Vikings send Sparks flying
No one doubted that the offense could rack up points like a pinball wizard and last season’s downfall – a Swiss cheese defense – already earned a macho nickname – Sierra Swarm” – before the season started.
So if there was an area of concern entering South Tahoe’s season football opener with Sparks on Saturday, it was the young and untested offensive line.
Unless the game film of the 40-6 demolition of Sparks in South Lake Tahoe tells him differently, Viking coach Tim Jaureguito and his staff may direct their worries elsewhere.
“I told the offense line before the game, ‘Hey, the ball is in your court. If you go out and you play hard and we walk off the field winners, it’s because you’ve done something right. They really came through for us (Saturday),” said the 12th-year Viking coach.
The quick-footed line, boasting only one senior, beat Sparks to its blocks, enabling the Vikings a rare feat – two 100-yard rushers – and allowing poised senior quarterback Tim Sprinkles to dice the Railroaders secondary for 159 yards passing and two touchdowns.
“They did a real good job of opening the holes for myself and Jake,” said tailback James “Stump” Fabrizio, who befuddled Sparks for a game-high 123 yards and a pair of touchdowns. “I felt the offensive line got stronger as the game went on because we were starting to beat them off the ball with quickness and we were able to get our blocks.”
Senior lineman Bill Humes, juniors Matt Ring and Nick Barclay and sophomores Garrett McIntyre and Jake Bobman also allowed tailback Jake Hurwitz to put on his running shoes for 104 yards, including a mouth-dropping 51-yard cutback touchdown jaunt.
Both Viking backs topped the 100-yard barrier on only 10 carries each.
“It’s kind of funny because we had the ladies’ clinic the other night, and one of the questions that came up was: Why don’t you guys run a two-back offense? If you can get two backs over 100 yards in the same game without running a two-back offense, you’re doing OK,” Jaureguito said.
Sparks quickly found out that the Vikings possess a “Stump” that doesn’t remain stationary and is hard to cut down. The determined 5-foot-1, 163-pound senior used vision and sneaky speed to bolt 62 yards for a game-breaking score just before halftime, putting the Vikings ahead 33-6. He also capped STHS scoring with a 28-yard scamper with 6:52 remaining in the third quarter.
Earlier, Sprinkles unveiled his new favorite target, junior Immanuel Williams, who toasted the Railroaders secondary like Randy Moss did the NFL last year.
Sprinkes hit Williams in stride for a 37-yard TD to open the scoring with 6:37 left in the first quarter and burned Sparks for a 39-yard bomb midway through the second period.
“I like how Tim throws it,” Williams said. “Basically, he knows I have the speed and knows what I can do, so he can throw it out there and let me go do what I have to do.”
As for the “Sierra Swarm,” it did nothing to tarnish the cool new nickname. The “Swarm” limited Sparks to 76 yards rushing on 32 carries, scored on Matt George’s 1-yard interception return and received two knocked down pass attempts by Leonel Garcia. It also partially blocked two punts and made five tackles for losses – including two sacks.
“Coach (Chris) Morgan and coach (Mike) Makley have done just an outstanding of putting that defense together. We’re really excited about that, just the way they’re flying around. We had helmets to the ball that was just unbelievable at times. They’re living up to the nickname the ‘Sierra Swarm,'” Jaureguito said.
Not that the Vikings were perfect, by any means. They were penalized 12 times for 116 yards and surrendered 191 yards passing.
“We got a little bit lazy mentally in the second half, because of that our focus and intensity dropped a level, so I wasn’t pleased with our second half as much as I was our first half,” Jaureguito said.
But Williams believes great things are ahead for the program.
“Basically, I think we’re going to go all the way this year,” Williams said. “We’ve got a real strong defense. We work on the line a little more and give the quarterback more time to throw, and the offense will be dialed in, and the whole team will be unstoppable.”
South Tahoe, 1-0, will play its next home game on the road against Lowry on Friday at Douglas High. Game time is 4:45 p.m., and the preliminary to the Reed-Douglas showdown at 7:30 p.m.
SOUTH TAHOE 40, SPARKS 6
Sparks 0 6 0 0- 6
STHS 12 21 7 0-40
ST-Williams 37 pass from Sprinkles (run failed), 5:23
ST-Hurwitz 51 run (pass failed), 11:07
ST-George 1 interception return (Romero kick), :05
ST-Williams 39 pass from Sprinkles (Romero kick), 5:12
S-C. Lexa 3 pass from Quick (kick failed), 7:19
ST-Fabrizio 62 run (Romero kick), 9:20
ST-Fabrizio 28 run (Romero kick), 5:08
First downs 14/16
Passing yards 191/167
Total offense 267/423
Kick returns 6-84/2-39
Punt returns 1-16/1-(-1)
PASSING: Sparks, Quick 15-34-1-144, Johnson 1-1-0-47; South Tahoe, Sprinkles 9-12-0-159, Uppendahl 1-5-0-8.
RUSHING: Sparks, Johnson 15-25, C. Lexa 2-16, Brown 4-15, No. 12 1-9, Quick 7-8, DePoali 3-3; South Tahoe, Fabrizio 10-123, Hurwitz 10-104, Cohen 4-16, Uppendahl 2-9, Sprinkles 2-4.
RECEIVING: Sparks, Westhoff 8-92, G. Lexa 1-36, DePoali 3-31, Johnson 2-21, Berriochoa 1-8, C. Lexa 1-3; South Tahoe, Williams 2-77, Arzio 3-32, Hurwitz 1-16, Ortiz 1-15, Seals 1-15, Sealey 1-8, Hickey 1-4.
JV score: Sparks 55-9
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