SHORT GAP - Last season, Northern entered their contest with Frankfort in Short Gap with a disappointing record of 1-2; Frankfort, by contrast, was riding high with a record of 4-0. Northern would finish the 2018 season with a disappointing record of 3-6, failing to qualify for the playoffs; Frankfort, by contrast, would finish the 2018 campaign with a record of 8-3 and with their first appearance in the playoffs since 2014.

By Chapin Jewell
Tribune Correspondent
SHORT GAP - Last season, Northern entered their contest with Frankfort in Short Gap with a disappointing record of 1-2; Frankfort, by contrast, was riding high with a record of 4-0.  Northern would finish the 2018 season with a disappointing record of 3-6, failing to qualify for the playoffs; Frankfort, by contrast, would finish the 2018 campaign with a record of 8-3 and with their first appearance in the playoffs since 2014.
Despite these facts, and the disparities of success between the two teams, what Falcon and Huskies fans were treated to in Short Gap a year ago was a classic, close, Frankfort versus Northern battle.  That’s what Frankfort and Northern do, they battle each other as tough as two teams who aren’t natural rivals do.
Northern led Frankfort 6-0 through halftime and late into the third quarter of that game. The Falcons would take a 7-6 lead over the Huskies on a touchdown and converted extra point late in the third quarter. For good measure and much-needed breathing room, Nick Marley scored on a 50-yard touchdown scamper with 6:22 remaining in the contest, extending Frankfort’s lead to eight points, ultimately leading to Frankfort’s 14-6.
Frankfort’s victory actually snapped a three-game losing streak the Falcons had with Northern, with the Huskies defeating the Falcons 52-6 in 2015, 32-13 in 2016, and 34-14 in 2017. Overall, Frankfort enjoys an all-time record of 15-4 against Northern; the Falcons won the first 11 games in the rivalry in a time spanning the years 1983-2010.  Northern’s first win against the Falcons was a 21-14 victory in 2011.
Frankfort’s coach Kevin Whiteman has a 7-2 record all-time against Northern, but is quick to heap praise on Northern’s Phil Carr and the program he runs. “They play us tough every year; I just told my players out there on the field that Northern plays us tough every year, even when we’re heavily favored, it doesn’t matter, they play us tough.  We struggle up there every time we go there,” Whiteman explained.
Northern is off to a fast start this year with a 3-0 record after wins over Brunswick, Tucker County and Clear Spring. The Huskies defeated the Brunswick Railroaders 22-12 to start the season, then tamed the Tucker County Mountain Lions to the tune of 62-0. Last week, Northern grounded the Clear Spring Blazers 33-0.
In total, the Huskies have an undefeated 3-0 record and have outscored their opponents by a combined 117-12, or 39-4 per game.  
Frankfort, with the exception of one hiccup, is also off to a fast start. The Falcons have started their season with a record of 3-1, with that lone defeat being an overtime loss at Weir 28-27.  Frankfort’s three victories are over Moorefield 35-3, East Hardy 41-0, and Berkeley Springs 48-0.
In total, Frankfort, with a record of 3-1, has outscored their opponents 151-31, an average of 38-8 per game.
Currently, Northern is ranked third in Maryland’s 1A West Region behind Fort Hill and Catoctin in playoff ratings points. The Huskies have the seventh highest point total in Maryland’s 1A classification overall.
Frankfort advanced from the 23rd spot in the West Virginia class AA ratings to being tied with Liberty Harrison for the 17th position. In addition, while not in the top ten of the MetroNews Power Rankings, the Falcons are listed among those outside of the top ten who are receiving votes.  
Everyone is aware that the top 16 teams in the final playoff rankings make the playoffs.  Everyone is also aware that Frankfort’s goal is not just make the playoffs but to advance once there. Including this game, there are six games remaining for the Falcons to play in the regular season.
As such, there is time for the Falcons to not only become playoff eligible but to gain enough points to advance higher in the rankings and better position themselves to achieving their goals. Make no mistake, however, every game counts, and as history has shown, in the Northern Huskies, Frankfort has before them an opponent that typically makes it a dog fight, pardon the pun.