Northeast Times

Northeast still learning to gel after shut out

North­east quar­ter­back Daquan Bo­han­non rolls out look­ing for an open re­ceiv­er. Bo­han­non threw for 156 yards in the 24-0 loss to Ne­sham­iny. GREG BEZ­ANIS / FOR THE TIMES

Start­Frag­ment

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.

You can reach at jfleming6@msn.com.

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