September 8, 2004 at 7:20 p.m.
Pine City 0
Five minutes before the game was set to start between North Branch and Pine City last Thursday, Bill Baumann let the cat out of the bag.
“I’ll tell yah, a player to watch is going to be Tony Watters,” said Baumann, the Vikings offensive coordinator. “He’s big, he’s got soft hands, and he’s just an athlete.”
Who? Tony Watters?
If you’re wondering the same thing, let’s fill you in. Watters, a senior, decided to strap on the pads this season for the first time. In the winter, you can find him on the ice as a member of the North Branch hockey team. This fall, he wanted to expand his resume, and the Vikings couldn’t have been happier.
It took exactly two offensive plays for Baumann’s prediction to turn into a cold, hard fact. On second and nine from the Dragon 23 yard line, Tony Beaver dropped back and found a streaking Watters for a 79 yard touchdown. Baumann just smiled. Joel Swanson didn’t mind it either.
“He (Watters) attended out passing camp and we saw some things he was able to do,” said Swanson, North Branch head football coach. “He just brings another threat to our team along with our running game and our other returning wide receivers.”
In a game full of penalties (12) and turnovers (6), that was all the Vikings would need to register their first win of the season.
But, just for good measure, Baumann looking to prove his point once again, called Watters number again. Leading 6-0 in the third quarter, Eddie Meier got the pitch in the backfield and tossed a perfect strike to Watters who proceeded to rumble 60 yards for another touchdown, pushing the North Branch lead to 12-0. The two point conversion was good, bringing the score to 14-0. That was your final.
However, although Watters might have been the most explosive player on the field, several Vikings stood out in their first game of the season.
In the first quarter, along with Watters, the Vikings did the job on both sides of the ball. On offense, senior running back Marc Vanden Heuvel rushed for 21 yards on four carries while Beaver completed three of four passes for 96 yards and one touchdown.
Not to be out-done, the North Branch defense was also dominant, holding the Dragons to 45 yards of total offense in the first quarter, all coming on the ground.
The second quarter was more of the same on the defensive side of the ball. Despite having the ball for more than eight minutes, the Dragons were never able to make it past midfield, keeping the score 6-0 North Branch at the break.
North Branch reigned supreme in the second half as well.
Leading 6-0 in the third, the Vikings defense held their ground again, keeping the Dragons shy of the midfield mark, despite a time of possession that favored Pine City by more than five minutes. To be fair, North Branch didn’t need a lot of time to do their damage. In their second offensive series of the third quarter, Meier hooked up with Watters two plays in, pushing the lead to 14-0.
The fat lady had sung.
Playing with a comfortable lead, North Branch drained the clock down in the fourth with their running game, racking up 57 yards on the ground and 93 total yards of offense. For the game, North Branch outgained Pine City 332-169.
The Dragons only had two offensive series in the fourth quarter and both ended with an interception, both by Al Moore. Moore finished the game with three interceptions and one fumble recovery. Also on defense. Mike Carlson finished the game with 12 tackles and one sack. Vanden Heuvel added 10 tackles.
“The defense did a real nice job communicating with one another our there,” remarked Swanson. “They’re all basically played together for three years so they’ve gotten better at that. Plus, we’re a bend but not break defense. We try to avoid the big play and we did.”
Now 1-0, the Vikings look ahead to Milaca next week at home for their first home game of the season.
North Branch 14
Pine City 0
1 2 3 4 F
North Branch 6 0 8 0 14
Pine City 0 0 0 0 0
NB- Watters 79 yrd. TD rec.
(Kick failed) 7-0
NB- Watters 60 yrd. TD rec.
(2-pt good) 14-0
North Branch statistics:
Beaver- 7-10, 136 yrds., TD
Meier- 1-1, 60 yrds., TD
14 rush, 54 yrds.
Gades- 8 rush, 87 yrds.
Meier- 4 rush, -10 yrds.
Beaver- 2 rish, 5 yrds.
Watters- 4 rec., 164 yrds., 2 TD
Gades- 2 rec., 4 yrds.
Meier- 1 rec., 7 yrds.
Moore- 1 rec., 21 yrds.
Mike Carlson- 12
Vanden Heuvel- 10
Mike Carlson- 1
Matt Carlson- 1
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