Halloween approaches but the 2009 Viking football season has long since turned into a nightmare. Down, because of injuries and transfers, up to four starters before the season even opened, the casualties have mounted throughout the year and the toll mostly includes key personnel. (For a complete Viking injury report see Kevin Hulten’s Purple and Gold Pigskin website).
Latest Viking to go down is senior Tyler Reside, who suffered a season-ending concussion and neck stinger after he hauled in a 41-yard pass from Jake Nelson in the second quarter of Lake’s 28-14 loss at Oak Harbor last Friday.
The loss, which did not change Lake’s playoff status, seemed almost secondary to the post-game injury report. Lake (3-2 in Wesco North and 4-4 for the season)with a lineup peppered with reserves, needs to beat Snohomish on Friday to nail down a second place berth for the Playoffs. If the Vikings lose they will be relegated to the league’s third place berth (unless Oak Harbor upsets undefeated Marysville, which is extremely unlikely).
The difference between Wesco North’s second place and third place berths? Second place plays at Bethel in the opening round. Third place plays at Skyline. Bethel would be a formidable opponent but nationally-ranked Skyline is the one team in the state that Lake would like most to avoid.
If that weren’t motivation enough, Friday’s game has some historic importance as the last game to be played in Lake’s home stadium before the new one opens next year. As if playing Snohomish weren’t motivation enough -- the Panthers have had Lake’s number in recent years, and even though this is Snohomish’s poorest season in recent memory this is a “big rivalry” game which should be close and intense.
At Oak Harbor, gusts of 30 to 50 miles per hour buffeted the field throughout and impacted the pass-happy offenses of both teams. Despite its injury-depleted lineup Lake was in contention all the way, but a key two-touchdown turnaround in the third quarter essentially decided the outcome. After Lake, trailing by a touchdown, came up inches short on fourth-and-goal, Oak Harbor’s Luke Felkner completed a third-down screen pass to Marcus Jordan. Three Viking defenders had their hands on Jordan at the line of scrimmage but he broke loose and outran Lake’s secondary for a 96-yard touchdown, believed to be the longest opponent’s touchdown pass in Viking history. Lake rallied to cut the gap to a one-touchdown deficit later in the game but could get no closer.
Four lost Viking fumbles (Oak Harbor lost none) proved to be too much for Lake to overcome.
Sophomore quarterback Nelson played the entire game, completing 10 of 19 passes for 150 yards and no interceptions, but he was sacked 5 times for losses totaling 60 yards and Oak Harbor twice recovered his fumbles.
The wind made a mess of things for both teams. Viking punter Vasya Bogdanoff, who came into the game averaging 38 yards per punt, averaged nine yards per kick for his four punts, one of them for negative three yards. The wind helped Oak Harbor gain great field position for the entire first quarter but Lake’s defense was able to force three Ryan Fakkema field goal tries (from 58, 42, and 47 yards) all of which failed despite his kicking with the wind at his back.
Oak Harbor scored first, a 42-yard, eight-play drive aided by a 15-yard Viking penalty, with Felkner scoring from the one-yard line. Fakkema added the PAT kick: 7-0, with 5:31 left in the half.
Lake scored at 2:57 before halftime. Following Reside’s 41-yard reception Brennan Frost ran for 11 yards, followed by runs of 12 and three yards by Brandon Belcher, the latter for a touchdown. The PAT was botched by a high snap. 7-6, Oak Harbor, which proved to be the halftime score.