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November 17, 2018

10/25/2018 3:12:00 PM
North Branch blasts Proctor & Grand Rapids

North Branch 57, Proctor 6
Getting finely tuned for sectional play was nearly as important as a win for the Vikings football team on the MEA-shortened date last week.

The team has been getting better and better throughout the season, but the big games come in November, and the Vikings want to be playing then still.

So, it was a great night for not just a win, but a dominating win for the North Branch Vikings as they crushed Proctor 57-6. Despite sporting just a 1-6 record on the year coming into the game, the Rails were just five days removed from sticking with undefeated Hermantown until the very end in what was a one-score game.

But, the Vikings have been playing their best football of the year that started with a win over Cloquet and has gotten progressively better. They weren’t going to mess around with any dramatics against Proctor.

Sophomore Eric Nadeau punched in two early touchdowns for North Branch that were both capped with two point conversions.

Thomas Wurdemann jumped in on the action and scored his first touchdown of the night on the Vikes’ third possession, and Nick Hunziker scored the two point conversion to stretch the lead to 24-0.

Sophomore Derek Witte saw some of his first significant playing time on offense and scored a touchdown for the Vikings to give them a 32-0 lead after a Dan Hoveland two point conversion.

Proctor managed to get on the board midway through the second quarter, but no matter to the Viking offense that was humming. They scored again before the halftime horn sounded, giving them a 38-6 lead.

Proctor shot themselves in the foot to open the second half by fumbling the kickoff, which gave the Vikings a short field. They cashed in, with Hunziker scoring again to give NB a 44-6 lead.

Before the third quarter was out, the offensive onslaught continued for the Vikings, as Hunziker scored his second touchdown of the game, stretching the lead to 50-6. Drew VanEerden kicked his second extra point of the year to put NB up 51-6.

North Branch capped their scoring with a touchdown from senior running back Mason DeFrance, his first career score.

The Vikings’ were hoping the win would get them a first round bye, but Cloquet beat Hermantown in their season finale, leaving both those schools with just one loss. Despite Cloquet’s loss being to North Branch, the Vikings were still seeded third because of having two losses.

They drew sixth-seeded Grand Rapids in the first round, who they just beat 30-7 less than two weeks ago.

North Branch 52, Grand Rapids 12
North Branch showed the improvement they’ve made in just the last two weeks alone, much less the whole season.

In a win-or-go-home scenario in the first round of sections, North Branch left no doubts and no questions against Grand Rapids on Tuesday, October 23, demolishing the Thunderhawks 52-12.

North Branch jumped out to a huge lead after just one quarter. Conner Hartmann led them off with a six yard touchdown run, but the Vikings missed the two point conversion. But, they got another chance at it when Thomas Wurdemann dashed his way into the endzone from 40 yards out midway through the first quarter. Hartmann got the two point conversion and NB was up 14-0.

North Branch made some redzone errors against Grand Rapids in the first go around 10 days ago, but they weren’t going to make them again. They got another shot at the end of the first quarter, and Wurdemann again hit paydirt, scoring from 11 yards out for the Vikings. They missed the two point try, but were up 20-0 through just one quarter.

Witte, who had gotten his first score of the year in the finale against Proctor, scored again in the beginning of the second quarter, bringing it in from 11 yards out for the score. Hunziker hit DeFrance for the two point conversion to put NB up 28-0.

North Branch’s defense kept holding throughout and giving their offense great field position, and plenty of room to work with, and the offense didn’t disappoint. They kept piling on, this time with DeFrance scoring for the second straight game from five yards out to push the lead to 34-0 before halftime.

By the time the Vikings came out for the third quarter, they started to rest some of their starters for their now inevitable date with Hermantown.

Witte scored once more in the third quarter, NB’s only score of that frame, and DeFrance pushed in his second touchdown of the game early in the fourth quarter.

Dakaari Woods scored a touchdown for North Branch in the fourth quarter too before the dust settled, giving them a 52-0 lead.

The Thunderhawks put up two touchdowns to end the game to break up the defense’s shutout, but it made no difference in the final outcome, NB ended Rapids’ season 52-12.

The Vikings will now head up north for a rematch with Hermantown. The Hawks are  7-1 on the year and beat North Branch 16-6 earlier this season on September 7 in week two. The Vikings were a drastically different team then, and it should be a dogfight between the two squads. Hermantown’s calling card this year has been their stout defense. They’ve given up an average of 9.8 points per game while North Branch is averaging 37.6 points per game since their two game losing skid early in the season.

The game will be played in Hermantown on Saturday, October 27 at 6 p.m.

The winner of the game will take on either Cloquet or Duluth Denfeld in the section championship game in Chisago Lakes on Friday, November 2.

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