cat-sports

Tuesday, 10 October 2017 17:17

North Meck motivated by last year's heartbreak

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Emanuel Wilson, above, ran for 267 yards against Hough last year. Below, Damon Early races for the game-winning score. Emanuel Wilson, above, ran for 267 yards against Hough last year. Below, Damon Early races for the game-winning score. ChrisWissell.com

North Meck lost eight games a year ago, but if there’s one that stung a little more than the rest and still does, it’s the 35-28 loss at Hough in late October.

The Vikings played possibly their best football of the year, scoring 28 points in just more than 13 minutes of the second half, and were in position for an upset when the Huskies made a play to win it.  

“That’s the game we’ve got to get back,” says Viking lineman JaMonte Gray, now a senior. “I dropped tears for that game because it didn’t feel good at all.”

The Vikings are having a much different year in 2017 and will try to remain unbeaten — and possibly get a little revenge in the process — when Hough visits Friday for a 7 p.m. kickoff. There’s more on the line than simply the rivalry, too. North (7-0) and Hough (5-2) are each 3-0 in the I-Meck 4A and tied at the top of the conference standings with Mallard Creek. Together, the Vikings and Huskies have won 12 straight games. Now their focus has shifted to each other.

“I was ready Sunday night,” says Gray.

North trailed Hough 14-0 at the half last season before going on a tear offensively, as its defense forced Hough into three straight three-and-outs. Viking running back Emanuel Wilson, now a senior, had a stellar night, rushing for 267 yards on 36 carries.

But with the score tied at 28-all with four minutes to play, Hough defensive end Damon Early picked off Jaelan Anderson and ran 59 yards for a touchdown. It was an odd play because Early was right at the line of scrimmage with little time to react, and Anderson had not lobbed the pass. He had fired it.  

“It’s one of those things you don’t see,” says North’s Dantevian Byrd, then a junior. “I was like, ‘Wow, this is really going to happen.’ It was a great play by him.”

Early, previously known for his athleticism on the basketball court, was also surprised at how the play unfolded after he got his hands on the football. There were Vikings all around him.

“I thought I’d be down right there, but two teammates blocked for me, and I just turned it on from there,” he says.

North tried to answer the momentum-stealing play and had time. The Vikings drove to inside Hough’s red zone, but ultimately came up empty, and Hough escaped with a win that then-coach Miles Aldridge said his team was “lucky” to get. The opposing Vikings, he said, had “out-toughed” Hough and played well.

The Vikings certainly think it’s a game they let slip away. They hope to make up for it Friday.

CMW 3078

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