HOSCHTON - Mill Creek head coach Shannon Jarvis had his football team heading into the 2007 season with a lot of experience and a foundation built to battle in the program's fourth year.
Unfortunately for Mill Creek, its opponent in Friday night's season-opener was another upstart program with a solid foundation just a step ahead of the Hawks.
Paced by an offensive attack and multiple weapons on the ground and through the air, Northview posted a 21-7 win over Mill Creek to kick off the '07 campaign. But it may have been the Northview defense that made the difference in this game.
Northview, out of Region 6-AAAAA, piled up 319 yards of total offense on the evening - 191 in the air on the arm of senior quarterback Justin Tuggle and 128 on the ground with six running backs carrying the ball.
However, the Titans' defense pitched a shutout in the second half against the Hawks and allowed just 73 yards of total offense in the final 24 minutes.
One miscue came on a fumble on the Hawks' opening drive of the second half as the Titans took the lead for good on Tuggle's 13-yard scamper into the end zone to open up a 14-7 advantage.
Northview came right back on its second possession of the half and put together an eight-play, 58-yard drive that culminated in Jake Rice's 4-yard burst into the end zone that put the Titans up 21-7.
Meanwhile, Mill Creek couldn't sustain anything offensively in the second half. The Hawks even took a chance midway through the fourth quarter to get a quick score and went for a blocked punt with the Titans inside their own 20. But Mill Creek roughed the kicker, Northview maintained possession and all but took care of the clock the rest of the way.
"We felt good offensively moving the ball. But we got behind and we got into doing some things we really didn't want to do," said Mill Creek head coach Shannon Jarvis. "Even that first drive in the second half, we're moving the ball and converting, but we had the turnover right there and we just didn't overcome that turnover. I told the team that we had control of the game into the third quarter. We had gotten the momentum and the kids were playing well, but we lost it there.
"But these kids are resilient and we look forward to Dacula, our natural rival, so we'll be ready to go. You know, there were a lot of positives that we haven't had in the past and there's enough to build on. But there are some negatives and we're not there yet."
Northview got on the board first with just 33 seconds left in the first quarter as junior Samoir Patrick scored from a yard out. Carter Rhoad added the extra point and the Titans led 7-0.
But Mill Creek bounced back as junior Zach Landis hit senior Bart Kenelly on a 30-yard scoring pass with 4:18 left in the first half. Brian Heinze added the PAT to tie the game at 7-7 heading into halftime.
Junior Lenny Brooks paced Mill Creek with 71 yards rushing on 11 attempts, but managed just 16 yards on three carries in the second half. Landis finished 10-for-22 for 136 passing yards and a touchdown.
MILL CREEK 7
Northview: Samoir Patrick 1 run (Carter Rhoad kick) :33
Mill Creek: Bart Kenelly 30 pass from Zach Landis (Brian Heinze kick) 4:18
Northview: Justin Tuggle 13 run (Rhoad kick) 5:02
Northview: Jake Rice 4 run (Rhoad kick) :04