September 16, 2010 at 9:51 a.m.
"It's tough to be 0-2 after having two games that were so close," Head Coach Justin Sawyer said after his troops have lost their first two games by a combined nine points. "But we're going to keep fighting."
This week, though, North Branch took a different way to their defeat. After grinding out yards all night on the ground against St. Louis Park in their season opener, the Vikings took to the air a little more against the Titans, and it proved to be effective.
The move to the air and the offense leaning heavily on quarterback Scott Bossard came because Tartan watched Vikes' senior tailback Zack Smith trample all over SLP the week before. That came at a price, as the Titans keyed in on Smith, limiting him to only 48 yards on 19 carries for the game.
But, with the brutish Bossard carrying the load, North Branch looked poised to win their first game of the year. After Tartan had the only score of the opening quarter, North Branch responded back in the second quarter with a Bossard touchdown run. With Tony Ceroll back at the kicking helm after missing the first game because of a soccer match the same night, North Branch evened the score at 7-7 going into halftime.
Both teams traded touchdowns in the third quarter, and North Branch looked like they may be headed for another overtime contest. But, Tartan struck for the final time in the game to go up 21-14, and North Branch didn't muster up enough offense the rest of the way.
"This was another back and forth game with some key missed opportunities," Sawyer mentioned. "We had a lot of opportunities in the game, but we just shot ourselves in the foot too often with turnovers, penalties and missed assignments."
On the game, Bossard was eight-for-19 for 134 yards and one touchdown and one interception. He also ran for 84 yards and a touchdown on 23 attempts.
Junior Brett Klun led the receiving corps, grabbing three balls for 45 yards. Jared Houle had three catches for 34 yards.
Although Smith was neutralized on offense for the most part, he wreaked havoc on the defensive side of the ball, gathering 15 tackles and one interception on the night. Junior Carl Neumann had eight tackles and an interception on his night.
"We just have to go back to work this week and try to clean things up a little bit for next week," Sawyer pointed out. "There is a lot of football left to play this season, and we will continue to work hard to improve each day and week."
The Vikings will need to show off that improvement next week when they take on unbeaten rivals Chisago Lakes. The Wildcats are coming off of a 20-7 win over Spring Lake Park that followed a 35-28 win over Academy of Holy Angels in the first game of the season. "The Wildcat utilize a strong running attack and an aggressive defense," Sawyer said of his upcoming opponents. It will be a special game for Sawyer, as his first career coaching victory came last year against the Wildcats in a wild upset that opening up the 2009 season.