Saturday, 09 September 2017 00:52

North Meck building momentum

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North Meck's Dantevian Byrd (16) closes in on running back Gabriel Linen Friday. North Meck's Dantevian Byrd (16) closes in on running back Gabriel Linen Friday. Durane Byrd Photography

The North Meck Vikings are 3-0 on the gridiron.

The last time that was the case, it was 2004, and this year’s seniors were still a year away from starting kindergarten.

So yes, Friday’s 16-14 home win over Rocky River resonated a little more for those Vikings of blue.

“It’s good,” said senior linebacker Dantevian Byrd. “I feel like it’s the start of more to come.”

Friday’s victory matched last year’s win total (3-8) and was also the Vikings’ second two-point win of the season, joining the 31-29 win over Durham Jordan on Aug. 18. North beat Olympic 48-20 on Aug. 25.

“It’s very exciting to be 3-0,” said first-year head coach Eric Morman. “Our guys have worked hard all summer, all preseason and all fall. It’s a great feeling to be 3-0.”

Friday’s final result was pleasing to Morman and the Vikings, but he also saw plenty of room for improvement in a game that lasted three-and-a-half hours. Most significantly, North was whistled for seven 15-yard penalties.

“We’re heading in the right direction,” said Morman. “But we’re very honest with them. A lot of things need to be cleaned up.”

The difference against Rocky River came with 2:43 to play when Byrd sacked quarterback Brent Jones for a safety. The Ravens (0-4) had been pinned at their own 1-yard line by a 41-yard Randy Martinez punt. On third-and-7 from the 4, Byrd blitzed from the left, angling in from the outside as lineman JaMonte Gray made a charge up the middle. With Byrd unblocked and bearing down on him, Jones had nowhere to go.

“I just saw a gap, saw he had the ball, closed my eyes and hit him,” said Byrd.

It broke a late 14-14 tie, but the Vikings were not in the clear just yet. They drained the clock to 13.1 seconds on their ensuing possession, leaving the Ravens with the ball at the North 37. But Jones’ completion to John Park on the final play ended with a gain of 13 to the 24.

North senior running back Emanuel Wilson ran 23 times for 160 yards, and his 34-yard touchdown run in the third quarter tied the game at 14-all. His 7-yard scoring run in the second quarter gave North a brief 8-2 lead, after Rocky River picked up a first-quarter safety following an errant snap on a Viking punt.

But the Ravens answered immediately with an 88-yard kickoff return by James Maye to tie it at 8-8, and a 2-yard Jones touchdown run just before the half gave the Ravens the 14-8 edge.

Now, there is one final non-conference game on North’s schedule: next Friday at 1-3 Cox Mill. The Vikings just want to continue improving and winning. They’re having fun.

“The momentum is going all throughout the school,” said Morman. “We’re just trying to lay a foundation with what we want to be.”

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