October 1, 2009 at 8:41 a.m.

Vikings have tough homecoming, drop third in a row

Vikings have tough homecoming, drop third in a row
Vikings have tough homecoming, drop third in a row

With the weather finally giving that first fall chill of the year, the North Branch Vikings wrapped up their homecoming week with a match-up against the 2-1 Irondale Knights.

Forgive the Vikings if they might've just been looking for moral victories in the game, as they have lost to Irondale by a combined score of 110-0 the past two years in this lopsided North Suburban series. However, North Branch was going for more than just a moral victory during their homecoming, they were looking for a memorable upset.

Things looked an awful lot like they had the past few years after the first quarter. Behind a pair of Tim Colwell rushing touchdowns, the Knights sped to a 14-0 lead over the Vikings. Just like they had against Columbia Heights and Fridley in the two weeks prior to homecoming, North Branch spotted the other team early points and spent the whole game playing catch-up.

In the second quarter, the offense came to life to score the first offensive touchdown against the Knights since 2005. A Zack Smith touchdown run was the score, and it was capped off by Brian Grand's extra point. Although the Vikes were able to add another touchdown before halftime, the defense struggled to contain Colwell and the rest of the Knights' offense. The North Branch 'D' gave up two more touchdowns in the second quarter.

One of the highlights before the buzzer sounded for halftime, however, was Grand's record-setting field goal. There hasn't been any doubt at all this year with Grand's power, it's the accuracy some have questioned. Grand, an All-State performer in soccer, lined up for a 46-yard attempt. He booted it and the opposite occurred of what most expected. The line was good, but the ball looked like it might fall just short of the bright yellow uprights. However, it had just enough power to clank off the crossbar and through the uprights.

The late surge left the game at 28-17 heading into halftime, which was a manageable score if the defense could somehow solve Irondale's offensive puzzle.

That was easier said than done, though. Irondale came out in the second half and put up another 14-point quarter, giving them two touchdowns in each of the first three quarters. North Branch's offense came out flat on the other hand, it the Knights enjoyed a 42-17 lead after three quarters of football.

As Irondale starters began to come off the field in the fourth quarter, North Branch got the spark that it needed and added two scores of their own late in the fourth. However, Irondale returned a few starters, and time ran out on any sort of comeback for North Branch. Although the defense finally stood their ground against the Irondale offense, it just wasn't enough to beat the tough Knights.

The offense had a few bright spots in the 30-point performance. Zack Smith kept his phenomenal junior season rolling right along with 19 carries for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Scott Bossard also had a good game, rushing 15 times for 70 yards, and going 10-for-23 for 130 yards and one touchdown through the air. Sean Franks, Luke LeVasseur and Kyle Grote were the beneficiaries of Bossard's strikes. Franks had three receptions for 54 yards, LeVasseur had four catches for 44 yards and Grote had three catches for 32 yards and one touchdown.

On the defensive side of the ball, the senior linebacker tandem of Bryce Hutchings and Erik Chouinard led the team with 10 tackles each. Matt Lutgen had six tackles and one sack, and senior cornerback Ken Broden had five tackles and a sack. The defense forced two Colwell interceptions, with Sean Graff picking one off, and Andy Freel grabbing the other interception.

This week, the Vikings go on the road for the first time in four weeks. They'll travel over to Princeton to take on the winless Tigers in a non-conference match up. The two teams tangled last year, with Princeton winning 28-14, but they also had Phil Klaphake, an All-State quarterback, at the helm. With Klaphake's graduation, the Vikings hope they can break their three-game losing streak and win more than one game in a season for the first time in three years.


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