Labor Day weekend marked the beginning of the high school football season for the Northeast Vikings and their new head coach, Jim Adams. The former assistant led his team onto the field against traditional suburban power Neshaminy High School (of the Suburban One League) on a picture perfect Friday evening for football.
The Vikings, still mixing and matching parts and looking to establish their identity in what has been labeled as a re-building campaign, were matched up against the mighty Redskins — a preseason Southeastern Pennsylvania top 10 ranked squad. As evidenced by the opening drive, Neshaminy was looking to make quick work of the Vikings. The Redskins, who won the toss and elected to receive, charged down the field in just five plays, culminating in a 15-yard scamper by QB Justin Andrews for the game’s first touchdown. The scoring drive took little more than two minutes off the clock.
Northeast opened offensively with senior Daquan Bohannan under center. Unfortunately, the strong-armed 6-foot, 180-pound versatile quarterback was sacked on the team’s opening play. After an uneventful three and out, Neshaminy was penalized prior to the Vikings punting the ball away, resulting in an automatic first down for Northeast. Despite being given a fresh set of downs, the Vikings could not capitalize; instead, the Vikings committed three penalties during their nine-play drive, consistently halting any offensive momentum. The series ended in a turnover after a Bohannan completion was fumbled away.
Northeast quickly regained possession after a Neshaminy fumble. The Vikings once again failed to capitalize and had their ensuing punt blocked. The Redskins, starting their possession on the Northeast 35-yard line, kept the ball on the ground in the capable hands of RB Nate Hall (eight carries, 115 yards). Vikings sophomore defensive back Gladimir Paul halted the drive when he deflected a pass in traffic causing an incompletion on third down. The Redskins were forced to punt, but Northeast continued their inconsistent offensive play. Marred by two more holding penalties and a failed punt attempt (a high snap), the Vikings gave the ball back on their own 40-yard line. Six plays later, Neshaminy added three points on a Nicholas Tucci 26-yard field goal.
After another three and out for the Vikings, Neshaminy struck again. The Redskins drove 54 yards in nine plays, as running back Denny Lord carried the pile across the goal line from three yards out. The extra point stretched the Neshaminy lead to 17-0. Northeast’s final possession of the half mirrored many of the problems that had plagued their offensive drives for much of the night. A Bohannan pass to fellow senior David Pulliam resulted in a big gain, only to be called back for offensive holding. One play later, the half ended after another Viking offsides penalty.
Northeast went into the locker room down 17 points.
The Vikings took the first possession of the second half and quickly turned the ball over on downs after another high snap resulted in a failed punt attempt. Neshaminy took over in excellent field position, and it was evident that a quick score would put a dagger in the hearts of the Viking players. Instead, senior Devon Dillard came up with a big defensive play to hold off the Redskin charge. Dillard picked off an Andrews pass in the red zone and gave the home team a badly needed jolt of energy.
Northeast showed signs of life by employing their hurry-up offense. Unfortunately, a long completion was sandwiched between yet another offsides penalty and an ineligible player downfield call, with the latter negating another big play by tight end David Pulliam. Faced with a fourth and long, Coach Adams switched punters and brought in Tyler Gormley to handle the kicking duties in an attempt to spark the beleaguered special teams unit. Gormley connected on a good punt that gave the Viking defense a little breathing room.
With one minute remaining in the third quarter, Neshaminy took possession at midfield and drove eight plays in four minutes for the final score of the game as tailback Blake Sullivan barreled in from one yard out behind a powerful offensive line surge. The extra point made it 24-0, an unflattering score that would stick until the end.
With just nine minutes left on the fourth quarter clock and down 24, Northeast was forced to abandon the run in favor of a no-huddle aerial attack. Neshaminy’s defensive line proved to be too much for the Viking offense. The Redskins sacked Bohannan twice in the final frame and forced three incomplete passes. Neshaminy controlled the trenches throughout, totaling six sacks for the game.
When the final whistle blew, Neshaminy had prevailed, as most had predicted. In fact, the Northeast offense had failed to reach midfield the entire game,
However, the Vikings found several reasons to be optimistic coming into this week’s familiar opponent in Abraham Lincoln. First, the defense held strong despite often being forced to defend a short field. With their backs against the wall in the second half, the defense only relinquished seven points. After the game, Coach Adams expressed his pleasure at how hard his players fought.
“The kids kept playing,” he said. “They played hard to the end and they really fought through the frustration.”
Offensively, Bohannan, showed off a strong arm and the potential to lead the Vikings hurry-up attack (he finished 13 for 21 for 156 yards and rushed 11 times for four yards).
“We have the talent,” an optimistic Bohannon said. “But we still have to gel as a team.”
Pulliam was also a bright spot for the Vikings, moving well off the ball. He was tough for the Redskins to bring down despite having two big completions wiped out due to penalties. Dillard (55 yards) and Johnathan Diaz (46 yards) each had four catches for the Vikings.