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Football: Northside vs Van Buren

FOOTBALL: NORTHSIDE VS VAN BUREN

Without a doubt, there should be a lot of emotion involved when Northside lines up against Van Buren today. For one, it will be the first time Van Buren coach and Northside alum Greg Werner goes up against his alma mater. "I don't think the uniforms are the same; they've got new ones since I played so that's a little different," Werner, who played for the Grizzlies in the mid 1980s, said. "I think if it was probably closer to when I played there and there would be some people I knew from today, it would be a little different. But I've still got a lot of Northside at heart, so it's a good deal, I've got nothing but great memories of Northside. But I'm just looking forward to the opportunity (to play the Grizzlies)." The Pointers, who are having their home opener, are also going to honor the 20th anniversary of their last state championship squad. In addition, today's game marks the renewal of a backyard rivalry between two former conference foes, who are playing for the first time in this decade as both the Grizzlies and Pointers seek to bounce back from season-opening losses last week. "They're much, much improved," Northside coach Mike Falleur said of Van Buren. "What they do on offense makes it tough on you because you don't see it very often, they're happy with getting 3 or 4 yards and get you in third-and-short, so we've got to be very disciplined, we've got to be very hard-nosed and it's going to be a tough football game. ... I love what they do on offense, so it's a challenge." If there's one order of importance for the Pointers this week, it will be attempting to take care of the football. Van Buren lost five fumbles in the Pointers' season-opening loss at Alma last week. "We're just going to have to hold on to the football, we fumbled seven times last week. ... So we worked a lot on ball security and taking care of the football and making plays in the red zone," Werner said. "We had the ball inside the 1 twice and fumbled, so we talked a lot about the red zone. We also can't give up the big play, I felt like we played very good defense last week other than missing some big plays, so it's been a huge point of emphasis." As for the Grizzlies, they are seeking a much better start than last week. In their season opener against Greenwood, the Grizzlies fell behind 19-0 in the first half. "Number one, you've got to take that Greenwood's a very good football team," Falleur said. "When you play a very good football team, you can't come out and make the mistakes we made defensively and give them 19 points before you ever really get started. I was proud of our kids in the fact that we dug ourselves a deep hole and we were fighting our butts off to get out of it and got really close to doing that, so that's the positive. "Offensively, it's going to sound crazy, but I knew early that it was going to be a struggle because of the amount of the new offensive linemen we have playing and going up against a very good defensive front in Greenwood, so as the game wore on, I thought offensively they played pretty good and I was really proud of our offensive line and the way they played. They got better as it went on, and so we've got to continue to get better, we can't go I think it was four series before we moved the football, so we can't do that and survive." Falleur added he wants to continue to get his offensive skill players, particularly Tre Norwood and Derrick Wise, more involved. "We're going to try and get Tre a little more on offense than what he got (last week) and Deuce (Wise) a little more on offense because they both play a lot of defense but they're still going to have to do that," Falleur said. One advantage the Pointers may have today is they have had a little bit longer break to heal, since they played Alma on Aug. 30, a Tuesday. Werner added he was able to give his players a day off, which he feels helped them recover even more. "We kind of had a long break because we played on that Tuesday night, so we were able to get some kids healthy that were beat up a little bit after the game," Werner said. "So we're healthy and we feel like we're ready to go.

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