Countdown to Kickoff: Northwest heads into new season with valuable experience

Nov 4, 2022; Wichita, Kansas, USA;
Nov 4, 2022; Wichita, Kansas, USA;(©KellyRoss | ©KellyRoss)
Published: Aug. 15, 2023 at 9:11 PM CDT
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WICHITA, Kan. (Catch it Kansas) - Steve Martin is used to teams full of players paying their dues with time at Northwest.

But the 2022 Grizzlies were a different story.

“We were young last year. There’s times we were starting five or six freshmen and three or four sophomores, and that never happens here,” he said.

The end result was what has become expected of Northwest. Their lone regular season losses came in the opener at Carroll and against eventual 6A state champion Manhattan, which also beat the Grizzlies in the postseason.

Northwest led Carroll by 15 at halftime before allowing a Golden Eagles rally in the second half. They also saw strong starts in both games against the Indians fade in eventual losses, leading to a mentality shift this offseason for the Grizzlies.

“This year, we’re gonna make it different. We’re gonna make sure never slow down, we’ve always got that mentality - we’ve gotta step on their throats,” senior receiver Michael Lopez said.

Northwest has the firepower to be able to do so. With senior Jayce Glasper and sophomore Jaylen Mason in the quarterback room, they have a standout running back returning in Cencere Thompson as a compliment to their outside threat in Michael Lopez Jr.

The defensive front seven features multiple Division I prospects. Senior Tre Birch holds a Western Kentucky offer, and sophomore Johnmichael Fountain Jr. recently earned an Iowa State offer.

For Birch, his goal is simple.

“State championship. It’s always been that since we got here, and we don’t plan on changing that,” Birch said.

Northwest opens the season at home against Bishop Carroll on Friday, Sept. 1.