Young Vikings fight through loss of a leader to
win season opener
As the National Anthem concluded and the coaches cleared the field, Viking Assistant Coach Kyle Bigham, 31, collapsed in front of the visitor’s bench. In full view of hundreds of dazed Viking faithful, a doctor, a firefighter and an emergency room nurse worked with members of the coaching staff to resuscitate Bigham while the ambulance stationed 50 yards away took an achingly long five minutes to meander over to the scene.
After 15 minutes of treatment, an unconscious and unresponsive Bigham was placed in the ambulance and rushed off the hospital as onlookers wept.
It was decided and rightly so that the game must go on. It seemed odd at first, but the Vikings were the visitor, and hundreds of fans and students had gathered. Further, there was absolutely nothing anyone on the field could do to help Bigham at that time. Cancelling the game would’ve left tons of distraught and concerned teenagers with no constructive way to assist their coach or to let out their emotion. It goes without saying that if you asked Coach Bigham he would’ve absolutely wanted the game to go on.
And go on it did. At least for Mariner. For the first 12 minutes, it appeared that any hopes of a Viking victory had left with Coach Bigham. The game was only a quarter done, but the Vikings already trailed by three touchdowns.
After Mariner’s electric Senior receiver Tevin Dillon shredded the Viking secondary for his third touchdown reception to end the first quarter, Lake Senior RB Bo Dickinson ripped off a dazzling 100 yard kickoff return to bring life back to the Purple and Gold squad.
Dickinson fielded the ball at midfield, ran up the gut, busted through two arm tackles and broke into the clear. At midfield, he juked past the last line of defense and jetted to the score. The sleeping giant was awake.
The kick return proved to be the ignition spark to Coach Tom Tri’s new no huddle spread attack. Senior QB Nick Baker had started slow in the first quarter, going 2 of 5 passing for only 14 yards and one interception. From that point forward, Baker was nearly perfect, going 12-14 passing for 186 yards and three touchdowns. The two incompletions were drops.
Lake scored 27 unanswered points in the second quarter, including a 33-yard fumble return for a touch down by Dickinson, and a 75-yard Baker to Trevor Riecks touchdown strike.
At half, a fired-up Joe Cronin (Defensive Coordinator) told his troops not to let up. Coach Tri told the offense that if they wanted to win, they would need to score on the second half’s opening possession.
And that’s just what they did. In awe of Dickinson’s open field abilities, Mariner elected to squib the second half kickoff. Coupled with a penalty, and the Vikings started at midfield. Baker reeled off a couple lasers to Senior TE Eric Huswick, and displayed improved mobility on an 11 yard QB scramble.
Eventually, the drive stalled after a dropped pass, and the Vikes faced third and goal from the three yard line. Baker dropped back to pass, and under extreme pressure in a collapsing pocket, he rolled right - only to be confronted by a blitzing linebacker. Baker pirouetted back to the left, and lofted a pass towards the end zone - but the pass was tipped by a leaping Mariner defender. The ball fluttered high in the air...and into the waiting arms of Senior WR Colton Tupen. Touchdown, 33-21.
Mariner fought back for two scores, and the Vikings answered with a 21 yard field goal. The game remained close throughout the final quarter and ultimately came down to one defining stand - 30 seconds left, Mariner at midfield - only 25 or so yards away from game winning field goal range. The Viking defense held - and on fourth down, Senior CB JJ McCarthey laid an impressive open field tackle for a loss on Mariner star RB Adrien Black - and the game was all but over.
Across town, at the Colby campus of Providence Hospital, Assistant Coach Kyle Bigham had he known the result of the game would no doubt be proud of the strength, resiliency and effort his players expended when faced with extreme adversity. The score of a high school football game means nothing when compared to the health of an individual, but there wasn’t a single thing the Viking players could’ve done off the field at that moment to help Bigham, so they expended their energy and emotion in an effort to make him proud and carry out the lessons that he helps to teach on the practice field every day.
As of press time, Kyle Bigham was in stable condition but remained unconscious due to medication. The cause of his ailment is not known. For more information on Bigham and Viking football, visit the Purple and Gold Pigksin blog.