9/13/2012 9:40:00 AM Despite offensive strides, Vikings still lose 60-28
To the left, Zack Sundly and the offense got the chains moving with their rushing attack. To the right, a big reason they could move the ball was because of pancake blocks like this from senior captain Jake Schmitz.
By JEFF NORTON
Football is a multi-faceted sport. You can’t just be good at one thing and expect to win, especially in the North Suburban Conference. Although North Branch vastly improved on offense from their season-opening 55-7 shellacking to Spring Lake Park, they still struggled mightily on defense in a 60-28 loss to Robbinsdale Cooper. Against SLP, the Vikings didn’t manage a first down until midway through the third quarter. Against Cooper, the Vikings matched the Hawks opening scoring drive with a touchdown of their own, and despite being down by 20 going into halftime, they already had two scores on the board. Their defense was shredded by Cooper’s running attack. Cooper has been young for a few years and was building towards this year as their big season. They broke off big play after big play against an overmatched NB defense. Six of Cooper’s touchdowns were from 20 yards out or farther and five of them came from 37 yards or farther. Senior bulldozer Billy Kellogg opened the scoring with a 15-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. North Branch answered with an eight yard touchdown run by senior quarterback Zack Sundly and took a 7-6 lead after the extra point. However, Cooper ripped off four straight scores, including a 53-yard touchdown by Ashanti Payne, an 11-yard fumble recovery for a score, a 60-yard run by quarterback Briceon Scott-Burch and a 37-yard scamper by Kellogg.
The Vikings actually answered back with two touchdowns of their own, getting one on a three-yard dive by Ashley to close out the first half and another on a one-yard dive by Sundly early in the third quarter. That left the Vikes down 34-21 in the third quarter. If their defense could find a way to lock up the Cooper ground game, the game was still in reach. Unfortunately, the Hawks just kept churning yards. They put together three straight scoring drives, capped off by a 41-yard touchdown run by Payne that put the game out of reach at 53-21. Each team added another score to their tally, but it was moot at that point.
The last North Branch touchdown was scored by Eli Chouinard. The ground heavy attack featured over 700 yards rushing total. Cooper eclipsed the 400 yard mark and North Branch passed the 300 yard mark. The difference was in Cooper’s ability to strike from anywhere on the field. They didn’t need to string together a ton of plays to find the end zone, they could score from anywhere. For North Branch, the game was definitely progress, but it still leaves a lot to be desired, especially on the defensive side of the ball. Next up for the Vikings is St. Francis. Despite being the defending conference co-champions, the Saints were hit hard by graduation. They are 0-2 on the season having lost 33-13 to Irondale in the opener and 19-6 to Park Center last week. They do have a junior running back that is averaging just over 120 yards a game rushing, so he will be the focal point of the North Branch defense this week that has to improve for the Vikings to win the contest.