South Tahoe Vikings football beaten by defending-champ Spring Creek
Matt Cain walked somberly on the South Tahoe football field Friday night following a tough loss.
Cain and his teammates had just endured getting beat 38-12 by the defending league champion Spring Creek Spartans and the Viking senior was searching the gridiron in the near-empty stadium for his crucifix.
He stopped looking after several minutes and hoped to find the chain to which it was attached after hearing someone might have picked it up.
Overall, it wasn’t the best night for the Vikings and the extra loss made it only more painful.
The Vikings started slow and the Spartans did not.
As the final clouds from the afternoon thunderstorm moved on and a fiery sunset took over, which the Vikings may have been focused on, Spring Creek scored the first two times it had the ball. Once with a bruising rushing attack and then with a perfect long pass.
South Tahoe went three-and-out on its first two possessions and gained just 3 yards.
The first quarter ended with the Spartans up 14-0.
“It didn’t go the way we wanted it to,” Cain said. “We knew it would be a tough game because they are the defending league champs but we didn’t execute our assignments, we took plays off, and that’s on the seniors. We need to set the tone better. Our first two series, we didn’t get anything, and that set the tone for the rest of the game and we just couldn’t pick it up.”
The Vikings did make it close in the second quarter and it was Cain who made the big play.
The senior defensive back undercut a pass toward the visiting sideline and picked it off. He dashed 50 yards before being knocked out of bounds at the Spartan 3.
“We practiced that exact thing in practice,” Cain said. “We watched film and I knew that was coming the whole time. We had our safety Kody (Griffis) on top, I was on the bottom and I timed it perfectly.”
Jakob Costley scored on a determined 3-yard run on the next play. It looked like he may have been stopped three times but somehow hit paydirt on his fourth effort.
Down 14-6, the Vikings were back in the game. But the Spartans went right back to star running back Jason Painter, who made life difficult for South Tahoe tacklers all night.
Painter rushed for 181 yards and two touchdowns on 31 carries. The senior carried six times on the drive to set up a Spring Creek score, an 18-yard touchdown pass.
The Spartans led 22-6 and were never challenged again. They led 30-6 at halftime.
“They’re the defending champs and they don’t beat themselves,” said Vikings head coach Louis Franklin. “When we watch film, it’s gonna be more about what we did to ourselves than what they did to us. They’re a good team. Hats off to them for playing a clean game. We didn’t do that. The fact that we can question our effort is a major concern.”
It seemed every time the Vikings would take a step forward, they’d go back two, three, and sometimes even four steps.
But the Vikings showed signs of getting back in the game midway through the third quarter.
Senior quarterback Peyton Galli rushed for a 30-yard gain. A couple of plays later, he fired a pass to Mccallan Castles who was interfered with for a 15-yard penalty.
On the next play, Galli hit Cain for a 19-yard gain down to the 1. And then after a 5-yard false start penalty, Galli hit Cain for a 6-yard score to make it 30-12 with 6:17 left in the third.
But Painter scored on a 51-yard run on the first play of the fourth quarter to put the game away.
“I thought we could handle more of a mental approach to this game and try to get everyone healthy but we had a lot of the physical mistakes, tackling, silly stuff, and there were far too many mental mistakes especially since that was our focus,” Franklin said. “I thought defensively we did pretty good, but we were flat. We didn’t respond to adversity early. I think we can play a lot better than that. Offensively we were out of sync and when we were in sync we couldn’t play catch. We can do much better on offense, myself included.”
Cain made five receptions for 68 yards and a score and also completed all three of his pass attempts, to Griffis, for 23 yards. Mccallan Castles had two catches for 20 yards. Galli threw for 88 yards and rushed for another 21.
In all, the Vikings (1-1 3A Northern League) rushed for 80 yards and threw for 111. They next will play their first road game of the season, at 7 p.m. Friday against Fernley.
“A lot of guys played really well, but unfortunately it wasn’t 11 of us at the same time,” Franklin said. “It was popcorn, everyone took turns making a mistake at an inopportune time and that’s not gonna win football games.”