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Vikings nearly corral first victory

Jim GrantSTHS senior quarterback Robert Smith tries to slip a Wooster tackler during a Nevada 4A Sierra Division football game Saturday in South Lake Tahoe
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Viking co-head coach Chris Morgan told his players in a huddle before a final-minute onside kick that he’d shop for a dress later that night. All his Vikings needed to do was recover the squib kick and score a game-winning touchdown for their first win of the season.

The first-year head coach was that close to wearing a red dress and red lipstick to school today if the Vikings had come up with the onside attempt. But Collin Black recovered the free ball after it bounced off one Colt, preserving Wooster’s wild 40-35 Nevada 4A Sierra Division football victory Saturday in South Lake Tahoe.

“Unfortunately, we didn’t get it, but God, it was a lot of fun,” said STHS co-coach Chris Morgan. “The kids were having fun, the coaches were having fun. It’s what this game is all about.”



South Tahoe senior quarterback Robert Smith saw the free ball come tantalizing close to his hands.

“I saw the onside kick bounce off his shoulder pads and for a second I held my breath and I went to dive for it. I saw him grab it and I was like, ‘Oh, God,’ I’ve got to get down there and wrestle for it,” Smith said.




South Tahoe pulled within five points on Smith’s 80-yard touchdown strike to Kevin Capellino with 64 seconds left. As the extra-point holder, Smith ran in the two-point conversion to make it 40-35.

Smith enjoyed the most successful performance of his high school career in his final home game. He threw for 141 yards and two touchdowns and rushed for 79 yards and two scores as the Vikings scored the most points ever against Wooster.

“I was so proud of us,” Smith said. “All the credit goes to my offensive line. I’ve never had so much time to pass before.”

The Vikings lost their 18th straight game, falling to 0-8 with a game remaining at Hug on Friday. Wooster improved to 2-6.

During a two-minute span of the first quarter it looked as if the Colts would wrap up the victory with three quarters to spare.

After punter Nik Mercado pinned the Colts on their own 1 with a 55-yard boot, Wooster only needed four rushing plays to reach the end zone. Senior running back Jeff Odom accounted for 89 yards of the drive, including back-to-backs rushes of 47 and 40 yards, before capping the drive with a 2-yard TD run.

Two plays later, Trevor O’Sullivan recovered a fumble at the Viking 18, setting up an 18-yard touchdown pass from Zach Bryson to O’Sullivan. The Colts’ scoring flurry climaxed four plays later when Rambo Chau picked off Smith and dashed down the sideline for a 40-yard score. Prior to the scoring blitz, Viking junior back Grant Swinney had a 56-yard TD run called back because of a holding penalty.

But that was the extent of serious Viking errors as they outscored the Colts 35-21 after the first period.

“They had confidence that they could score,” said Viking co-head coach Rod Robison. “We weren’t running any different plays; they were just executing.

“These guys wanted it and didn’t give up.”

Swinney scored a 6-yard sweep and Smith scored on the first of his two 1-yard TD runs as the Vikings closed within 27-14 with 3 minutes, 12 seconds left in the half. However, Bryson found David Gonzalez alone in the right flat for a 25-yard scoring pass with 18 seconds left in the half, which ended with the Colts ahead 33-14.

The third and fourth quarters belonged to the Vikings, even though Wooster scored first in the second half on a 1-yard run by Odom to complete a 10-play, 69-yard drive.

STHS responded with a 47-yard touchdown pass from Smith to Capellino with 2:18 remaining in the third quarter, making the score 40-21. On the ensuring kickoff, Mercado demonstrated that some kickers’ talent doesn’t end with their feet. Mercado raced down field and jumped on Chau’s fumble near the sideline at the Wooster 27. Swinney’s 18-yard rush set up Smith’s 1-yard TD sneak, making the score 40-27 with :36 left in the third quarter.

The Viking defense, which surrendered 404 yards, stepped up to stop two Colts’ fourth-quarter thrusts inside their 10. One ended on downs while the other concluded with a missed field goal.

“I think guys are starting to realize they potential they had. Hopefully we’ll put it all together next week and finish the season up on a good note,” Morgan said.

Sophomore quarterback Mike Van Gorden passed for four touchdowns and ran in two other scores as South Tahoe scored its first-ever junior varsity over Wooster 54-8 Saturday in South Lake Tahoe.

Kyle Jones, a sophomore, and freshman Joey O’Malley rushed for touchdowns and the Viking defense picked off four passes. Bryan Finkel, Randy Henson, Eric Domingo and Haven Wilvers made the interceptions, according to Viking co-coach Todd McIntyre.

STHS clinched a winning season at 5-3 and can finish second in the Sierra Division by beating Hug on Friday in Reno. Game time is 4:30 p.m.

SATURDAY’S PREP FOOTBALL SUM

WOOSTER 40, SOUTH TAHOE 35

Wooster 19 14 7 0 — 40

STHS 0 14 13 8 — 35

First quarter

W-Odom 2 run (kick good), 5:49

W-O’Sullivan 18 pass from Bryson (kick failed), 6:10

W-Chau 40 interception return (run failed), 7:49

Second quarter

ST-Swinney 6 run (Mercado kick), 2:48

W-Gonzalez 5 run (Velasquez pass from Bryson), 5:14

ST-Smith 1 run (Mercado kick), 8:48

W-Gonzalez 25 pass from Bryson (pass failed), 11:42

Third quarter

W-Odom 1 run (kick good), 8:34

ST-Capellino 47 pass from Smith (Mercado kick), 9:42

ST-Smith 1 run (kick failed), 11:24

Fourth quarter

ST-Capellino 80 pass from Smith (Smith run), 10:56

TEAM STATS

Wooster/STHS

First downs 20 17

Rushes-yards 45-292 43-228

Passing yards 112 141

Comp.-Attempts-Int. 10-17-0 4-16-1

Fumbles-lost 2-1 1-1

Penalties 5-38 4-35

Kick returns 3-57 4-118

Punt returns 0-0 0-0

Punts-average 2-28.5 3-40

INDIVIDUAL STATS

Passing: Wooster, Bryson 10-17-0–112. South Tahoe, Smith 4-15-1–141, Swinney 0-1-0–0. Rushing: Wooster, Odom 22-187, Gonzalez 15-72, Bryson 6-21, Brown 1-10, Liente 1-2. South Tahoe, Swinney 28-149, Smith 15-79.

Receiving: Wooster, O’Sullivan 7-76, Velasquez 2-11, Gonzalez 1-25. South Tahoe, Capellino 2-127, Griffin 2-14.

Missed Field Goals: Wooster, 25-yarder.

JV score: South Tahoe 54-8.


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