SEASON OPENER … Viking quarterback Hunter Vaculik runs through a hole on a first half carry in a 31-6 win over Elmwood. (PHOTOS BY FORREST R. CHURCH / THE VILLAGE REPORTER)
By: Joe Blystone
(August 18, 2023) METAMORA – With Elmwood coming in off an appearance in the Elite 8 last year and Evergreen bringing in a first-year coach after going 3-7, many of the so-called experts thought opening night at Pifer Field would be a blowout. They were right.
Instead of making excuses why you couldn’t, rookie coach Barry Bock breathed a fresh breath of life into the Vikes from 2022 and found ways they could as Evergreen scored 28 straight points in the second and third quarter en route to a 31-6 rout over the Royals.
“Our focus is that we are a speed-based team in everything we do,” explained Bock postgame. “We knew we had athletes to do that, and we had mismatches with our athletes that we wanted to take advantage of, put them in space and get them the ball.” “In the first half, second quarter especially, we were able to do that.”
After a series of back-and-forth first quarter stops, corner Memphis Lapoint came up with the one that changed the momentum toward the Vikings as with the Royals driving deep into Viking territory, Lapoint plopped on a Brennan Hiser fumble that initiated the Vikings first scoring drive.
“When I got this job we said we need to find somewhere for this guy to play,” Bock said of Lapoint. “We didn’t know where that was right away but all summer and all fall camp he kept stepping up and stepping up and he showed up big today with a big hit and a couple of turnovers for us.”
From that point the Evergreen front led by Diesel Stoykoff and Grant Richardson chased and harassed quarterback Pierson Parsons the rest of the night and Evergreen’s Hunter Vaculik stood in comfort and picked out receivers like he was picking out throwing targets at a booth at the county fair.
“We knew they had a couple of good offensive linemen coming back that were All-Ohio,” Bock said. “We wanted to make sure we kept playing our style of defense.”
“When we wanted to bring pressure, we had some stunts up front and played some games against them and we took advantage.”
“We weren’t sound completely but at the end of the day a win is a win, and we are going to take it.”
Colton Robertson’s leaping 23 yard catch on the sideline past midfield was the key play in a drive that led to Vaculik’s dart on a slant to Riley Dunbar for a 12-yard score to put Evergreen up 7-0 midway through the second.
The Vikes forced a three-and-out and again Evergreen set sail for paydirt, and one more time Vaculik found Dunbar, this one a flip over the top from 28 yards out and a 14-0 bulge with 4:31 left in the half.
Evergreen scored their first two possessions in the third when TJ Johnson slipped out of the backfield on the left side and Vaculik found him twice for scores from 17 and five yards away to double the Evergreen lead with 7:20 to go in the third.
Elmwood grabbed a score with just over a minute left in the period when Parsons hit Micah Oliver from eight yards away, but the Vikings kept the Royals off the board the rest of the night when a Stoykoff sack helped stop one drive and Lapoint’s endzone pick late halted another.
Freshman Alex Mossing, who is a soccer goalie by day and place kicker by night, hammered a 40-yard field goal with plenty of distance to spare for the Vikings last points.
Vaculik went 16-25 on the night for 191 yards. Robertson had the most receptions of those aerials with six that accumulated 63 yards.
Johnson and Max Mossing accumulated 123 yards on the turf in 16 totes.
Parsons did throw for 236 yards, but it took him 48 passes to get that amount as much of the night he was on the run trying to elude Viking rushers.
UP NEXT: August 25 – Ottawa Hills (1-0) @ Evergreen (1-0)
Joe can be reached at email@example.com