are thrown so early and the Fisher is getting his head around and the ball is right on top of him. The play that was the most discouraging was giving up a 94-yard touchdown on third and 15. The youth really showed that play with a bit of a miscommunication and just not understanding the down and distance. The Salem DL had an up and down game. They had plays that they completely blew up and at times were all over Jackson but they got pushed off the ball on a lot of short yardage situations and just disappeared on some critical pass plays where Jackson had all day. It is tough for guys like Close and Cardwell to play both ways all game in this type of situation. They got worn down some and that is understandable. Northside ran a lot of wide zone to take advantage of their perimeter blocking and it was both successful and very effective in gassing the Salem defense. Pinello is a big LB and played a good game but his strength isn't moving sideline to sideline and that was solid game planning by Northside on several fronts. Salem will really look back on the two turnovers they had the were self-inflicted. They had a turnover on a center/QB exchange and another one on the QB/RB exchange and those proved to be huge plays. Salem fans getting really upset with the officials for not calling some holds on those outside zones but I thought the officials did a good of letting them play for most of the night. There was definitely some trash talking and heated moments but I enjoyed that aspect as the players still seemed to respect each other. Close lost his cool a few times and I know exactly why (I am looking at you #71 for Northside) but he needs to control that moving forward. To be honest he was the less guilty party for most of the game but the other guy was WAY sneakier and give him credit for that as it is part of the game. Congrats to Northside... you can just see how much this game meant to the players coaches and fans. They are going to feel this game tomorrow as they took some shots in this game... especially in the second half but they will know it was all worth it. They are going to be very tough to beat this year... I actually believe they might be the best team in 3a. They have almost no weaknesses some huge strengths and are extremely well coached. I am still so surprised that a high school team was able to utilize that many different formations and run them with equal success. That is a ton of hours by a ton of people and it is paying off. Salem has to regroup and play yet another tough game when Blacksburg comes to down next week. This team might have some more struggles this year but they still could be dangerous come playoff time... if they make it.