Post and photos by the Hawthorne Hawkman. Editorial note: this game took place on Saturday, October 9. I apologize for the delay in writing the summary.
With recent events surrounding the possibility of North High closing, my posts of the Polars' football season took a backseat. And admittedly, their game from two weeks ago was a tough one to watch, much less chronicle. Prior to the game, I took a look at the St. Paul Johnson Governors' schedule. They'd lost their first two games, but then won the next three in a rather convincing fashion by a combined score of 106-20. Which team would the Polars face, the dominant one or the team that lost their opening games?
If you've seen the scores at all, you know we were fairly well steamrolled, 48-14. If it's any consolation, the Governors won their next game 38-16, meaning that they have won five in a row by a combined score of 192-50, or an average of 37-10. What isn't comforting, though, is that we were dominated by a team that was wearing these:
|Image from photobucket.com|
...their first scoring drive in the opening quarter. North's defense held the Governors and forced them to punt. But a roughing the kicker call gave Johnson a new set of downs. After converting on a fourth-and-three, Johnson QB Logan Massop threw an interception to Dontarius Tyler, who ran it all the way back to the Governors' 18-yard line. That play, though, was nullified by a pass interference penalty, and Johnson scored a touchdown shortly after.
After forcing a three-and-out series from the Polars, an impressive punt return gave Johnson the ball at North's 37-yard line. Four plays later, Massop passed for his first touchdown of the day. Shelby Deloney showed some moves of his own, returning the kickoff to the Governors' 49-yard line. Once again, Johnson held North without a first down, and Tra Griffin returned the punt 84 yards for a Governors' touchdown. Before you knew it, we were down 20-0.
St. Paul Johnson never let the Polars get into an offensive rhythm, holding them without a first down for four consecutive drives. North's defense did pick up the slack, creating a turnover on downs after a muffed punt and intercepting Massop at midfield. But on the possession after the turnover, North's first down conversion finally came only after a face mask penalty. Then after a false start and holding penalty against North, the Polars faced 2nd and 30 and were forced to punt after coming up short again.
Yet another solid punt return gave the Governors a short field again, and they scored on a three-play drive. Every time it looked like the Polars might be able to convert something and create even a little momentum, the Governors shut them down. The strongest example of how the bounces were quite literally going the Governors' way happened early in the third quarter, with Johnson ahead 27-0.
North punted yet again, and Jared Gillespie of Johnson was the return man. He mishandled the catch, though, and the ball bounced off of him almost straight up in the air. If the Polars could have recovered, there was no one between them and the end zone. Just getting some points on the board might have given our boys some confidence to build off of. Instead, Gillespie improbably came down with the ball and deftly took the return all the way to the Polars' 1-yard line. One play later, the score was 34-0.
In the fourth quarter, Morocco Ballard picked up his own 1-yard rushing touchdown and Deloney put on the moves to tally a 58-yard TD as well. But clearly we faced a superior team, and I expect a strong showing from St. Paul Johnson in the playoffs.