The Vikings traveled to Harrisburg last Friday (March 19) for their third football game of the season. Both teams came into the game in the hunt for their first win at 0-2, but the Vikings proved unstoppable for the Eagles.
Coach Sam Johnson said that after last week’s defeat by Santiam Christian, going into this third match-up of the season at Harrisburg, “Our main concern was making sure we played a full game start to finish.”
This mentality was clearly in the forefront of the players’ minds as the Eagles won the coin toss and immediately put Siuslaw on defense at the start for first time this season. Camp Lacouture’s kick was solid, with the Vikings not only holding the Eagles but pushing them back an additional 10 yards by the fourth down before turning the ball over on their own 40-yard line.
On Siuslaw’s first possession of the game, Elijah Blankenship threw a 40-yard pass to Braydon Thornton who, wide out, broke free and caught the ball for the Vikings’ first touchdown of the game. Blankenship then handed off the ball to Skyler Loomis, who ran it in for a 2-point con-version.
Less than three minutes into the game, the Vikings were up 8-0.
On the next possession, the Eagles again struggled to gain any yards, turning the ball over on downs and putting the Vikings back on offense. From there, Blankenship ran 39 yards for a first down, then followed with a quick 20-yard pass to Lacouture to make it 14-0 with 6:30 left in the first quarter.
In just four offensive plays, Siuslaw had already scored two touchdowns. On the conversion play, Thornton came in from the far side to take a handoff, cut inside and nab the conversion for a 16-point Siuslaw lead.
The Eagles continued to struggle against the Vikings’ defense and, once again, turned the ball over on downs.
Back in the pocket, Blankenship nailed a 17-yard pass play to Thornton for another first down. Lacouture and Loomis each carried for five-yard gains, securing another first down. Blankenship then hit connected on another pass, this time to Isaac Garza, who got inside the six-yard line to make it first-and-goal. Lacouture carried to put Siuslaw on the one-yard line, with Blankenship finding Thornton on the far side for another TD and a kick for the extra point from Lacouture.
With 3:02 still remaining in the first quarter, the Vikings were up 23-0.
After holding the Eagles on the ensuing possession, Siuslaw took over with less than a minute remaining in the quarter.
On the first play of the possession, Beau Erickson ran a handoff in for touchdown, only to have it called back for an illegal block on the Vikings. The penalty forced Siuslaw back to first and goal at the 15-yard line. Another flag for a holding penalty on the Vikings was called, pushing them back yet again — this time to the 30-yard line. Following an incomplete pass, Siuslaw ended up at second-and-30 as the quarter ended.
But the Vikings came out to begin the second period the same as they did the first, with Blankenship throwing for a 30-yard touchdown to Lacouture on the first play of the quarter. Lacouture’s then kicked the PAT for 30-0 Siuslaw lead.
On Harrisburg’s next possession, the Eagles fumbled on the second down, with Lacouture snatching it up and running it in for the score from the 20-yard line. Lacouture’s kick sailed be-tween the uprights for a 37-0 lead with 10:42 left in the half.
The Eagles first down of the game finally came on their next possession, on a 42-yard run from quarterback Chase Gallegos, who was brought down by Siuslaw’s Erickson and Garza.
Harrisburg gained eight more yards on the next play and then, with 5:21 left in the half, scored their first touchdown. But the Viks stopped the conversion attempt, holding a 37-6 lead.
The Vikings scored again on their next possession, an a 27-yard reception by Thornton in the end zone. Lacouture kicked the extra point to put Siuslaw ahead 44-6 heading into the half.
With a healthy lead, Johnson opted to switch Erickson in at quarterback, where he remained for the entire second half.
Despite the penalty, the Vikings kept pushing the ball up the field on their possession, and a handoff to Hunter Petterson at 6:20 secured Siuslaw another touchdown. With his kicking game fully on point, Lacouture scored another extra point, bringing the score to 51-6 and forcing the clock to run for the remainder of the game.
Both teams scored once more in the game, first on a pitch from Erickson to Petterson for a 19-yard run into the end zone, followed by the PAT from Lacouture with 6:20 remaining.
Then, with 1:21 left on the clock, the Eagles drove to within five yards of the endzone, and Gallegos ran it in from there for the final score, 58-12, and a resounding victory for Siuslaw.
“I think the high point for me was just watching our kids fly around finally and play with a chip on their shoulder,” said Johnson. “Defensively, our kids played with a sense of urgency and were willing to do their jobs and trust the other 10 guys on the field to do theirs.”
Offensively, Johnson said he saw then players finally relaxed and trusting in each other to make plays. “Our line controlled the line of scrimmage and our skill position kids made plays,” he said.
The Vikings have two games left in the season and, at this point, Johnson has been able to reflect on how far his players have come.
“So far this season, this group of young men have faced a tremendous amount of adversity and continued to put in the hard work,” he said. “This group of young men are learning how to win on and off the field.”
The Vikings play next at home against Sisters on Friday (March 26), beginning at 7 p.m.