—by Roger Fritz

The 2013 Roland-Story football season started more with a whimper than a bang, as the Norsemen dropped the season opener to the South Hamilton Hawks 22-0 Friday night in Jewell. The game was played in Jewell under a bit smaller crowd than usual on both sides, for the traditional rival matchup, possibly because of the exceptionally hot weather that hit central Iowa on Friday.

The Norsemen defense struggled to make stops when they needed them, and the offense had trouble moving the ball against the senior-dominated Hawks. The Hawks ran 63 plays on the night, to only 36 for the Norsemen.

Roland-Story was still hanging tough in the early going however, trailing only 3-0 with 1:13 left to go in the first half. The SH field goal was a 34 yarder at the end of a 17-play, game-opening drive. But the Hawks were able to put together another three-play, 39 yard drive, capped by a 15 yard touchdown pass, before the halftime horn sounded. So the teams went to the break with the Hawks leading, 10-0.

The Norsemen came out in the second half with the ball, and put together their biggest drive of the night; an eight-play drive. It included the two biggest gainers of the night for the Norsemen, runs of 20 and 14 yards by Andrew Schlatter. But the Norse unfortunately turned the ball over on downs when they took a six yard sack, and finished it up with an incomplete pass.

The score remained 10-0 through the third quarter. But two fourth quarter touchdowns for the Hawks sealed the deal.

In a drive spanning the end of the third quarter, and the start of the fourth, South Hamilton went on a 12-play, 70 yard drive, capped by a one yard touchdown plunge with 8:04 remaining in the game. Unfortunately for the Norsemen, the Hawks scored three plays later.

On a third down play, Norsemen quarterback Zach Hovick’s throw was tipped at the line and picked out of the air by a Hawk defender. He went 25 yards the other way to score the final touchdown of the night.

Offensively, the Norsemen gained 49 yards on 36 plays. South Hamilton gained 317 on 63 plays. The Hawks had 234 yards on the ground, on 53 carries. Via the air, they went 5-10 for 83 yards and a touchdown.

For the Norsemen, Zach Hovick went 0-7 via the air, with two interceptions. He was also sacked four times for a net loss of 28 yards. On the ground, Roland-Story had 29 carries for 49 yards. Andrew Schlatter had nine rushes for 48 yards, Josiah Soderstrum had eight carries for 19 yards, and Blake Morgan ran five times for 10 yards.

On the defensive side of the ball, Ben Crisman recovered a fumble for the Norsemen. He also had seven tackles. Other leading tacklers for the Norsemen were Cole Birchmier, Josiah Soderstrum, and Nick Ahrens. In his first varsity action, sophomore Sam Mathis corralled seven Hawk ball carriers. Seventeen different Norsemen had tackles on the night.

The Norsemen will make their first appearance on the home field this Friday as they host CMB. It will be the first opportunity for fans of both teams to try out the new bleachers that have recently been installed at Norsemen Field. There is also a new press box with expanded seating for coaches and media.

CMB will come into the game with the same record as the Norsemen, 0-1. The Raiders lost 44-27 to Gilbert Friday night. The game was not as close as the score indicates. Two CMB touchdowns were late in the fourth quarter against the Tiger JV. The Norsemen defeated CMB last year in Maxwell, so the Raiders will be back for revenge. Kickoff in Story City is set for 7:30 p.m.