- Faith & Family
The Norland Vikings are in a position to take the District 16-5A title for the third consecutive season, after an underwhelming 22-3 victory over the Jackson Generals last Friday night at Traz Powell.
“Those were the ugliest 22 points I put on the board,” Viking Head Coach, Daryle Heidelburg said. “But it was enough.”
Ugly is an understatement. Both Jackson (5-3, 1-1), who was celebrating its homecoming, and Norland (6-2, 1-0), remained scoreless in the first quarter and had earned only one first down a piece by the start of the second. That paled in comparison to the fact that both teams combined for more than 200 penalty yards in the game — Norland 110, Jackson 120 — with Jackson’s penalty yards exceeding the team’s total offensive yards.
Meanwhile, coveted Jackson quarterback, Quinton “Winkie” Flowers, struggled tremendously from the jump, throwing an interception on his first pass. Flowers, who left the game during the fourth quarter after a brutal tackle by Norland defensive end, Paul James, finished the game with another interception, 29 passing yards and 7 rushing yards.
On the other side of the ball, Norland junior quarterback, Taron James, similarly struggled and threw two interceptions and had only one 8-yard completion by halftime.
“Growing pains are what we’re going through,” Heidelburg said. “We need games like this.”
It looked as if the halftime score would be nil until Jackson senior receiver, Vincent Hall, was able to earn 29 yards on a broken play that put them in field goal range.
Jackson went into the second half ahead 3-0 on a 30-yard field goal by junior receiver, Kevin Harris.
The third quarter commenced with much of the same penalty field play with much of the momentum in Jackson’s favor, until Norland trudged back from a slow 28 rushing yard and earned the first touchdown of the game with 1:19 left in the third quarter on a 2-yard push into the end zone by junior running back, LaKeith Stafford, who finished with 14 rushing yards and an additional touchdown.
Norland took over in the final quarter after earning three sacks that disconcerted the Jackson offense and led to two Norland touchdowns, including a 2-yard scamper by junior running back, Xavier Francis, his only rush of the game.
“I’m proud of my guys,” Heidelburg said. “We have a chance to be in the same position that we were in last year at this time, despite everything people have said.”
The win put Jackson in a precarious position dependent on Norland’s success against district rival Key West (5-3) on Nov. 2nd, who Jackson defeated 32-12. If Norland wins they take district, if Norland loses — which historically is unlikely after they beat the Conchs 44-20 last season — then the Generals and Vikings will be even and will have to play a tiebreaker.
Norland enters a bi-week before their next district battle, as the Generals face Killian (6-1) in a non-district battle on Thursday, October 25th, at 4 p.m. at Southridge Field.
By Akilah Laster