|10/17/2019 3:34:00 PM|
Vikings blast Denfeld, wrap up regular season
Like the White Walkers in Game of Thrones, the North Branch football team took the field on Friday, October 11 and brought with them a quick and bitter wind and blowing snowflakes.
The cold weather wasn’t the only thing the Vikings brought with them to the field. They also brought an offense that Duluth Denfeld had no chance of stopping and a defense that harassed the Hunters offense all night long.
North Branch ended up winning 59-14 in the freezing cold temperatures and moved to 3-4 on the year.
Josh Hindt got the scoring started for North Branch on their first drive, weaving through the left side of the Hunter defense before outrunning the defensive backs on his way to a 60-yard touchdown scamper.
It seemed evident pretty quickly that North Branch was the better team and that Duluth was going to be in for a very long, cold night.
The Viking defense forced a punt on the ensuing drive and Drew VanEerden returned the punt to just past midfield with a dazzling return. In the stat book, it was a 35 yard return, but in reality, he traversed closer to 100 yards as he ran back and forth across the field, juking and jumping his way past multiple Denfeld defenders.
The Vikings made good on the short field, with Austin Sonnek scoring on a four yard touchdown run after NB had moved the ball into the redzone. That stretched NB’s lead to 13-0 after Emma Mohs’ extra point.
The defense again came up big, forcing a Denfeld fumble on their next drive, again giving the offense the ball in Hunter territory.
Sonnek made good on his opportunities again, this time scoring on a 20-yard rushing touchdown. NB led 19-0 and it was barely into the second quarter.
The red tidal wave just kept overwhelming Denfeld, as the defense again got off the field and gave the offense a chance to score.
This time, they went to the air with quarterback Koby Chouinard hitting Gavyn Jensen-Schneider twice, once over the middle and once in the back right of the end zone on a busted coverage by Denfeld. On Jensen-Schneider’s 20 yard touchdown catch, there wasn’t a defender within 10 yards of him as he easily caught the pass in the end zone.
After Mohs’ hit her second extra point, NB was up 26-0 with eight minutes left in the half.
North Branch’s defense came up with another stop with six minutes to go, and they used their ground game to simultaneously chew up clock and yardage.
Eventually, Chouinard called his own number and kept it, dashing down the left side of the Denfeld defense on his way to a 14-yard touchdown, making the score 32-0.
Denfeld did finally put together a drive when they got a 53-yard run from their back, but they didn’t handle the clock or play selection very well with not much time left in the half. Eventually, the tried a run on second down from the five yard line, but when it was stuffed, the clock harmless ticked down to zero, keeping the shutout in tact for the NB defense.
The Denfeld offense had nothing to offer NB again in their first drive out of the half. Hindt hit back-to-back big runs – a 28 yarder and a 14 yarder – to give NB their first score of the second half. Mohs’ extra point made it 39-0 in favor of NB.
Things just got uglier from their for the Hunters. They fumbled on their next possession, and defensive tackle Dylan Witte recovered.
North Branch turned that into another Chouinard rushing touchdown and a 46-0 lead.
The Hunters finally caught a break on their next drive, converting a 52 yard run into a touchdown to break the shutout. Their two point conversion made the score 46-8.
Denfeld’s small cheering section that braved the wind and cold, got another holy when the Vikings fumbled on their next possession and a Hunter defender took it to the house for another quick score, trimming the lead to 46-14.
But, the NB offense calmly answered back, capping off a six minute drive with another Chouinard touchdown run, this one of the 10 yard variety for a 52-14 lead.
Eventually, North Branch brought the subs in, and back up quarterback Andrew Thauwald scored his first career varsity touchdown, from one yeard out. Mohs hit the extra point to punctuate a 59-14 victory for North Branch.
The Vikings ended their season with a trip to Grand Rapids on the MEA-shortened week. They played on Wednesday, October 16 after the Chisago County Press went to print.
The Vikings will likely finish with either the third or fourth seed in their section and host either Hibbing or Duluth Denfeld in their first round of playoffs on Tuesday, October 22. The game will be played at home at 7 p.m.