Heritage Hills defense stifles North Posey to escape battle of unbeatens still perfect
- Final: Heritage Hills 10, North Posey 0
LINCOLN CITY, Ind. — There were plenty of fireworks during last year’s Heritage Hills-North Posey football matchup.
This year's contest was more of a defensive slugfest Friday night in "The Jungle."
North Posey quarterback Liam Stone, one of the more electrifying players in Southwestern Indiana, was limited to 95 total yards against the Patriots on Friday evening and was also held to 13 rushing yards in the first half. Heritage Hills, on the other hand, came up with clutch turnovers and key stops on defense to remain unbeaten with a 10-0 win against the Vikings.
In last year's matchup, the Vikings won in double overtime as the Patriots were stopped on a fourth-down play at the goal line to end the game. Stone dazzled with a four-touchdown performance in the 2022 contest, something Heritage Hills was determined to prevent from happening again Friday.
After beating North Posey, Heritage Hills extends its all-time lead in the series to 40-12. The Patriots haven't lost to Vikings at home since 2017. Although they're one of the three remaining undefeated teams in Southwestern Indiana, Heritage Hills is hoping to continue playing with the proper perspective.
"It's really always about next week," Patriots coach Todd Wilkerson said. "Those five wins right now don't help us next week when we go to Gibson (Southern). I think it's about pushing these guys to get better every week so that when we get to the tournament, we're playing our best football."
The Patriots' defense limited the Vikings’ explosive run game, which was averaging nearly 295 yards a contest, to a season-low of 134 yards. Stone and junior Jed Galvin each had over 50 yards rushing, with Stone leading the way with a 62-yard performance. But where Heritage Hills thrived the most was making the big plays.
North Posey (4-1) still was driving down the field despite trailing, even nearing the red zone a couple of times throughout the game. But the Vikings couldn't finish those drives because of their miscues, of which Heritage Hills took advantage.
There were some bad snaps by the Vikings that proved costly. One of them went high over Stone's head, resulting in a big loss despite Stone recovering the snap. Another bad snap led to a fumble recovery for Heritage Hills, and a Caleb Schmidt interception in the final seconds ended up sealing the victory.
"I knew they had to make a big play, so my alignment was a bit deeper," the senior Schmidt said. "I saw the ball in the air, and I went up and got it."
"It was very huge," junior Alex Smith added. "It stopped their momentum because they were moving the ball down on us at the end. It really changed the momentum and really gave us the big win we needed."
Heritage Hills also thrived with tackling in the backfield. There were plenty of times Smith and fellow junior Parker Hart stopped a North Posey player behind the line of scrimmage and created negative plays. Hart had a few of them in the first half alone.
"Our linebackers have been really good this year," Wilkerson said. "We did a nice job in situations where we needed to slow them down and putting them in a long down and distance. (But) we've got to get more consistent on D-line. I felt like we had some issues with our defensive line. But when you don't give up any points, that's a good situation."
The Patriots travel to Jewell Field next week to face Gibson Southern in their second Big School division game of the season. The Titans (3-2) took care of business with a 38-10 victory against Southridge, and both them and Heritage Hills remain tied for first place in the division.
Heritage Hills knows the challenge of playing the Titans on their home turf. Its last win in Fort Branch came in 2019, and even that game went down to the wire. But what the Patriots are focused on is improving as a unit each day.
"We've got to start coming up on the ball more and moving the ball better on offense, getting the right blocks," Hart said. "There's a lot we need to fix, but I think it will be a good game."
Courier & Press sports reporter Treasure Washington can be reached via her email, email@example.com, and on X, formerly known as Twitter, @Twashington490.