The Barrie North Vikings swooped away from Orillia Secondary School (OSS) with two victories on Wednesday afternoon in Simcoe County Athletic Association (SCAA) football action.
The Vikings senior boys' football team was the first to the scoreboard almost halfway through the first quarter when running back Ayden Young took a 30-yard run to the house for six.
On the ensuing Nighthawks' possession, the home squad intentionally took a safety backed up against their own goal line to give the Vikings a 9-0 lead.
After the defence made a big stop to start the second quarter, the Nighthawks' offence came to life, moving the ball down to the Vikings' 10-yard line with big runs from wide receiver Seamus McGee and running back Scott Ivancic. Unfortunately for OSS, the drive was stalled short on a third and short and the Vikings took back possession.
Late in the second quarter, the Nighthawks' defence had seemingly made another big stop at midfield, but they were penalized for roughing the passer, giving the Vikings 15 yards and an automatic first down.
Vikings receiver Ethan Westbrooke would make the Nighthawks pay by bouncing off two tackles after taking a short pass to the end zone resulting in six more points for the visitors.
Down 16-0 late in the first half, the Nighthawks, who were operating their offence without a quarterback, had a running back attempt a throw downfield which would be picked off. The Vikings turned the costly mistake into more points, putting them up 23-0 at the half.
The Nighthawks played much better in the second half with running backs Oliver Cooper and Caleb Sawyer dominating the running game. Sawyer scored the first points of the season for OSS with a five-yard run up the middle late in the third quarter.
"It felt pretty good," Sawyer said. "It hurt a little bit because I had Junior (Stinson) pushing me in from behind and I kind of face-planted."
Kicker Mason Bard put the ball through the uprights to add the extra point.
Those would be the only points the Nighthawks would score on the day, taking the 37-7 loss to open the season.
"I feel like it was a good game for us overall even though it didn't show on the scoreboard," Sawyer said. "We were executing our game plan well but just kept getting stopped with a few mishaps."
Middle linebacker and defensive captain, Braydan Gough, expects his team to bounce back from the loss.
"I think we have a lot of fresh bodies who have never played," he said. "I think going forward with more experience we will get better."
Gough says the Nighthawks turned up the intensity in the second half.
"We had a few defensive stops which is great to see," he said. "The offence killed it and we got a touchdown."
The Nighthawks junior boys' football team came out of the gate showing promise. They were led by flashy quarterback Noah Buckindale who took the first play from scrimmage up the field for a 30-yard run.
The Nighthawks took the ball to the Vikings' goal line but were held short on a third-down try.
The Vikings would respond with a long drive that would end with running back Christian Giguere taking a 30-yard run to the house. The visitors would be successful on a two-point conversion, putting them up 8-0.
The Nighthawks would return to the red zone at the end of the first quarter but were once again denied by a gruelling Vikings' defensive front.
Finally, late in the half, Buckindale carried his team down the field and into the end zone on a run to the outside. The Nighthawks failed to add a two-point try, bringing the score to 8-6.
With just under two minutes to play in the half, Giguere once again found a hole in the Nighthawks' defence for a 50-yard touchdown run. The Vikings fumbled the point after try and went into the locker room up by one score.
In the second half, the Nighthawks would find the end zone once more and added an extra point, but it wasn’t enough to ward off a tough Vikings squad who won the game 29-14.
Head coach Nathan Box says the game was definitely a learning experience for the players.
"There are lots of positives to take from the game and lots to work on," he said.
Both Nighthawks' squads will head to the road for the next three games before returning home to Orillia to host Collingwood on Oct. 18. The seniors kick off at 1:30 p.m. with the juniors following at 3:30 p.m.
In other senior boys SCAA football action elsewhere on Thursday, the Bear Creek Kodiaks defeated the Collingwood Fighting Owls, 42-6, while the Eastview Wildcats blanked the Maple Ridge Ravens, 20-0.
On the junior boys side, Bear Creek fell 26-6 to Collingwood, while the Nantyr Shores Tritons beat Eastview, 17-13.
On the SCAA schedule next week, Collingwood hosts the Innisdale Invaders at noon on Thursday, Sept. 28, followed by the junior game at 2 p.m.
On Friday, Sept. 29, Maple Ridge will host Orillia at 1 p.m. in senior action. Orillia's junior squad will be at Nantyr Shores for a 3:30 p.m. start.
Barrie North will host Bear Creek at 2:30 p.m. in senior action, while the junior squads face each other at 4:30 p.m. The Kodiaks are considered the home team in these games as their field is currently closed due to recent upgrades.