Vikings dominate Lake Mills on the line in win

Published 3:04 am Saturday, August 29, 2009

Few things change from year to year with the Northwood-Kensett offensive scheme and Friday against Lake Mills the Vikings looked very much like the football team that advanced to the state semifinals last year.

The uniform numbers were a little different but Northwood-Kensett was still the grinding force on offense against the Bulldogs in a 16-7 victory to open the season in Northwood.

The offensive line, which returned just a tight end and a guard from last season, was just as dominant as before especially in the second half.

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The Vikings (1-0) controlled the line of scrimmage and held the ball for all but 3 minutes and 36 seconds of the second half as it kept the offense moving and the ball out of the hands of the Lake Mills offense.

“We just were fortunate the second half to be able to make some big plays when we needed to to keep some drives going and were able to get some points,” said Northwood-Kensett head coach Dave Capitani. “We had a lot of first downs that were first downs by a foot or two. Nothing was easy tonight, that’s for sure.”

The biggest first down came in the third quarter with the Vikings facing a third-and-12 from the Lake Mills 47-yard line. Sam Arnold kept the Vikings’ opening drive of the second half alive when he hauled in a pass from quarterback Spencer Capitani along the Northwood-Kensett sideline and brought it down to the Lake Mills 35-yard line — just enough for a first down. Tyson Werner capped the drive off with a 1-yard touchdown run to make the game 16-7 after Jayson Olson completed a two-point conversion. The 10-play drive erased 8:10 off the clock and made it a two-score game with 3:46 left in the third quarter.

The Bulldogs (0-1) had just eight offensive plays in the second half on two possessions. Their first possession ended when Spencer Capitani picked off a Royce Byrnes pass at the Northwood-Kensett 38-yard line. It was the fourth interception for Capitani against Lake Mills in his career after he picked off three passes last season in a 6-0 Vikings victory.

“I picked the same play off last year,” he said. “We play a lot of zone and so it’s pretty easy for us to read the quarterback’s eyes and go for the ball.”

The second possession was a three-and-out after tight end Chris Throne was overthrown on a third-and-7 play.

“We just couldn’t get into a groove there in the second half at all,” said Lake Mills head coach Bill Byrnes. “The defensive guys out there on the line were out there a long time. They made less mistakes than we did and controlled the line of scrimmage.”

The second half was classic smash-mouth football from the Vikings, picking up 3, 4 yards a carry to keep the chains moving.

Olson rushed for 92 yards on 17 carries and Werner scored twice as the ground game looked very much the same, racking up 221 yards, despite losing Phil Fierova, who ran for more than 1,000 yards last season and Ryan Mueller, who rushed for more than 900 yards last season.

“Jayson was kind of our go-to guy tonight,” Dave Capitani said. “That’s the thing, you got four backs that you’re going to have to stop for us because we’ve got four kids in there that can make plays.”

As dominating as Northwood-Kensett was in the second half, the first half was controlled by the Bulldogs and their ground game.

Lake Mills senior Jake Brekken made his first start in the backfield since a foot injury ended his season last year and he looked like the Brekken of old, rushing for 62 yards in the game and giving his team a 7-0 lead on a 2-yard run in the second quarter.

“I thought we played pretty well in the first half,” Byrnes said.

Capitani said his team got a little too cute on offense in the first half by trying to run to the outside more than usual, but once it returned to running between the tackles the offense rolled down the field like fans had seen last year.

“We struggled a little early in the game offensively getting things going and we tried to maybe be a little too cute for us,” Dave Capitani said. “We kind of went back to what works best for us which is sticking between the tackles or running inside a little more.”

The Vikings ran just six offensive plays in the first quarter, but after Brekken gave the Bulldogs a 7-0 lead Northwood-Kensett responded. Werner completed a 10-play drive with a 7-yard touchdown run up the middle and a two-point conversion run by junior quarterback Spencer Capitani made it 8-7. The Vikings missed the initial kick, but a Lake Mills penalty gave Northwood-Kensett a second chance and the Vikings took the lead with Capitani’s run.

“We knew it was going to be a tough, physical game and that’s what it was,” Dave Capitani said. “A lot of smash-mouth football. We enjoy playing that and so do they.”

Northwood-Kensett could have opened the game up later in the first half. The Vikings had two chances from inside the 10-yard line with less than 30 seconds to play, but a pass to Torin Newell in the corner of the end zone fell incomplete.

The Bulldogs had two turnovers in the game, but neither led to any points.

Though the two teams combined for a total of nine pass attempts, Friday’s game pitted two starting quarterbacks with similar backgrounds against each other. Royce Byrnes and Spencer Capitani are both juniors this season and their fathers are the head coach of their teams. Both wrestle together during the winter on the Lake Mills-Northwood-Kensett squad, Byrnes was at 145, Capitani at 140 and they also play baseball during the summer.

Lake Mills hosts Forest City next Friday while Northwood-Kensett hosts defending 1A champion Emmetsburg, a team that beat the Vikings 44-7 last season.