Sports

Junior Vikes almost score upset

Junior football fans were treated to a classic "it doesn't matter if

you win or lose, it's how you play the game" last Saturday, as the

Sno-Valley JV Vikings (2-3) narrowly missed upsetting the Bellevue Knights

(4-1). Although a victory would have iced the cake nicely, the spirit and

growth displayed by the Viking squad was sweet dessert to the players,

coaches and parents. After weeks of subtle improvement, the Vikings played a

complete game against a quality opponent.

The Vikings took the opening kickoff at their 30, gaining nine

yards before being forced to punt. Chet Schroeter's booming punt

was fumbled by the Knight return man and recovered by tight end Jessie Salopek.

The Vikings then drove methodically into Knight territory, capping

the drive with an 11-yard TD run by tailback Adam Rothgeb. Key

blocks by Salopek, offensive tackle Markus Harris, offensive guard Daniel Lee

and wide receiver Anthony Vasquez freed Rothgeb; and the Vikings were on

the board. A blocked PAT left the score 6-0.

Disaster struck on the ensuing kickoff. The bouncing ball froze

the Viking defenders just long enough for the Knights' return man to break to

the outside for a 65-yard return for a TD. A failed PAT knotted the score at 6.

The Vikings' offense took over at their 48 after an inspired return

by Schroeter. The Vikes moved the ball to the Knight 30, but turned it over

on downs, and with nine minutes left in the half, the defense finally took

the field. Three plays later the Knights were forced to punt.

Sno-Valley's Cody Hudson returned the punt to the Knights' 38 and the Vikings were

back in business.

On second down, Rothgeb gained 26 of his 98 yards, again freed by

a Salopek block. On first down, Schroeter hit TE Mitchell Dietz,

giving the Vikings their first aerial score of the season as Dietz bulled the

final five yards with a defender hanging onto his shoulder pads. A

successful PAT by Dusty Hensley pushed the score to 14-6.

The Knights took the ball at their 43 with just over seven minutes

remaining, and the Vikings played "bend, but don't break" defense

to wind out the half. The defense was led by the inspired play of rover

Cody Hudson; at one point, Hudson was involved in seven straight tackles,

five of which were unassisted. For the day, Hudson was involved in 60 percent

of the tackles made.

The Knights opened the second half with a sustained drive from

their 45. Several open-field tackles by cornerback Jason Rothgeb appeared

to have the Knights stymied, but an overly aggressive Viking defense

allowed a Knights' runner to reverse his field and weave his way to a score

late in the third quarter. A successful PAT retied the game at 14.

The Vikings were unable to capitalize on a terrific return by

Schroeter to the Knights 25, putting the defense back on the field after four plays.

The defense again bent, but stopped the Knights in the shadows of the

goal post. The offense was unable to move the ball and a punt gave the

Knights the ball at midfield. On second down, the Knights caught the Viking

defense off-guard with a halfback pass, which resulted in a touchdown and a

Knights' 22-14 lead, with just under four minutes remaining.

The Vikings moved the ball deep into Knights' territory before

again giving the ball back on downs. A critical clipping penalty on the Knights

put the ball on their 12 with one minute on the clock. The ubiquitous

Hudson again rose to the occasion, gobbling up a botched handoff to give the

offense one more chance to tie the game.

On first down, Schroeter went back to his favorite target for the

afternoon as Dietz hauled in the pass and blasted through three defenders to

the 2, stopping the clock for a first down. Adam Rothgeb burst up the middle

for his second TD of the day to close the score to 22-20. A rush of

Knights foiled the ensuing PAT, clinching the victory for Bellevue.

Although the game was lost on the field, everyone involved was

pleased with the effort shown by this young team. The Vikings test their

new-found prowess against a powerful Kirkland (5-0) at Juanita High School on

Saturday.

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