By Dave Pearce
Most players, coaches, and fans of high school football generally agree that when it comes to county rivalries, you can throw out the record books and the odds-on favorites because anything can happen.
On Friday evening at North Posey High School, the team that was generally considered the favorite got off to a bit of a slow start and it looked for awhile as if the game would be close. However, when the game was over, the favored (at least on paper) North Posey Vikings had prevailed by a score of 49-21. The Vikings had put their name on the Posey County News traveling trophy for the second straight year and will retain the Posey Cup until the teams meet again next season.
But despite the score, North Posey Coach Joe Gengelbach insisted there was certainly nothing easy about beating the determined Wildcats and their coach, Paul Maier, one of Gengelbach’s former high school players.
“You have to give Mount Vernon a lot of credit because they came out and played hard,” Gengelbach said after the game. “They came off the ball time after time and did a lot of blitzing and stunting. They pass-protected well because it was very hard getting to Snodgrass. He made some great plays out there.” We found out that we still have a lot of things to work on. Hopefully you learn every game you play.”
But the game was far from a masterpiece in football by either team. There was a total of 22 penalties for 163 yards. A little out of character for two teams who each won their first games of the season last week in relatively penalty-free fashion.
“I don’t know if it was concentration or if we were pressing a little bit and didn’t make some plays we thought we should have made and then got a little edgy,” Gengelbach said. “I don’t want to speak for Paul (Maier) but I thought we had a penalty or two that we didn’t feel like we should have had and he probably feels about the same way but those a judgment calls, especially on those pass interference calls.”
The Vikings took the opening kick-off and Wes Harness, who finished with 197 yards on 22 carries, broke loose for a 56-yard touchdown run and only two minutes into the game, the Vikings took a lead they would never surrender.
But the Mount Vernon Wildcats showed they are capable of big plays, as well..
The Wildcats, led by freshman quarterback Ryley Snodgrass, held the Vikings scoreless the remainder of the period and then scored on the first play of the second period to tie the game at 7.
Coming out of the quarter break, Snodgrass found speedy J.T. Silvers open and he did the rest and Michael Cannato’s extra point made things even.
The teams battled evenly until the Vikings were able to complete a drive with just over three minutes remaining in the first half.
Quarterback Alec Werry found Tyler Atkins for a big eight yard reception to make the Wildcats respect the pass then Harness took over. He carried the ball to the ball several times, the last one to the Mount Vernon six yard line where Werry caught the Wildcats expecting a hand-off and he ran the ball in from the six.
That could have been the beginning of the end for the Wildcats as the defense came up big for North Posey. A Zac Wargel sack keep the Wildcats pinned to their own end zone and the Vikings had a short field following the punt as Jake Bender brought the ball back to the 20.
It appeared the Wildcats were going to have the Vikings stopped as they faced a fourth-and-two but again it was Harness who stayed on his feet to the Mount Vernon six. Then, on first down, he took it in with 1:16 remaining in the half to give the Vikings a lead and momentum going into the locker room.
The Wildcats had trouble moving the ball all night on the ground against a big Viking defensive line. The Wildcats finished with only 48 total rushing yards and were unable to gain any of them when they were needed most to gain some momentum to open the second half.
But the Viking defense held and the Wildcats were forced to punt at the 10:22 mark.
A big pass play from Werry to Jake Bender appeared to have the Vikings going in the second half. After the Wildcat punt to the 28, Bender brought down Werry’s pass and took it to the Mount Vernon 35. But the Wildcat defense stiffened and after a loss, Gengelbach decided to put hit punt team, led by one of the area’s best in Nick Neidig, to work. Neidig kicked the ball extremely high and the Mount Vernon punt return man signaled a fair catch at the five. But the ball skidded out of his hands and sophomore Derek Lindauer made the fumble recovery and the Vikings had the ball on the Mount Vernon five. Harness ran it in on first down and the Vikings led 28-7.
But again Mount Vernon would attempt to stay in the game as a costly North Posey pass interference penalty set up a 56-yard touchdown run by speedy and powerful Austin Guthrie to bring the Vikings back to within 28=14.
But in the final two minutes of the third quarter, the Vikings got touchdowns from Harness and Colton Martin to put the game away. North Posey led 42-14 heading into the final period.
The Vikings’ James Marshall, who is young but expected to see significant playing time this season, scored the final Viking points on the evening when he shook loose from seven yards out.
Mount Vernon quickly answered on a 78-yard pass play from Snodgrass to Silvers and all the scoring would be finished for the night.
The game was long, and sometimes ugly as it lasted nearly three hours and had a ton of penalties. Gengelbach was not pleased with everything he saw but not all was negatives. He saw some positives, as well.
“We found out that we may have a couple more players who are starting to develop a little more,” Gengelbach said. “That could help our depth, particularly in a game that is very physical. I thought this game was pretty physical. You can throw out everything when Mount Vernon and North Posey play each other. It has been that way ever since we started playing each other back in 1970. It is a battle every year.”
Coach Paul Maier had to like his pass defense against a team that had shown proficiency last week. The Vikings finished with only four completed passes out of 17 attempts with three interceptions. Ethan Vanzant, River VanZant, and Cory Wood all had interceptions for the Wildcats. Snodgrass completed 10-of-21 passes for 176 yards and a pair of touchdowns. The Wildcats accounted for 224 yards of total offense to 408 for the Vikings. Lindauer finished with two fumble recoveries for the Vikings and Eric O’Risky had one.
Silvers had four receptions for 120 yards for the Wildcats while Brian Koch had three for 31 yards and River VanZant had two for 23 yards. Austin Guthrie had one for two yards.
Besides Harness, Marshall had 59 yards on two carries while Colton Martin, Alec Werry, and Dylan Wright each had seven carries for 42, 32, and 20 yards respectively.
Atkins finished with two catches for 17 yards while Bender had one for 33 and Neidig had one for eight.
Guthrie finished with 80 yards on 13 carries while the remainder of the team had 17 carries for a total result of minus 32 yards.
The Vikings prepare for a 7 p.m. date at undefeated Gibson Southern on Friday night. The Titans own wins over Forest Park and South Spencer. The Wildcats will go from the frying pan into the fire when they face off against Mt. Carmel in Mount Vernon on Friday night.