Despite a few lopsided games throughout the year, the North Branch football team had avoided being shutout on the season. That was until they visited the Princeton Tigers last week. The offense was lethargic in the blowout, just barely cracking 100 yards total.
The defense was prone to quick touchdowns, as the Tigers scored their touchdowns in bursts. The first burst came near the end of the first quarter. Princeton senior AJ Wesloh dashed 29 yards for the first score with just under four minutes left in the opening stanza. Less than three minutes later, senior Cole Warren added to Princeton’s lead with a 19-yard scoring run.
The second burst for the Tigers came midway through the second quarter. After a sustained drive was capped off by a Wesloh one-yard touchdown run with a little over seven minutes left in the half, North Branch committed their only turnover of the game, a fumble that bounced into Princeton’s arms. Junior Devyn Budreau of Princeton made the Vikings pay for the mistake, scampering 25 yards for a 28-0 lead for the Tigers. The scores came 46 seconds apart. Late in the third quarter, Trevor Budreau added a 15-yard touchdown run to cap the scoring at 35-0. Even as Princeton trotted out some back ups, North Branch’s normally potent run offense couldn’t get anything going.
They ended the game with only six first downs on 101 total yards. Princeton had the ball for 30 minutes while North Branch only controlled the clock for 18 minutes. Kodie Koolmo led the Vikings with 58 yards on 14 carries, but the Tigers were content with that because they bottled up the outside for speedsters Tony Denn, Eli Chouinard and Jack Tholen. That trio, all of which have run for over 120 yards at some point this season, combined for 34 yards on 17 carries. Tholen pulled the only reception of the game down, a nine-yard catch.
SECTION 4AAAA PREVIEW The Vikings lost their season finale to Big Lake 27-7, sending them to the fifth seed in Section 4AAAA. They will travel to St. Paul to take on the 3-5 St. Paul Harding Knights for a chance to play the top-seeded South St. Paul Packers. The game will be at Bakken Field at St. Paul Harding on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at 7 p.m.