Vikings storm back to win season opener
A metamorphosis took place in the second half of South Tahoe High’s season-opening football game against Portola on Saturday.
Years of losing has shaken the confidence of South Tahoe players and cast a negative light on the once-proud program.
After trailing by a field goal at halftime to Portola, the Vikings took the first step toward football recovery with a come-from-behind 20-9 victory in Viking Bowl.
“This is a great group of kids,” said second-year STHS coach Kevin Hennessee. “When is the last time they got to walk back to their locker room with people cheering for them?
“They showed fortitude and just got after it in the second half.”
Andrew Contaxis’ game-changing 46-yard touchdown reception off a deflection pointed the Vikings toward victory. A second-half shutout by the defense and some hard-nosed running between the tackles by junior Jacob Stowell gave the Vikings their first season-opening win since pummeling Galena 36-0 in 2004.
“I don’t think it’s really kicked in yet that we just won the Viking home opener. It hasn’t hit me yet, but I know it will later,” Stowell said.
Stowell rushed for 188 yards, including touchdown runs of two and nine yards, as the Vikings overcame three first-half turnovers.
“A couple of people sparked it up, and we really got it going after halftime,” said Stowell, who toted the pigskin 22 times in the second half and 38 carries overall.
Vikings’ junior Tyler Nesbitt, making his first varsity start at quarterback, completed 6-of-10 attempts for 92 yards and a touchdown.
Portola, which won a CIF small-school section title last season, was limited to 54 totals yards in the second half. Fumble recoveries by Roger Ripoli and Brandon Bannar highlighted the Vikes’ second-half shutout.
South Tahoe kept constant pressure on Portola quarterback Piero Selvaggio – led by Elliott Amsden, who had a sack in the first series. Junior Pierce Bickert recovered a first-half fumble.
“That was a great effort. We don’t have huge numbers on the varsity, so everybody is important. We overcame our mistakes, that was big,” Hennessee said.
South Tahoe (1-0) will travel to Fallon (0-0) on Friday night.
Note: STHS junior lineman Brian Hogan suffered a broken collarbone on the opening kickoff and is expected to be out of action at least 6-8 weeks.
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