1995 NHS Season Statistics--SECTIONAL, REGIONAL, SEMI-STATE CHAMPS, STATE FINALISTS
Evansville Courier & Press Newspapers ALL CITY/METRO Selections
|Barnes||Nick||P||5-10||180||Jr.||Courier & Press||Both papers|
|Blalock||Bart||OT||6-5||265||Sr.||Courier; IFCA||IFCA "Top 50" All-State|
|Cooper||Deke||RB||6-3||206||Sr.||Courier & Press; IFCA||Player of the Year -- Both Papers; IFCA "Top 50" All-State (DB)|
|Ernspiger||Eric||OG||6-1||270||Sr.||Courier & Press||Both papers|
|Patterson||Joe||LB||5-11||222||Sr.||Courier & Press||Both papers|
|Wilson||Mike||Coach||Sr.||Courier||Coach of the Year|
|Aug. 25||Evansville Bosse||Win 48-7|
|Sep. 2||Evansville Harrison||Win 10-7|
|Sep. 8||Evansville Mater Dei||Win 14-0|
|Sep. 15||Castle||Win 8-3|
|Sep. 22||Evansville Memorial||Win 56-20|
|Sep. 29||Evansville Reitz||Win 35-29|
|Oct. 6||Mt. Vernon||Win 49-14|
|Oct. 13||Evansville Central||Win 25-22|
|Oct. 20||Bedford NL||Win 36-22|
|Oct. 27||Evansville Reitz||Win 21-17|
|Nov. 3||Evansville Harrison--Sectional||Win 28-7|
|Nov. 10||Martinsville--Regional||Win 34-25|
|Nov. 17||Ben Davis--Semi-State||Win 21-14|
|Nov. 25||Penn--State Finals||Loss 13-35|
|player||first||pts||TD||PAT 1||XPM||PAT 2||FG||S|
In six seasons under Head Coach Mike Wilson, North had gone from being referred to as “Agony High” in the newspapers to “Pre-Season Pick to Win the SIAC”. Little did anyone know how low the papers were setting their sights for the Huskies in 1995.
With the graduation of his two year starting quarterback, Coach Wilson planned on moving 5’11’, 172 lb. half back Kareem Neighbors to play behind center. Given the rich stable of running backs on North’s sidelines, the move seemed tailor made to generate a more wide open style of play.
In the season opener, during which North produced one of its most lopsided victories in its series with Bosse, the strategy seemed sound. QB Neighbors directed the offense to 48 points and spread the ball around. After Bosse scored on its opening drive, WR Deke Cooper started a run of seven unanswered North touchdowns when he returned the kickoff 92 yards for a score. Cooper also caught two TD passes from Neighbors, ran a reverse for 31 yards, and intercepted a Bulldog throw. FB Casey Sellers added another multi-touchdown game to his resume along with 112 yards rushing on only nine carries. Tailbacks Ashur Hall and Michael Cooper both contributed scores and it appeared the vaunted Husky offense was set to roll.
North entered week two ranked #10 in Indiana’s 5A division. The defense played up to its ranking by twice stopping Harrison drives inside the Husky 10 yard line. When the game was decided on a 22 yard Field Goal by Jason McCutchan with 22 seconds to play, North was still undefeated but wondering where its offense went in the hard fought 10-7 victory.
NHS moved up to #9 in the following week’s rankings and welcomed Mater Dei into Central Stadium. Even with the advantage that the defense gave the Huskies by providing two fumble recoveries and an interception, North could only manage 14 points against a much smaller Wildcat team. WR Deke Cooper made the most of his three receptions by generating 96 yards receiving including a 63 yard TD. RB William Beverly did manage to break loose for a 43 yard touchdown run, but otherwise the offense appeared sluggish.
The Huskies traveled to Castle in week four and took on a much more physically comparable foe. Four times the Knights drove the ball inside the North ten yard line. All four times North’s defense held the line and only allowed Castle 3 points to show for their effort.
Likewise, the Knights bottled up the Husky offense. Trailing 2-3 with 5:34 to play, QB Kareem Neighbors led North on a 60 yard scoring drive as time was running down. FB Casey Sellers plunged in from the one-yard line to give North a perfect 4-0 record.
Looking for a means to stimulate the offense, Coach Wilson decided to move dynamic wide receiver Deke Cooper to running back. It was a move that defined the season. A calculated gamble, the change ignited the club and the offense would average nearly 47 points per game over the next month.
The Huskies had never beaten Memorial in the Wilson Era. In fact, Memorial had beaten North 13 straight times dating back to 1981. RB Deke Cooper made sure that both of those trends were over turned. In his first game as a running back, Cooper ran wild gaining 203 yards on just 17 carries. He had touchdown runs of 45 and 57 yards. When he wasn’t in the end zone, he was getting the ball close enough to the goal that battering ram running mate Casey Sellers could hammer in three touchdowns from short distance. Utilizing an option attack, QB Kareem Neighbors got into the end zone for the first time all season.
Two undefeated and state ranked powerhouses collided at Central Stadium in week 6. North had improved its ranking to #6 in 5A and Reitz stood at #10. Over 10,000 fans packed the stadium to watch the collision between these two behemoths. What they saw was one of Evansville’s classic all-time football games.
What occurred rivaled the storied ’63 game in which North put an end to Reitz’s city winning streak or the great ’66 comeback by North from 14 down or the ’77 game in which the Panthers held North on the one foot line to stave off an upset. Few who saw the ’95 meeting will forget the games final minutes.
What the fans saw was an uncharacteristically high scoring affair considering North hardly put the ball in the air. Limiting their offensive selections to running the football, the Huskies only passed the ball three times with the only completion being a 2 point conversion toss from RB Deke Cooper to fellow RB William Beverly. Beverly would end up being one of the games heroes.
North roared to a lead thanks to QB Kareem Neighbors’ expert execution of the option play. Calling plays at the line of scrimmage, Neighbors shredded the Panther defense for 126 yards on only 11 carries. He put the ball in the end zone three times himself and handed it off to FB Casey Sellers for one score and pitched to Deke Cooper for another. Reitz, however, had plans of their own and countered with a mix of passes and runs that put them in position to win.
It wasn’t until LB Joe Patterson recovered a fumble with 6:04 remaining that North put together what would be the ultimate winning drive. Neighbors went the final seven yards for the decisive score and the North faithful assumed the game was in hand.
The Panthers took the ensuing kickoff and drove to within the Huskies ten yard line with scant seconds to play and trailing by only 6 points. When Reitz was confronted with 4th and goal from the 5, it took a hit by William Beverly to stop the runners momentum short of the goal line. As the Panther spun from Beverly’s initial hit, he was wrapped up by two more defenders (Nathan Brooks and Casey Sellers) who wrestled him to the ground on the one-inch line. North won 35-29.
Mt. Vernon never stood a chance in week 7. RB Deke Cooper ran for 176 yards in only 8 carries. FB Casey Sellers abused the Wildcats for 122 yards and 3 TD’s on only 9 carries. When Mt. Vernon did manage to score, Michael Cooper ran the kickoff back 74 yards for a touchdown. Mercifully, the bench was cleared for the second half and the Huskies improved to 7-0 with a 49-14 victory.
Being a rivalry game, the Central Bears proved a bit more difficult than Mt. Vernon in week 8. Still the Huskies prevailed with a 25-22 win. QB Kareem Neighbors threw for 142 yards and two scores while Deke Cooper and Casey Sellers both ran for over 100 yards and a touchdown apiece. In winning, North captured its first Southern Indiana Athletic Conference Title since 1966.
The Sectional opened against Bedford North Lawrence and the game was marred by fights and unsportsmanlike conduct penalties. The Husky offensive line again dominated their opponent and Deke Cooper and Casey Sellers both ran for two scores apiece. William Beverly’s 45 yard punt return for a touchdown helped to settle the issue and North advanced to the second round of the playoffs for fourth year in a row.
This time, however, their opponent would be a fired up Reitz Panther ball club that felt like the officials got the call wrong on the 1” line three weeks earlier. When North trailed 14-7 at halftime, it appeared as though Reitz was in the drivers’ seat. Coach Wilson had a chat with his father during the break in which he was reminded of what had worked so well earlier for the Huskies against Reitz.
The second half was a much different story. Running exclusively a triple option attack, the 8,105 fans on hand watched as Kareem Neighbors again ran Reitz ragged with pitches, fakes, and keepers. RB Deke Cooper ran one pitch in from 25 yards out and ended up with 128 yards rushing on the night. He also hauled in another 75 yards on pass receptions and the Huskies advanced to their third sectional final in four seasons with a 21-17 victory.
The Sectional Championship versus Harrison was a bit anti-climactic after the thrilling come from behind victory against Reitz. Although the Warriors and Huskies had battled to a last second low scoring affair in week 2, this time it was all North High. Neighbors ran for one touchdown and threw another to Sellers who also ran one in. Deke Cooper recovered a fumble and ran it in from the 15 and the Huskies added the Sectional Title to their City and SIAC Championships.
In the Regional versus Martinsville, QB Kareem Neighbors and the option offense proved to be much more than the Artesians could handle. Neighbors ran for two scores (including a 78 yard TD run), completed 7 of 9 passes, and pitched to Cooper who skirted the end for 41 yards on another. North had too many weapons and won handily 34-25 for the school’s first ever Regional Championship.
For all their success, the victory only brought the Huskies the confrontation that no one wanted: a ticket to Ben Davis High School against the #1 ranked team in 5A. The prior season, after winning the sectional, North had learned what it meant to play against #1 on the road (versus East Central). They had not advanced but they had learned.
With Ben Davis a heavy favorite, the Huskies wasted no time in taking the fight to the Giants. Beginning with a 12 play, 77 yard opening drive that culminated in a 5 yard Deke Cooper touchdown run, North was ‘in their face’. It also helped that the Huskies got a key ‘bounce’ in the right direction.
When QB Kareem Neighbors went down awkwardly during a tackle, he tossed a lateral out into space and rather than falling haphazardly to the field, the ball bounced directly into the hands of Cooper. The running back never broke stride and ran 25 yards for North’s second score of the game.
Playing against a big, physical team meant exercising all of North’s offensive options and in this case, that meant using Deke Cooper everywhere. Late in the third quarter, North executed a half back option pass with Cooper finding senior WR Tom Bailey for a 28 yard gain. Neighbors then found Bailey on the next play for the decisive score of the game. North never looked back and won its first Semi-State Title 21-14 on the road against one of the state’s biggest schools.
All of which led to an appearance in the State Championship game against the Penn High School Kingsmen. Penn was on its way to winning the first of three consecutive State Titles in class 5A. North, while starting the game slowly, was very competitive until disaster struck in the second quarter. When Penn scored their second touchdown, North fumbled the ensuing kickoff. Penn capitalized and went up another score.
When the Kingsmen kicked off again, North fumbled their second kickoff. By halftime the score was 7-28 and there was no turning the tide. William Beverly’s 10 yard fumble return for a TD and Deke Cooper’s 75 yard touchdown run were not enough to offset 5 Husky turnovers.
Regardless of the outcome, the North Huskies had become Evansville’s first entry into the 5A title game and attained a level of prominence in local athletics that few schools ever achieve. The ’95 Huskies became the ‘gold standard’ of North football teams.
DEFENSE-- 2 pts each for solo, cause or recover fumble, sack, int, blk kick; 1 pt each for assist and tackle for loss
|player||first||pts||solo||asst||tfloss||caus fum||rec fum||sac||int||blk kick|