|Ballard's teammates carry him for the post-game handshakes.|
|And the Polars recover.|
Last week against the Patrick Henry Patriots, the Polars' defense played with heart, desire, and grit. This time, they played with confidence, and it showed. North high forced six turnovers and stopped Minneapolis Edison on fourth down four times, including twice sacking the punter.
North's offense showed improvement over last week as well, but still needs to be more disciplined. At least ten times they were called for delay of game, false start, or illegal procedure (improper motion or formation before the ball is snapped) penalties. And although they put together quite a few impressive drives, they scored only when they did not commit such penalties. If that doesn't change, they'll eventually come across an opponent that can take advantage.
For instance, on their first drive...
...a 14-yard run for a first down was negated by a false start. Their second drive started near the 20-yard line after sacking the Tommies' punter. After a 10-yard run, a delay of game penalty and a false start penalty pushed the Polars far enough back that they failed to convert on either third down or the field goal. On their third possession, two delay of game penalties contributed to an eventual turnover on downs. At that point, offensive lineman Denzell Williams came off the field waving his arms and firing up the crowd.
The Tommies came out running a hurry-up offense, as close to a no-huddle as you'll get in high school. At this level, it can be very hard for high school defenses to keep up with such an offense, so it's a credit to the Polars that they held their ground and played so tenaciously. Below are some photos of various Polars making Tommies' QB Andre McHenry's life rather miserable all day long.
|Da'jwaun Dempsey puts on the pressure.|
|Julius Britten pulls down McHenry for a sack.|
|Please forward all of Corey Smith's mail to the opponent's backfield. That's where he lives now.|
|One of many forced fumbles by the Polars.|
In spite of the Polars' mental miscues on offense, they came out in the second half featuring a new formation of three running backs instead of the spread offense employed in the first half. The versatility of play-calling is a good sign of things to come.
The Polars' second touchdown came after their second sack of the punter in the game. Facing a fourth-and-fifteen, Shondel Strickland made an acrobatic catch at the five-yard line. Epps punched it in on a 1-yard run and North completed the 2-point conversion to go up 14-0.
On the ensuing kickoff, Minneapolis Edison fumbled and the Polars recovered. A Michael Davies field goal put the game effectively out of reach at 17-0 in the fourth quarter. The Tommies ruined the shutout on a 79-yard touchdown pass from McHenry. The Tommies put up a good enough fight to keep the game interesting towards the end, but the outcome was never really in doubt after the field goal.
Here's hoping Ballard is healthy and back on the field next week.
Below are several other notable shots from the game:
|Williams serves up a pancake.|
|I absolutely love the hustle shown here. There are SEVEN Polars converging on the ball.|