OSSIAN – It'd be easy to look at Heritage senior Wil Knapke's statistics against Norwell and say he was a one-man wrecking crew.
Knapke rushed for 124 yards and three touchdowns, caught five passes for 86 yards and a touchdown and even punted twice for a 56.5 per punt average in the Patriots' 40-14 win at Norwell on Friday night.
“We got Wil the ball more this week,” Heritage quarterback Conner Sheehan said. “He's our playmaker.”
“Playmaker” works. But Knapke's far from a one-man crew.
Sheehan completed 17 of 21 passes for 309 yards and two touchdowns. Brenton Lockett rushed 19 times for 79 yards and a score. Ben Gibson caught five passes for 90 yards and had a touchdown called back for offensive holding. Zach Toles caught three passes for 58 yards, including a diving touchdown catch.
Heritage had 537 yards in total offense.
“That's definitely part of our game plan,” Heritage coach Dean Lehrman said. “We don't want anybody to have the opportunity to shut down one kid, isolate one kid and win the game.”
Heritage improved to 1-1 with the win. Norwell dropped to 0-2.
Even so, Norwell coach Jeff Miller said he felt his team improved from their 56-14 loss to Leo last week.
Heritage led 20-14 at halftime, but Norwell back William Gerber (who scored the Knights' first touchdown) nearly broke for a score less than a second before halftime, running 58 yards before being tackled.
Heritage shut down another Norwell scoring threat in the third quarter after a 48-yard pass from Piercen Harnish to Nate Simerson. Harnish, the younger brother of Indianapolis Colts quarterback Chandler Harnish, rushed for 120 yards on 11 carries and scored a touchdown.
“I don't want our kids to think we're going backward,” Miller said. “The improvement from this week to last week was obvious. Was it good enough to beat Heritage? No.”
Miller, who was a standout quarterback at Indiana State in college, was impressed by Sheehan's command of the Heritage offense.
“Sheehan made some throws there where if you put them in those spots, you can't defend that,” Miller said. “He has great timing. One-thousand-one, one-thousand-two, he gets the ball out and hits his spots.”