It took ’em a while. Six weeks, to be exact.
But the Golden Raiders finally put themselves on the winning side of the scoreboard — and in convincing fashion, too.
Daniel Wild carried the ball 31 times for 84 yards and a pair of touchdowns, Jacob Schmidt finished 6-of-14 passing for 53 yards and a touchdown, and North’s defense returned a pair of interceptions for scores in a 35-21 win over Green Bay East at home on Saturday.
“We felt all along we had a good football team here, we just needed a win to get them going, and I think this is it,” North coach Karl Nienhuis said.
North, which had muddled to a 0-5 record in the Fox River Classic Conference to start the season, had to rebound from a sluggish start Saturday in the Raiders’ Homecoming and the school’s 75th-anniversary celebration game. But once they rebounded, North’s players weren’t falling back to earth.
The Raiders turned the ball over on downs on their opening drive, and the Red Devils promptly drove the ball back 75 yards for a score and an early 7-0 lead.
North finally caught some momentum late in the first quarter, keeping a 53-yard drive alive into the second quarter that ended when Wild punched a 1-yard run into the end zone.
Still trailing 7-6, though — East blocked the point-after try following Wild’s touchdown — North kept up the pressure, forcing a pair of punts on East’s next two possessions. On the Devils’ second punt, a high snap sailed over the kicker’s head and into the end zone, giving the Golden Raiders a safety and their first lead of the game — 8-7.
North scored two more times before allowing Green Bay back on the board. Schmidt connected with Karson Bell for a 4-yard scoring pass late in the first half, and Weston Nelson returned the first of two interceptions 20 yards for a touchdown in the third quarter.
After East scored on a 1-yard run in the fourth quarter, North closed the door with two more touchdowns, including a 65-yard interception return by Tyler VanCalligan that gave the Raiders an insurmountable 35-13 lead with just three minutes left in the game.
“Those things happen when everyone’s playing together for a common purpose, and we did that today,” Nienhuis said of his team’s two TD-interception returns.
“The whole team just played their hearts out, and I’m just real proud of the guys.”
The game started with some peculiar fanfare. After the marching band paraded around the football field’s running track, a trio of parachutists dropped onto the 50-yard line — or as close as the windy conditions would let them get — to help christen the school’s occasion.
“(The players) knew they had to come out and play hard, that the community was celebrating the 75th anniversary for North, and they knew what was going to happen and they played their hearts out today,” Nienhuis said near where a crowd of students swarmed onto part of the field after the game.
North’s season isn’t done yet. The Raiders (1-5, 1-5 FRCC) play at Ashwaubenon on Friday before hosting cross-town rival Sheboygan South on Oct. 12.
Nienhuis said he hopes Saturday’s win will help spark a late-season surge.
“There’s a lot of season left, and this is a good start to the rest of the season,” he said.
“The hopes are high for the rest of the season.”