Goff expects ‘evenly-matched’ game with Northwood

Gary Goff can be forgiven if – only momentarily – his mind drifts to what’s going on north of the border.

While the Tiffin University coach is preparing his charges for tonight’s season opener with Northwood, two former Dragons – quarterback Antonio Pipkin and defensive back Willie Mays – are turning heads for the Canadian Football League’s Montreal Alouettes.

Pipkin, the most decorated quarterback in program history, is getting the most attention.

He made his third-consecutive start for Montreal Friday night. In his previous starts, he had thoroughly outplayed Johnny Manziel (though, really, who hasn’t?), whom he had been backing up before the latter’s injury. Pipkin threw for 300 yards and ran for two touchdowns last week in a win.

Goff was even interviewed for a CFL feature this week.

But Goff isn’t distracted. His team opens tonight against the Timberwolves.

It’s a non-conference game, though the Dragons certainly are familiar with Northwood. They played numerous times when both were members of the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference.

Tiffin – which begins play in the Great Midwest Athletic Conference this season – will look to Nick Watson to lead the program in his second year as starting quarterback.

“At least from the practice standpoint, I think the game has slowed down for him,” Goff said. “He does have some experience behind him, knows what to expect in situations, and I’m hoping he’s learned how to handle the ball in tough situations. He’s matured, he’s grown as a leader. He’s a guy everybody’s going to rally around.”

He also has some big-time help. Star wide receiver Charles Holland is back after an injury-plagued 2017, and Tyler Denton also returns to an experienced and talented receiving corps. And then there’s 1,200 yard rusher DaQuan Hardy and fellow tailback Kyle Brunson, who Goff singled out as having perhaps the best camp of anyone after being hurt last season. And that backs an experienced offensive line.

The Dragons defense will hope to slow down Northwood’s three-year starting quarterback Joe Garbarino, who spearheads a triple-option offense. Garbarino was the Timberwolves’ top rusher and passer last season. He led Northwood to a 7-4 mark in 2017.

“I just want to see us go out there and see us give 100-percent effort 100 percent of the time,” Goff said. “We know it’s going to be a very difficult game; we know it’s going to be a bloodbath. I think you’re gonna see two evenly matched teams take the field.”

Kickoff is at 7 p.m. at Frost-Kalnow Stadium