Mitchell Athey of Northwood-Kensett beats a West Bend defender to the corner Friday on his way to the end zone. Athey rushed for 22 yards during the Vikings' 36-18 loss. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
Mitchell Athey of Northwood-Kensett beats a West Bend defender to the corner Friday on his way to the end zone. Athey rushed for 22 yards during the Vikings' 36-18 loss. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Vikings finish strong

Published 11:16pm Friday, August 23, 2013

NORTHWOOD — The Northwood-Kensett football team fought an uphill battle but didn’t give up during its season opener against West Bend-Mallard.

“Effort. That’s what we were looking for,” Northwood-Kensett head coach Dave Capitani said. “We wanted to be ready to play four quarters, and I think we were.”

Brandon Brockman of Northwood-Kensett attempts to break free on Friday from Davey Jergens of West Bend-Mallard. Brockman rushed for 10 yards and was second on the team with 12 tackles. Jergens had 11 tackles for the Wolverines. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
Brandon Brockman of Northwood-Kensett attempts to break free on Friday from Davey Jergens of West Bend-Mallard. Brockman rushed for 10 yards and was second on the team with 12 tackles. Jergens had 11 tackles for the Wolverines. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Big plays by West Bend-Mallard on special teams and defense propelled the Wolverines to a 22-6 lead in the first quarter.

West Bend-Mallard recovered a Northwood-Kensett fumble in the end zone to score the first points of the game. A 15-yard rushing touchdown by Mitchell Athey brought Northwood-Kensett within two points (8-6), but the ensuing kickoff was returned 72 yards by Davey Jergens to give the Wolverines a 14-6 lead.

The first offensive touchdown of the game by West Bend-Mallard was scored with less than four minutes left in the first quarter.

West Bend-Mallard took down Northwood-Kensett 36-18 Friday in non-district action.

After the Wolverines tacked on another score in the second quarter, but then Northwood-Kensett took over.

Josh Einertson of Northwood-Kensett runs around the right side of the line Friday against West Bend-Mallard. Einertson rushed for eight yards on the evening. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
Josh Einertson of Northwood-Kensett runs around the right side of the line Friday against West Bend-Mallard. Einertson rushed for eight yards on the evening. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

When West Bend-Mallard drove near the red zone, the Vikings defense held on fourth and long to head to the locker room with a 28-6 deficit.

“We took that momentum (from the turnover on downs) into the second half,” Northwood-Kensett leading tackler Coleby Bratrud said.

In the final two quarters, the Vikings outscored the Wolverines 12-8, but the hole from the first quarter was too deep.

The Northwood-Kensett defense shined the brightest when West Bend-Mallard tried to tack on points with its first team on its last three possessions of the fourth quarter. The Vikings forced a turnover with a goal-line stand, forced a turnover on downs near the red zone and intercepted West Bend Mallard’s dual threat quarterback Jesse Zinnel on the Wolverines’ final offensive series.

“I felt we were the stronger team at the end of the ballgame,” Northwood-Kensett head coach Dave Capitani said.

In addition to anchoring Northwood-Kensett’s goal-line stand, Bratrud also led the Vikings rushing attack with 108 yards on 22 carries.

“Coleby’s a tough, gutty kid,” Capitani said. “He played big tonight.”

Northwood-Kensett’s defense did not allow any individual rushers to break the century mark, and Zinnel was held to six completions for 119 yards.

“That kid’s a good quarterback… a good runner and a good thrower,” Capitani said. “It’s going to take a good team to beat them.”

Logan Nielsen of Northwood-Kensett tackles West Bend-Mallard quarterback Jesse Zinnel in the backfield on Friday, while Brandon Brockman, right, applies pressure. Zinnel‘s shovel pass was ruled incomplete and the Wolverines were penalized for passing to an ineligible wide receiver. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune
Logan Nielsen of Northwood-Kensett tackles West Bend-Mallard quarterback Jesse Zinnel in the backfield on Friday, while Brandon Brockman, right, applies pressure. Zinnel‘s shovel pass was ruled incomplete and the Wolverines were penalized for passing to an ineligible wide receiver. — Micah Bader/Albert Lea Tribune

Northwood-Kensett planned on using two quarterbacks, but ended up using three due to injuries. Josh Einertson led the Vikings 49 yards passing, including a 22-yard deflection that was caught by Zach Costello for a score late in the third quarter.

Offensively, the Vikings had 11 first downs compared to 10 for the Wolverines.

“Obviously, we’re not happy with losing, but we’re happy with effort and how our kids played,” Capitani said. “We just need to build on it.”

Next, Northwood-Kensett will host CAL Community at 7 p.m., Friday. The game will be CAL Community’s season opener. Last year, Northwood-Kensett won 62-0.