Who: Novi at Howell
Where: Howell High School
Records: Both are 0-2 overall, 0-1 KLAA Black
Time: 7 p.m.
Broadcast: 6:50 p.m. Click here for the link.
The Highlanders finished their week of practice indoors, having gone to the field house after thunder cut short their outside practice. Both schools are in the unaccustomed position of being 0-2, and a third loss would put their seasons in jeopardy. “We know this is a must-win game,” senior Nic Tholen said. “We know we can’t go 0-3. That’s just a terrible start. We’ve been working hard this week, harder than we have before, and these guys are really ready to put it to Novi this week.” Howell coach Aaron Metz is expecting the same from Novi. “From my brief conversation with coach (Jeff) Burnside when we were exchanging films, neither one of us are happy with our performances, and think that our teams have a lot more in us than what we’ve shown. So I know he’ll get that out of them, and hopefully we’ll do the same and come out with a W.”
Both teams were charter members of the old Kensington Valley Conference who were split when the KLAA was formed 10 years ago. Novi went to the Kensington Conference and Howell to the Lakes. “It’s always been a good battle, even when I coached at Novi for a year,” Metz said. “They always seem to be competitive, hard-fought games, and i have al oto f respect for coach Burnside and his staff over there. They want to win, just like we do, and they’ll be prepared.” The teams met once in the last decade, a 43-21 Novi win in 2015. Both schools have made the postseason the last two years.
On being 0-2
It’s an unusual position for Howell, which has gotten out to fast starts the last couple of years. Before the season, Metz was talking about the importance of finishing strong down the stretch. Now the Highlanders can’t afford much more than one loss the rest of the way to keep the playoff streak going. “Definitely a gut check,” Howell’s Logan Ward said. “It’s hard going 0-2 and we know we definitely have to turn it around. It’s been one block here, one missed tackle. We’ve been in the right spots, we just haven’t executed.”
“That’s part of the inconsistency of having an inexperienced team,” Metz said. “So that’s the part where after three games, there’s not much inexperience at this point. I think they keep working hard, they believe in each other. We just have to get better, and we have an opportunity against Novi. We’re going to go out and play our hardest, give our best effort and see what happens.”
The Wildcats feature wide receiver Traveon Maddox, who’s being recruited by Division 1 schools, although there might be this catch: He’s already committed to signing with Oakland University to play basketball. “He’s obviously a very good athlete,” Metz said, “but when you have a good athlete like that, it opens other things in their offense. So we have to be ready for that. We have to be careful. Their kids play hard. They always have, dating back to their days in the KVC. They’re physical, and so it’s our opportunity to match that and hopefully beat them at their game.”