An American automaker describes one of its models as “Ram tough,” but it may want to reconsider that slogan.
Better yet, perhaps the company should think about introducing a Vikings brand. That’s because, for two weeks running, a group bearing that name has been tougher than sets of Rams.
One week after scoring an emotional victory over Burbank neighbor Reavis, St. Laurence drove past Gordon Tech. Like their namesakes before them, this latest collection of Rams was victimized by a third-quarter onslaught.
This time, the Vikings erupted for 23 points over that 12-minute stretch, an uprising that staked St. Laurence to an 18-point advantage at Kavanagh Field. That was enough to get the job done, as the Vikings posted a 36-12 triumph in their home opener Friday night.
While St. Laurence’s overall performance didn’t rate as high a grade as their display the week before, at least in head coach Harold Blackmon’s eyes, there was something to be said for the Vikings’ ability to win a game sandwiched between two higher-profile contests.
In addition to meeting Reavis for the first time ever on the football field, St. Laurence’s early schedule included an encounter with traditional Chicago Catholic League Blue power St. Rita. That game takes place Friday at Pat Cronin Field.
“We kind of warned them about the letdown game [in Week 2],” Blackmon said of his players. “You kind of tend to overlook Gordon Tech in that situation, but they’ve got some talented players over there and they’re a pretty tough team.
“We constantly reminded [our guys] of the position we were in last year and how we didn’t want to be there again. It was not a perfect game, but we’re just working hard. No matter what happens from here on out, I hope people see that discipline means more than talent at this level.”
The Vikings notched the lone score of the opening half midway through the second period, when Bob Kelly culminated a seven-play, 66-yard march by completing a 17-yard touchdown pass to Andy Gamboa on a fourth-and-11 play. Senior tailback Frank Miller (20 carries, 143 yards) highlighted the possession with 50 rushing yards on just three totes.
The Rams made only minor rumblings through the first 24 minutes. One series ended with Joey Garcia’s fumble recovery, while their last one of the half concluded at the St. Laurence 17 when time ran out on them.
Any missed opportunities were magnified, though, when Eric Sadowski’s 23-yard field goal began the Vikings’ third-period point blitz. His 45-yard kickoff return enabled the home squad to open its initial series in Gordon Tech territory, and things just went downhill from there for the visitors.
Miller (5 yards) and Julian Gonzales (9 yards) both produced touchdown runs, which offset one by the Rams’ Howard Williams (52 yards), then Sadowski made his presence felt on defense by scooping up a Gordon Tech fumble and returning it 36 yards for a score.
That latter play was set up by Tom Lyons and Frank Tomaskovic, who combined to force the drop. Lyons (six solo tackles, one assist) and Sadowski (seven solos, four assists) were St. Laurence’s statistical leaders on the prevention side.
As for the offense, Kelly’s 12-yard pass to Pete Kopacz successfully completed a 13-play trek that ate up nearly seven minutes of the fourth quarter and served as the final nail hammered in by the Vikings. St. Laurence ended the evening with 260 total yards, which included more than 100 both rushing and throwing.
“There were moments in the game where we got tested adversity-wise,” Blackmon said. “We had a few dropped passes — Gordon Tech intercepted one and a couple [others] led to third-down stops — but we have to pass the ball. We told the players, ‘We’ll continue to grind the game out.’
“I think they had playing-at-home jitters. They wanted to do so well I think they were becoming tense, [but] it was good to at least finish strong. I think our kids are in good shape and got stronger as the game went on.”
Blackmon also liked the fact that Kelly was willing and able to spread the ball around. The Vikings lost their would-be primary receiver Kevin Wierzgac to injury before the season, but thus far they’ve made up for his loss with variety — seven different St. Laurence players caught at least one Kelly throw on this occasion.
Matt Gurgone and Miller led the way with two receptions each. One of Gurgone’s was a 43-yarder that preceded Gonzales’ TD.
“We miss Kevin as a teammate, but everyone has to pick up for Kevin in his own way,” Blackmon said. “You never know whose number is going to be called.”
Several Vikings were dealing with a bout of flu that left them in a somewhat weakened state. Blackmon is anticipating a full return to health by the time St. Laurence has to tangle with the Mustangs.
More importantly, he wants his athletes to continue to exhibit the confidence that’s been built over the first two weeks of the campaign.
“They’ve not shown fear or nervousness,” Blackmon said. “The kids do a nice job of not buying into that hype. [St. Rita’s] a team and we’re a team, and we’ll just line up and go at it.”
Gordon Tech 0 0 12 0 - 12
St. Laurence 0 7 23 6 - 36
First downs 11 18
Yds. rushing 153 151
Yds. passing 73 109
Total yds. 226 260
Att./comp. 12-4 21-9
Fumbles/lost 3-2 2-1
Had intercepted 0 1
Penalties/yds. 5-40 2-13
Punts/avg. 6-16.3 2-18.5
SL — Andy Gamboa, 17-yd. pass from Bob Kelly (Eric Sadowski kick)
SL — Sadowski, 23-yd. field goal
SL — Frank Miller, 4-yd. run (kick failed)
GT — Howard Williams, 52-yd. run (run failed)
SL — Julian Gonzales, 9-yd. run (Sadowski kick)
SL — Sadowski, 36-yd. fumble return (Sadowski kick)
GT — Gary Anish, 6-yd. run (run failed)
SL — Pete Kopacz, 12-yd. pass from Kelly (pass failed)
St. Laurence Rushing: Miller 20-143, Gonzales 2-11, Novak 5-9, Sterna 1-6, Kelly 2-(-18). Passing: Kelly 21-9-109. Receiving: Gurgone 2-45, Miller 2-9, Gamboa 1-17, Gonzales 1-12, Kopacz 1-12, Sterna 1-9, Snee 1-5.