Vikings overpower Reavis in first-ever clash.
Boy, St. Laurence sure knows how to spoil a party atmosphere.
And the Vikings couldn’t have been happier to do so.
Pitted against Burbank neighbor Reavis for the first time ever on the gridiron, St. Laurence players and coaches knew they were entering an energized environment. Even when the game got shifted to Saturday night after bad weather ruined Friday’s kickoff plans, everyone from participants to fans was still anticipating a dogfight.
If anything, the Vikings appeared to wear the underdog’s label going into the road contest. While neither St. Laurence nor the Rams qualified for the state playoffs in 2012, Reavis came much closer to doing so, missing eligibility by just one game.
But none of that mattered to the Vikings once play got underway. The two squads dueled on fairly even terms for a while, but St. Laurence finally put some distance between itself and the Rams by registering 21 third-period points.
The Vikings finished with 44 in all, more than half the total they registered in nine 2012 contests, and returned home in possession of a solid 44-16 win. St. Laurence triumphed just once a year ago, Harold Blackmon’s first season as head coach.
“You can just tell the [increased] maturity level of our players,” Blackmon said. “All those juniors last year, we were fortunate to get most of them back. We’ve had a year to work with our kids, and we went out there and were definitely expecting to beat Reavis.”
One of the guys making that possible was senior quarterback Bob Kelly. After enduring a difficult varsity indoctrination last fall, Kelly has returned as a far more polished field general, a progression made evident by his 256 passing yards and 66 percent completion rate in the opener.
“Bob’s one of our most dedicated players,” Blackmon said. “He doesn’t miss practice and he’s very coachable.
“To see what he went through last year and not give up, and then to see him come out and have a night like this was great. I’m proud of him and I definitely have his back.”
Kelly fired two of his three touchdown passes in the pivotal third frame, the first of those going to Mike Fowler. The 24-yard hookup capped a six-play, 67-yard march that was mostly fueled by Frank Miller’s 37 rushing yards on four carries.
Miller, who’s been switched to running back this year after playing only on defense as a junior, then countered a Rams TD with one of his own. His 55-yard gallop upped the Vikings’ advantage to 30-16 with slightly less than six minutes remaining in the period.
After Reavis gambled on a fourth-down play at midfield and came away empty, St. Laurence delivered a crushing blow when Kelly tossed a 20-yard scoring pass to Eric Sadowski to finish off a five-play, 51-yard trek.
“We’re definitely a balanced offense,” Blackmon said. “Some of our young receivers stepped up and played well, and Frank Miller’s a great kid. I can ask him to go play right guard, and he’ll go out there and do it. A thing like that is refreshing to see.”
So, too, according to the coach was “parents with smiles on their faces,” which was the case when the result became official. Before it did, the Vikings added one more touchdown on Julian Gonzales’ 1-yard run, which followed Matt Gurgone’s fumble recovery at the Rams’ 15-yard line.
Gurgone (six solo tackles, two assists) was one of several notables for St. Laurence on the defensive side. Also chipping in with strong efforts were Tom Lyons (10 solos, three assists), Sadowski (six solos, three assists), Joe Prudden (six solos, two assists), Justin Booker (interception) and Tyler Snee (interception).
As for the remainder of the Vikings’ scoring, Miller’s two first-half TDs and a safety took care of that. Snee’s swipe set up Miller’s second six-pointer, which erased a brief 9-8 edge the Rams held after Tyler Wetzel’s 16-yard scoring reception.
Another group of Rams, this one representing Gordon Tech, will visit St. Laurence on Friday. And long before the Vikings’ next opponent arrives, Blackmon wants his guys’ minds off Reavis and firmly on the business at hand.
“We [need to] understand that it’s just one game,” he said, referring to St. Laurence’s Week 1 conquest. “Having a good week doesn’t mean anything [over the long haul].
“Reavis is a very good team, but we caught them off-guard with a lot of what we were doing. Midway through the summer, I saw this team [of ours] become more confident, but we have to continue to grow and build off this.”
St. Laurence 8 8 21 7 - 44
Reavis 0 9 7 0 - 16
First downs 23 18
Yds. rushing 183 148
Yds. passing 256 129
Total yds. 439 277
Att./comp. 27-18 22-10
Fumbles/lost 0-0 3-1
Had intercepted 0 2
Penalties/yds. 4-45 7-55
Punts/avg. 1-37.0 2-34.0
SL — Safety (bad punt snap)
SL — Frank Miller, 17-yd. run (kick failed)
REA — Jose Estrada, 20-yd. field goal
REA — Tyler Wetzel, 26-yd. pass from Jose Romero (pass failed)
SL — Miller, 23-yd. pass from Bob Kelly (Miller run)
SL — Mike Fowler, 24-yd. pass from Kelly (Eric Sadowski kick)
REA — Wetzel, 34-yd. pass from Romero (Estrada kick)
SL — Miller, 55-yd. run (Sadowski kick)
SL — Sadowski, 20-yd. pass from Kelly (Sadowski kick)
SL — Julian Gonzales, 1-yd. run (Sadowski kick)
St. Laurence Rushing: Miller 9-118, Gonzales 7-30, Novak 6-20, Snee 2-17, Kelly 1-(-2). Passing: Kelly 27-18-256. Receiving: Fowler 4-71, Miller 4-70, Sterna 3-36, Gurgone 2-30, Gamboa 2-22, Sadowski 1-20, Gonzales 1-4, Kolniak 1-3.