COVINGTON -- Alcovy and Northgate may not be the biggest teams in Region 3-AAAA, but they proved that they are the best as the two clash in the region championship game at 7:30 p.m. on Friday at Northgate.
While both teams are similar in size and the ability of their skill players, that's where the similarity ends.
"They're a well-disciplined football team and that's because they have senior leadership. They start like nine seniors on offense and I don't know how many on defense. These are kids that have played together for a couple of years," Alcovy head coach Kirk Hoffman said.
"Right now we have a year's experience. We're young, there's no doubt about that. When you get to your 10th ball game, you just have to line up and play every down as hard as you can."
Northgate's 9-0 record, 6-0 in Region 3B-AAAA, is good enough to be ranked No. 9 in Class AAAA by PrepCountry.com/GACA coaches poll.
The Vikings are averaging more than 35 points a game while holding their opponents to about 11 points a game. While impressive, that does not mean that all they have to do is show up to win.
"We're going to have to play a good football game. You're not going to go out and play a game for a region championship and not play well. If you don't play well you're going to be in trouble," Hoffman said. "It's like I told the kids the other day, 'You're going to play a good football team. They're 9-0 for a reason and they're playing for a region championship.' But I feel we are, too. Early we struggled but we battled through some things and we found a way to get on that win streak. Now we just have to line up and play Friday night."
If Alcovy (6-3, 5-1 in Region 3A-AAAA) is to claim the top prize of the No. 1 seed and knock off a top-10 team, the defense is going to have to slow down an explosive Northgate offense -- a tough task for a young team against a senior-laden squad.
"Their timing is excellent. They don't make a lot of mistakes. We're going to have to be disciplined and not give up big plays," Hoffman said.
The Tigers won their side of the region by running the ball and throwing when they have an opening or to keep the defense off-balance. Since they've been successful doing that, why change now? All they have to do is improve on what they've been doing.
"If you talk to anybody about Alcovy they're going to say 'Devon Edwards, Tre Sorrells, Cornell White (and) Kenard Murray.' It goes back to our goal of getting better every week. Now we have to find a way to get better for that first playoff game," said Hoffman.
"Another thing about Northgate is that it's such a nice play to play. I thought the atmosphere against Whitewater was outstanding," said Hoffman. "I think it'll definitely get us ready for the playoffs."
Alcovy is used to playing in stadiums with good football atmospheres having played Griffin and Starr's Mill on the road before. However the real question is: are they ready for the challenge?
"Are they ready?" asked Hoffman. "I don't know if anybody can tell you if 15-, 16- or 17-year-olds are really ready."