Vikings defeat Cherry 46-8

The 4-2 Vikings took a knee during an injury timeout during a recent home game. (L-R) Sam O’Phelan, Owen Anderson, Will Lamb, Rory Bakke, Dylan Works, Andrew Lashinski, Leo Johnson, and Frankie Miller. 
Staff photo/Laurie Johnson The 4-2 Vikings took a knee during an injury timeout during a recent home game. (L-R) Sam O’Phelan, Owen Anderson, Will Lamb, Rory Bakke, Dylan Works, Andrew Lashinski, Leo Johnson, and Frankie Miller. Staff photo/Laurie Johnson Although the winless Cherry Tigers hadn’t given up fewer than 48 points in any of the games they have played this year, they felt they were ready to beat the Cook County Vikings when the two met in Cherry on September 25 for the Tigers’ homecoming game.

The Vikings, however, had other ideas.

After the Vikings fumbled the opening onside kick, the Vikings’ defense was immediately put to work. As Cherry marched toward the goal line, Viking Head Coach Mitch Dorr knew his team needed a big stop or the momentum of the game might stay with Cherry. He didn’t have to worry as senior cornerback Owen Anderson intercepted a pass to kill the drive.

From that point on the Vikings dominated the game, scoring three first quarter touchdowns while heading to a 46-8 win.

“Stopping Cherry on the first drive was huge as they had early momentum,” said Coach Dorr. “After the interception and early score, we kind of took the wind out of their sails.”

The Vikings’ first score came when Viking quarterback Leo Johnson hit Owen Anderson with a perfect 40-yard pass for a touchdown. The extra point kick failed and the Vikings were up 6-0.

After stopping Cherry on its next drive, Johnson again threw a 22-yard scoring strike to Anderson. Andrew Lashinski’s extra point kick was good and the score was 13-0.

Johnson scored the third Viking touchdown of the quarter when he ran across the goal line from one yard out. Lashinski’s extra point kick was good and the Vikings were rolling, up 20-0.

Owen Anderson intercepted his second pass for the day early in the second quarter to effectively kill any hopes of a Cherry comeback. Viking running back Sam O’Phelan ran in from 12 yards out and Lashinski again converted on his extra point to send the Vikings lead to 27-0.

Lashinski took a turn intercepting the Cherry quarterback on the next series and the speedy O’Phelan again was the benefactor, this time running in from 19 yards out as the Vikings used their option running/passing game to perfection.

The Vikings gave up a touchdown late in the second quarter on a trick play when the Cherry center hiked the ball to Hunter Erbo, a big defensive end who rumbled 57 yards down the field to score. Cherry’s other big defensive end, Tim Clement, ran for the two-point conversion to end Cherry’s scoring.

Johnson ran for his second touchdown of the game in the third quarter (kick failed) and O’Phelan dashed in from four yards out with Lashinski hitting his final extra point of the game to end the Vikings’ scoring.

At that point Coach Dorr started to send younger players into the game to give them some varsity experience.

With the win the Vikings’ record is now 4-2, and the transition from 11-man to 9-man football seems to be working well for the Vikings.

“The biggest adjustment has really been like any other year…getting to know each other and getting guys in the right position to be successful,” said Dorr. “Our main emphasis in practice has been on tackling and Coach [Bryan] Carpenter has done a great job installing some new drills in our offensive practices. I really credit our improved tackling to Coach Carpenter and to our seniors who have bought into this scheme.”

Once again Sam O’Phelan led Viking rushers gaining 205 yards on 21 carries, averaging 9.8 yards per carry. Leo Johnson gained 65 yards on 13 carries and Jack Wieben ran for 31 yards on 8 carries. Josh Prom gained 20 yards on 4 carries and Andrew Miller ran for 7 yards while carrying the ball twice.

Will Lamb led Viking tacklers with 3 unassisted tackles and 6 assisted tackles. Andrew Lashinski made 4 unassisted tackles and had 3 assisted tackles while Jack Wieben finished with 4 unassisted tackles and had 2 assisted tackles. Dylan Works and Colton Furlong each finished with 2 unassisted tackles and Riley Somnis, Owen Anderson, Colton Thompson, Leo Johnson, and Andrew Miller each had 1 unassisted tackle.

While the Vikings’ defense adjusted to 9-man offenses early it has taken longer for the offense to come alive, and Coach Dorr’s answer for that revolved around the improved play of the Vikings’ offensive line.

“Right now the key to our success on offense has been our front five guys, Frankie Miller, Dylan Works, Billy Hackett, Andrew Lashinski, and Josh Prom. Our backs have run well, but our front five has really been the key to our rushing game.”

The Vikings take on North Shore rival Silver Bay on Friday, October 2 at home at 7 p.m. against the 4-1 Mariners. Both teams suffered similar losses to the Ely Timberwolves, the Vikings falling 50-21 on September 11 while the Mariners lost 47-15 on September 4. It should be a great matchup of two evenly matched teams as both fight for top positions in the upcoming playoffs.

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