New hands on the ball
By By DAN WEISS / Niles Daily Star
NILES -- A scrimmage against some worthy opponents last Friday evening at Cassopolis Ross Beatty High School turned out about as well as could be expected by Niles head coach Dave Janicki.
The scrimmage included Niles, Cassopolis, Constantine, Marcellus and Benton Harbor.
Constantine, the Division 5 runner-up last season, gave Niles a chance to face a productive offensive scheme and also the opportunity for the Niles offense to face a strong defensive unit.
Constantine runs the wing-T offense, which Niles will see from some of its opponents throughout the season, but Janicki wasn't concerned so much with what the Falcons did as what his own players were doing.
The focus on his own team proved useful as Janicki has slated junior Jason Rutkowske as the starting quarterback for Friday's opener at Mattawan.
Rutkowske was the starting junior varsity quarterback last season and the left-hander also played quarterback as a freshman.
Senior Ivery Cross, who was also in the running to start at quarterback, will now start at tight end Friday night.
Cross started at quarterback in the Vikings' 2002 season opener, but played defensive back the rest of the season.
Mattawan has been one of the teams Niles has beaten each of the past two seasons.
Janicki, however, is not about to look past the Wildcats.
Defensively, the Vikings will have to be ready to stop a solid option offense.
On offense, Mattawan is going to try its best to keep the Niles backfield at bay.
The Vikings and Wildcats are set to kick off at 7:30 p.m.