It was a first game that looked like a first game: lots of penalties, lots of mistakes, lots of lessons to learn.
In the end, the Puyallup Vikings managed to get a victory along with their lessons, taking a season-opening 33-19 home win over the Todd Beamer Titans at Sparks Stadium.
“We knew that we were a young team going in,” Puyallup coach Gary Jeffers said. “We really didn’t know what to expect. I really felt what really got in our way in the first half and a little bit in the second half was ourselves: a lot of stupid penalties that I guess you would expect to see out of young team. So I think that we can go back and clean up on those.”
Puyallup’s troublesome first half allowed Beamer to jump to a 16-7 halftime lead. However, the Vikings took over with a 26-0 blitz in the second half, when they mostly stopped getting out of their own way.
“There’s no doubt that it was nice to have a lead, and the kids were excited about that, but we’re going to learn a lot from this film,” said first-year Beamer coach Darren McKay, who spent the last decade coaching Gig Harbor. “We’ll learn you have to play four quarters.”
Puyallup came out with the kind of opening drive that Jeffers might have drawn in his dreams. Over 15 plays, the Vikings moved from their own 24 to the Beamer 4. However, that’s where Titans defensive back Dashay Ware ended the drive with an interception in the end zone.
The Vikings’ next drive went even further awry, as the snap for a punt went over the head of Brendan Illies, who tried to save points by kicking the bouncing ball out the back of the end zone. However, that was ruled an illegal kick, so the apparent safety was waved off, giving Beamer possession at the Vikings’ 1. Three plays later, quarterback Anthony Allen rolled for the touchdown.
Puyallup broke through on its next possession, with Illies scoring on a keeper from the 5.
However, Beamer dominated the second quarter, recording a safety and scoring on a 15-yard Rob Howard run to take a 16-7 lead at halftime.
“I told the guys at halftime that we need to play within the system,” Jeffers said. “We need to settle down, stop making mistakes; we need to control the things that we can control.”
When the Vikings return to practice this week, they will not lack for discussion topics. On one second-half drive they were called for four penalties in five plays. However, the defense bought the offense time. Finally, the Vikings put it away with a 14-yard touchdown pass from Illies to Hunter Davis, two scores from Justin Janker – a 2-yard reception and a 4-yard run – and a 51-yard run by Howard.
“The kids didn’t quit, and that’s a big improvement,” McKay said. “First time having some guys playing on Friday nights, too. There weren’t a lot of guys who have played on a Friday night before: They’ve been on the sidelines.”firstname.lastname@example.org 253-597-8808 @donruiztnt