North Salem’s football team dug itself out of a small deficit for its biggest win in a while.
The Vikings found themselves down 2-0 on the opening minutes of the game after West Albany punted to North Salem’s one-yard line and the Vikings’ first offensive play of the game resulted in a ball carrier being tackled in the end zone for a safety.
“Those moments kind of define your character and your ability to compete,” North Salem coach Jeff Flood said.
But North Salem’s defense shut down West Albany the rest of the way for its first defensive shutout of an opponent in nearly a decade in a 14-2 road win.
After surrendering a 14-8 halftime lead in a 34-21 loss to McNary in the opening game of the season, the Vikings’ play on defense was inspired.
Flood credited the guidance of defensive coordinator Troy Walker and the play of the front seven, including John Stott, Augustin Murillo, Tyler Borders and Jared Campbell up front for stopping West Albany’s vaunted running game, including holding running back Jeff LaCoste to 28 yards on 14 carries.
“Defensively, just a turnaround from Week 1,” Flood said.
Isiah O’Connell and Jimmy Van scored North Salem’s two touchdowns.
The Vikings were playing without junior running back Gio Gonzalez, who was injured in practice last Wednesday.
“We had to change quite a few things,” Flood said. “That was something that our kids really overcame. He went out in practice this week and I don’t know when he’s going to be back.
“Eli Valenzuela really stepped in for him. We had, I think, 10 different kids carry the ball for us Friday.”
Junior quarterback Hunter Sullivan is playing a bigger role than expected since taking over as the starting role in the wing-T offense.
“Right now Hunter’s doing a great job on the offensive of the ball,” Flood said. “Right now we have good balance. Hunter’s just really a second-year player for us because he missed his entire freshman year with an injury. He has the ability to make any throw we ask him.”